HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Long before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the teaching landscape, there was a shortage of teachers in Alabama. Now that problem has spilled over to substitute teachers.

Some schools are facing the start of the year with no qualified substitute teachers to hire. 

The problem has been around for quite a while. The issue has been made worse by the pandemic, so now there’s a lot of pressure on school districts in Alabama to try to find subs to fill in for the regulars. 

Amy is a teacher in a North Alabama school district who says that she is considering leaving the profession because there were no substitute teachers in place last year nor any in place for this school year for days when she wants to take a day off. 

“I can’t imagine a life where I am not teaching,” she told News 19. “Teaching is all I wanted to do and to be kind of this discouraged early on, it’s hard to keep going.” 

The conversation about a lack of substitute teachers will not go away because it is a national crisis. There are two school districts in North Alabama that have reportedly no substitute teachers in their hiring base for the upcoming calendar year.

The crisis is now a dire need.  

The question is almost always, “why does this happen?” For the longest time, substitutes weren’t hard to come by. Many schools in Alabama would refer to their pool of substitutes when one or more teaching positions opened.

“What we are seeing now is the need and demand I would characterize as crushing for substitute teachers,” explained Nicola Soares, president of Kelly Education. “That’s a result of full-time teachers leaving the profession.

Kelly Education is a hiring agency that has partnered with 50 of Alabama’s school districts to battle the substitute shortage while offering free training while lowering the standard of qualifications like not requiring a four-year degree and lowering the age limit from 21, just to get people in place before the start of the upcoming school year. 

Soares told News 19, “In the state of Alabama, we require substitutes, they must be 18 years or older. Some districts require them to be 21 years or older and they need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. it is also required in the state of Alabama to have a substitute teacher license as well.” 

Amy is hopeful that a system finally works to fill the growing need for subs. 

“We are going to hurt our most vulnerable population and we are not giving them a fair chance that they need,” she stated.

Kelly Education is actively recruiting substitute teachers. To sign up, visit www.wakeupandteach.com.