COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As Columbia Public Schools students return to their classrooms this week a situation still looms that could send them back online at least temporarily: a lack of substitute teachers.
CPS, like other school districts across the country, has found that relatively few people who are eligible are willing to substitute teach as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
The district reported 70 staff members on leave as of last Friday, just a few days before in-person classes resumed. The district has reported cases in 22 of its school buildings since the pandemic started last spring.
CPS also tracks the number of cases in the district per 10,000 people over the past two weeks. That number was at 82.3 on Friday.
CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said the district continues to put out calls for more substitute teachers.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has relaxed certification requirements to become a substitute teacher. The district's contracted substitute provider, EduStaff, is also actively hiring. Baumstark said CPS has a large pool of substitues but "only a few hundred said they would be willing to substitute during COVID and of those who said they would be willing, even fewer are accepting openings when the requests go out."
The CPS Board of Education is scheduled to meet Thursday morning to hear an update on the plans for substitute teachers in the district.
Baumstark said around 70% of students have opted to return to in-person learning.
Check back for more on this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.