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Emergency substitute teacher rule aims to keep Oregon students in classrooms


A new emergency rule allows Oregon school districts to hire substitute teachers who don’t have a bachelor’s degree. It’s meant to address a 43% drop in the number of registered subs statewide.  

While some districts, including Springfield, said they’re not yet taking advantage of the order, others, like Douglas County ESD, are trying it out, say for existing staff without degrees.


Dr. Anthony Rosilez, the Executive Director of the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, which wrote the rule, said while it’s still early, “There are several dozen that have begun the application process." He told KLCC, "We do know that, as of right now, that there are districts both rural and urban that are looking to take advantage of this license, at all grade levels.”


Rosilez said the goal is to keep students in classrooms. He emphasized districts are required to give temporary subs support and guidance. The rule is set to expire in March, but the commission will review it at the end of the year, to see if there’s continued need.


In a statement, the Commission said: "Licensed substitutes may have been employed to fill classroom teaching vacancies, and increased safety protocols have necessitated an increased number of absences amongst our teaching staff. Oregon has experienced a substantial decrease in the number of individuals holding substitute licenses since the pandemic began. In December 2019, there were approximately 8,300 individuals on substitute license. This number decreased to 5,500 in December 2020, and is now at only 4,700. Though educators holding teaching licenses may also substitute in classrooms, this downward trend is indicative of the challenges schools are facing. This shortage can jeopardize many districts’ efforts to provide the quality in-person instruction that we know is best for our students."

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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