Bismarck Public Schools adapts to substitute teacher shortage


As school is back in session in some way or another, many districts in the state are struggling to fill substitute teaching positions.

To address the shortage, Governor Doug Burgum issued an executive order earlier this month allowing substitute teachers to stay in a classroom beyond the 10 consecutive days previously permitted.

Prompting the shortage in part is the fact that many substitute teachers are older and retired, placing them in a more vulnerable age category to coronavirus.

The HR Manager at Bismarck Public Schools says they’ve hired long-term substitutes to stay in the district until Oct. 2 – but even with those new positions, they’re not all filled.

“If there’s a call in the morning that someone has to quarantine because of contact tracing or if someone is ill, they can just go in those classrooms and fill in where needed,” Stacey Geiger, HR Manager at Bismarck Public Schools, said. “We did fill 55 of those 66 which has been really helpful.”

Geiger also says the district is honoring substitute teachers with a “Sub of the month” for the first time, by recognizing one substitute teacher every month with a gift card for a sub.

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