Fairfax County Schools Encourage College Students to Help With Sub Shortage

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As schools say they are struggling to find enough substitutes for teachers calling out sick with COVID-19, Fairfax County Public Schools is turning to college students for help.

Sophie Carter majors in elementary education at George Mason University. She’s spent winter break of her junior year as a substitute teacher.

“I just thought, why not get some more experience?” she said.

“It’s definitely helped me kind of imagine what my classroom’s gonna look like,” she said.

FCPS says it’s struggling to find enough substitutes with about 40% of slots going empty during this latest COVID-19 surge.

“I do think the work is a challenge,” McNair Upper Elementary School Principal Melissa Goddin said. “It’s a lot harder, I think, than people might realize.”

McNair Upper Elementary School encourages college students like Carter to step up and sub.

Everyone must undergo a background check.

The pay starts at about $18 an hour.

“What better practice can you have than on-the-job training to be a substitute but also get paid for it unlike student teaching where you don’t get paid,” Goddin said.

Fairfax County schools aren’t the only ones dealing with a sub shortage. In November, it forced Loudoun County to go virtual for two days. On Thursday, Montgomery County schools were about 800 subs short, which they say has been typical with the omicron variant.

Carter said she’s glad to help fill the gap.

“There could be 10-20 staff out in a day, and so whatever I could do to help decrease that number a little bit,” she said.

Many local school systems have also been bringing in parents and central office administrators to help fill in as subs as well.

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