Dealing with substitute teacher shortage in Oak Ridge

·1 min read
Students arrive for the first day of school at Woodland Elementary in Oak Ridge on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
Students arrive for the first day of school at Woodland Elementary in Oak Ridge on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

While news coverage about the U.S. worker shortage has focused on restaurants and other businesses, there's another impacted area: substitute teachers.

Matthew Bradburn, executive director of human resources for Oak Ridge Schools, told The Oak Ridger the school system has been "on par with previous years" in filling other positions, but has struggled in finding substitute teachers.

"Substitute teachers have always been difficult to come by, and the pandemic and other factors in the labor market during the past 18 months has increased that difficulty," he said.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic, retirement of some potential applicants, and competition from other jobs have all played a role.

Harry Shanafield, from left, Aubrey Kilpatrick and Sydney Blanchard work on robot attachments.
Harry Shanafield, from left, Aubrey Kilpatrick and Sydney Blanchard work on robot attachments.

The school system, he said, is currently partnering with the TN Teacher Job Connect outreach program that is administered through the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Association of School Personnel Administrators.

"This program connects us with both teachers and substitutes that are actively seeking employment in education throughout the state. It has been a great source for increasing our pool of substitute teachers and for directing applicants to our website. We will continue to pursue any recruiting efforts possible to keep the district as fully staffed as possible," he said.

Oak Ridge hasn't been the only city having trouble with a shortage of substitutes. Last year, Clinton High School closed two days in September due to 23 people in its pool of substitute teachers being in quarantine for COVID-19.

Ben Pounds is a staff reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317, follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal and email him at bpounds@oakridger.com.

This article originally appeared on Oakridger: Dealing with substitute teacher shortage in Oak Ridge