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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Substitute shortage strikes in Pitt Co.

WED. | 12-15-21 | NEWS

     The return to in-person learning in Pitt County Schools has been accompanied by a county-wide shortage of substitute teachers. This year, teachers, administrators and other school personnel have undergone the task of covering classes during their planning periods or free time during the school day due to a decrease in substitute availability. This issue was recently addressed by the Pitt County Schools              Board of Education, who implemented bonuses for those who cover classes during the school day. 

American history teacher Stephanie Noles is one of the many teachers who has had to use her planning period to cover the class of a teacher in her department when there were no substitutes available. She credits the increasing presence of this issue to changes in substitute requirements and the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Pitt County schools. 

     “I think there are a couple of things that have come into play, Pitt County has changed their substitute requirements over the summer during a time when it was already difficult to find subs because of COVID;” said Noles. “I think the combination of having older subs who don’t want to get sick and subs who haven't had the chance to take new required classes impacted it.”

     Social studies teacher Johnny Armstrong has also sacrificed many of his 1st period planning periods to cover classes in his department. Armstrong expresses that part of the reason this issue has arisen is due to the low pay grade for substitute teachers and the need for alternative work during the pandemic.

     “People don't realize how little money substitutes 


Photo by Eleanor Blount

make,” said Armstrong. “During the 2020-2021 school year a lot of [substitutes] went out and found other things to do and did not come back.”

     Although the shortage of substitutes has not been resolved, the Pitt County Board of Education has decided to give bonuses to teachers who give up parts of their day to perform substitute tasks. The amount of money given to teachers for class coverage has not yet been released but is soon expected to be as the first semester comes to an end. 

     As a teacher who has had to sacrifice planning periods throughout the year to cover classes, Noles is appreciative of the new bonuses but wishes the decision came sooner.

     “I think [the bonuses] are a really great idea because you're working straight through the day when you cover someone's class,” said Noles. “[But] I wish that it was something that they told us from the get-go because having to go back and figure out when exactly I covered classes is time-consuming.”

     Armstrong is also supportive of the new bonuses but hopes to see the issue handled from the state level in order to solve the issue of substitute shortages.

     “I think it's very nice that someone is recognizing the extra work we’re doing,” said Armstrong. “[But] I would like to see the state use extra pandemic money to hire more substitutes and raise pay for substitutes.”

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