Coronavirus pandemic causes substitute teacher shortage in North Alabama

Employees at Huntsville City, Madison City and Madison County schools say they have fewer substitute teachers than previous years.

Posted: Nov 9, 2020 9:38 PM
Updated: Nov 9, 2020 10:52 PM

Schools across the nation are facing a substitute teacher shortage because of the coronavirus pandemic, and three districts in North Alabama are trying to hire more.

Employees at Huntsville City, Madison City and Madison County schools say they have fewer substitute teachers than previous years.

Craig Williams with Huntsville City Schools says the more substitute teachers, the better. The district is almost doubling pay for substitute teachers, from $75 a day to $140.

"A lot of subs that we have are older, like myself, and they are afraid to come in because of this," said substitute teacher Janice Sullivan.

Madison City Schools substitute teacher, Janice Sullivan, says she's noticed a huge decrease in the number of substitute teachers available.

"We don't have enough subs to come in because of the pandemic," said Sullivan.

Now, she's having to make some adjustments.

"I give up my planning in case I have to be going into a class to cover in case a teacher is out or a sub can't make it in," said Sullivan.

Lamarr Stevens also works as a substitute teacher in Madison City Schools and says she's seen substitute teachers working more than ever to cover the shortage.

"They work four or five days out of the week and they are called," said Stevens.

Madison City Schools spokesperson, John Peck, says the district currently has about 200 substitute teachers but would like to be at 300.

Madison County Schools spokesperson, Tim Hall, says the district has about 360 substitute teachers but would prefer 500.

Huntsville City Schools spokesperson, Craig Williams, says the district currently has 250 substitutes.

"You can always use more, especially during a pandemic. We've seen instances where schools have staff in quarantine and when you have a lot of staff members in quarantine, it forces us to have to make adjustments. That could mean re-implementing the staggered schedule or remote learning," said Williams.

While Huntsville City Schools is doubling its pay for subs, Madison City and Madison County schools are not.

"I don't think we get paid enough for the work we do," said Sullivan.

"We are being exposed to a lot more, being asked a lot more, even with the disinfecting and all that kind of stuff," said Stevens.

Despite the pay, both Stevens and Sullivan say they aren't going to stop doing what they love.

"If I can help one child, then it feels like I've done some good for them," said Sullivan.

Madison County is placing large signs at local schools and along major highways, advertising the need for more substitutes.

If you are interested in becoming a substitute for Madison City Schools, click here.

If you are interested in becoming a substitute for Madison County Schools, click here.

If you are interested in becoming a substitute for Huntsville City Schools, click here.

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