Newsom order expands California's substitute teacher supply amid COVID-19 surge

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Tuesday to make it easier for schools to hire substitute teachers and retired staff.

The temporary order, which lasts through March 31, lowers state barriers that would otherwise delay the hiring of substitute teachers and suspends limitations for retired teachers trying to return to the classroom. It also allows school districts flexibility to extend substitute teachers’ assignments.

“Schools nationwide returning from winter break are experiencing short-term staffing shortages that are putting a strain on operations,” Newsom said in a statement. “We’re working closely with local education officials to cut red tape to allow qualified substitute teachers to help maintain safe learning environments.”

The order comes amid an uptick in COVID-19 infections attributed to the omicron variant of the virus.

According to the governor’s office, the flexibility in the order only applies to schools that need the provisions to maintain in-person learning amid staffing shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Several schools across the state are dealing with staffing shortages due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Last week, more than 600 classrooms in San Francisco had no teachers or aides available and only 157 substitutes were available to cover, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The Los Angeles Unified School District reported a surge in active COVID-19 cases, with more than 62,000 active cases among students and staff reported as of Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Despite this recent rise in cases, Newsom reiterated a commitment to keeping kids in school during a news conference on Tuesday,

“Our kids have lost connection to their friends, community, to the normalcy and cadence of life…. I’m very very sensitive to this and the learning opportunities that are lost because kids are not safely in school,” Newsom said.

“It’s really critical, top priority for us to keep these schools open, but at the same time, we have to have the back of our educators, we have to have the backs of these parents and teachers and let them know that they’re valued,” he added.

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