SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Substitute teachers will be in high demand as Arizona school districts prepare for worst-case COVID-19 scenarios. A Scottsdale-based education staffing company called Educational Services Inc. (ESI) is in the business of finding certified substitute teachers for 60 K-12 school districts across the state.
Starting next week, the company will launch a new recruiting campaign designed to encourage a younger demographic to consider substitute teaching.
"Right now, our focus is on trying to extend an invitation to those people who may have not been in education before and especially those folks who might be younger or might be currently experiencing unemployment who may say, 'Hey, you know what? I want a job with purpose. I want a job that's flexible, that I can really go home at night and feel I made a difference,'" explained said ESI spokesman Andy Shirk.
While there are 7,000 substitute teachers on ESI's roster, Shirk said not all of them will feel comfortable filling in for a teacher who might have contracted the coronavirus.
"It's guaranteed there's going to be a shortage of substitutes, and so we're trying to get ahead of it now," Shirk explained. "Every single school district across Arizona has a need right now. So, if you're hearing this message and you're at all interested, we encourage you to talk to us or your local school district. ... You will definitely feel good about doing this work for them. It's very important."
Shirk said many of ESI's substitute teachers are retired teachers. The average is 56.
"We recognize it's a personal decision for everybody, but if you're a retired teacher or someone who is in a high-risk category, we would totally understand why you might not want to return to the classroom," he said.
That's why the company plans to focus its recruiting efforts on a younger audience -- people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
"They might be in a place in their lives where they understand they don't have the complications health-wise, where they can be more excited or willing to enter the classroom," Shirk explained.
Because reporting policies vary from district to district, ESI might not always know if a teacher who needs a sub has COVID-19.
Shirk said so far, none of its 7,000 substitute teachers have the coronavirus. But if an ESI employee tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the company has reporting policies in place to ensure school districts are informed.
There are four specific requirements you must meet to apply to be a substitute teacher in Arizona.
- Bachelor's degree
- Substitute certification from the Arizona Department of Education
- Fingerprint card through the Arizona Department of Public Safety
- A background check, which could take 48 hours to process
The application process to become a substitute teacher could take anywhere from three weeks to a few months.
"That's why it's important to recruit and get people interested now," Shirk said.
In the Peoria Unified School District, substitute teachers start at $105 a day. PUSD has a total of 550 substitutes on the roster through ESI. While it doesn't need substitutes right now, it is is bracing for a significant need.
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