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CCSD no longer able to hire emergency substitutes starting Friday

Starting Friday May 20.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 8:37 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - One solution the Clark County School District has been utilizing for getting substitutes into classrooms will soon be nullified: emergency substitutes are only eligible for hire by CCSD during a State of Emergency.

On Friday, May 20, Governor Steve Sisolak will end the COVID-19 State of Emergency, as FOX5 reported. By doing so, CCSD and Washoe County School Districts will see the end to their opportunity to hire subs whose only academic requirement is a high school diploma.

“With the removal of the State of Emergency Declaration, in accordance with Regulation 028-21, CCSD will be unable to hire emergency substitutes for the 2022-23 school year,” said Allegra Demerjian, Public Information Officer, Nevada Department of Education. “Emergency substitutes already in place will be able to complete the current 2021-22 school year.”

After this school year’s end, people with an emergency substitute license will only be able to apply in Nevada’s rural districts.

As a result, the governor and school staff are putting additional pressure on district leaders to solve the staff shortage. Local principals are poised to lose out on a staffing solution they were hoping to benefit from.

“I was in support of, ya know, one more avenue for getting qualified substitutes into our classrooms,” said Principal Sarah Popek of CCSD’s Myrtle Tate Elementary. “We have had a very low fill-rate this year.”

It was only recently, on February 28, that CCSD officially became eligible to hire emergency substitutes for covering teacher absences. The impacts of that decision, according to principals we spoke to, were yet to be seen in many schools as of this spring. The application process takes a month, at minimum, though; especially taking the background checks into account.

Governor Steve Sisolak said Monday that he warned school districts to be aware of possible impacts of his lifting of the emergency order.

“We gave them a two-week notice, and we’ve been talking to them, to try and get them to understand: you’ve got to come up with another plan in terms of addressing this,” said Sisolak. “And I’m confident that the school boards and the superintendents are going to do that.”

CCSD is now calling their staff shortage “critical;” as of this publishing date, their jobs page shows more than 1,450 open positions for licensed teachers.

We heard from a Las Vegas kindergarten teacher about the emergency substitute measure ending.

“It’s a disappointment and it’s sad that we’re having to turn to that, although I know that we need to turn to that,” said Kristan Nigro, a kindergarten teacher at Schorr Elementary. “Because if we don’t, well then, we have all these other educators that are absorbing.”

CCSD staff have continuously said this school year that teachers are often covering for each other. In many cases, classes are being split up. Groups of students are being added to other classrooms on days when their teacher is absent, leading to larger class sizes, certain days.

“When you’re in a crowded space, that becomes a hazard and a danger,” said Nigro.

Nigro said she is seeing more of a sense of burnout among teachers, than ever before.

“People who are even coming here to work are leaving because they’re like, ‘It’s not worth it!’” said Nigro.

Nigro said she believes the focus should be on the recruitment and retention of licensed, educated teachers.

“With the climate of education right now, with teaching, with the workload, with everything, we really do need to figure out a solution,” said Nigro.

CCSD’s Communications Office issued an emailed response to our request for comment Tuesday, saying, “The extension of the emergency substitute teacher license would require action from the Nevada Department of Education. As we have said before, with the nationwide teacher shortage, school districts across the state and country must utilize every option to pair teachers with students to raise academic performance and satisfy the social-emotional wellbeing of our students.”