Likely thanks in part to the pandemic, the number of emergency substitute teachers has dropped by more than 25% statewide.

SAN TAN VALLEY (3TV/CBS 5) - Many schools around the Valley are finding themselves with substitute teacher problems. As more kids go back to the classroom, we're seeing an emergency substitute teacher shortage that many say can be blamed on COVID-19.

Arizona's Family spoke with San Tan Valley resident Gary Kemp, who is refusing to go back. Kemp worked in education for nearly 60 years. Now, he says, he won't step foot into a classroom. "At my age, I'll be 85 in January, I'm concerned about, even though I've been vaccinated, becoming infected and spreading it into my family."

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Kemp isn't the only one with this concern. The largest sub contractor in Arizona reports they typically have 5,000 subs in a normal year. At the end of last school year, they were down to 3,800. "I'm getting more phone calls. In other words, if they don't fill them with people signing up then they'll call you" Kemp added. "And I'm getting more phone calls than I have in the past years."

The Arizona Department of Education recently came out with its annual teacher workforce report. The report states that the number of emergency subs has dropped by 25% statewide. Although Arizona School Administrators, a local nonprofit, believes this is true, they say it might not be the case in some districts. "If you live in a district with a lot of parents who are college educated and are willing to become occasionally a substitute because they qualify, then maybe that's a district who has less of a problem" said Arizona School Administrators Executive Director Mark Joraanstad.

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For Kemp, his solution to the problem is simple. "What I saw growing up and what I saw as I became involved with the school systems is the requirement of vaccinations. So, I think that vaccinations need to be required."

On Wednesday, Maricopa County Public Health is reporting 12 active outbreaks at Valley schools. To be clear, by their definition, an outbreak is at least 2 confirmed cases on a single campus.

You can track the COVID-19 cases statewide by clicking HERE.  

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