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Rule change lets Nevada schools hire more substitute teachers

Updated December 1, 2020 - 3:57 pm

The Nevada Department of Education has announced a regulation that will make it easier for public schools to hire emergency substitute teachers — who are required to have only a high school diploma — during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the emergency regulation Nov. 25 and the department announced it Monday. It will remain in effect through Feb. 24.

Emergency substitute teachers have previously been allowed only in rural school districts or in areas with fewer than 9,000 students. And emergency hires were allowed to work only up to five days in a 20-day period.

All of Nevada’s public school districts and public charter schools are now allowed to hire emergency substitute teachers. And there’s no restriction on how many days they can work.

“Thanks to the governor’s swift action, districts will be better able meet the needs of students and families by supporting multiple instructional models,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said in a news release. “We remain committed to ensuring that all of Nevada’s districts and charter schools have the tools and flexibility they need to provide equitable access to educational opportunities for all students during this pandemic.”

Emergency substitute teachers are required to have only a high school diploma or equivalent. Regular substitute teachers must have at least 60 credits from a college or university or an associate’s degree or higher in order to get a license.

The Clark County School District is operating under 100 percent distance education since a new school year began in late August. Since then many substitutes have said they’re struggling to get assignments and are running into issues getting unemployment claims approved.

The school district has approximately 4,000 substitute teachers in its pool, spokesman Mauricio Marin said Tuesday. Since the start of the school year, the district has seen on average about 900 daily requests for a substitute.

Substitute teachers in the school district will get a pay raise in January — the first increase in more than a decade. The change came after substitute teachers held protests at School Board meetings earlier this year.

The Washoe County School District is experiencing a staffing shortage amid the pandemic due to factors such as employees being quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 or coming in close contact with someone who is ill. Middle and high schools in the district will switch from a hybrid model to 100 percent distance learning on Wednesday, but elementary schools will continue with full-time, in-person classes.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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