The omicron surge has led to increased absences among students as well as staff, prompting the governor to issue an emergency order making it easier to hire substitute teachers through March 31.

Many workplaces are short-staffed due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, spurred by the highly infectious omicron variant. Among those workplaces are schools, which are striving to remain open for in-person learning, but facing teacher and staff absences related to infections and exposure to the virus

Gov. Gavin Newson signed a temporary executive order on Jan. 11 to expand the options school districts have to hire substitutes. 

The order allows districts to provide 30-day emergency substitute credentials to people (even if they aren’t working to get one) who have an undergraduate degree from accredited colleges and universities, and pass a criminal background check. 

 “We agree that the order will enable us to bring in the additional staff we need during this stage of the pandemic in order to continue providing the students of our district with a quality education in a safe, in-school environment,” Rebeca Andrade, superintendent at Salinas City Elementary School District, said in a statement. 

The executive order took effect immediately, and will expire on March 31. 

The order also extends the maximum time period substitute teachers can be on a single general education assignment from 60 to 120 days, and enables student teachers to teach without direct supervision.

Katie Balesteri, SCESD’s Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, said that extending the time substitute teachers can work will help them to fulfill the district’s needs and increase its stability. “We have staff absolutely willing to work, but because the previous order mandated they could only be in an assignment for 60 days, we had to bounce them around. With the new 120-day allowance, we can use them in place, where they already fit, and it’s more effective for the students and for them as well.”

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