ONTARIO — Last week, the Oregon Teacher and Standards Commission issued a temporary rule for an Emergency Substitute Teaching License, after multiple school districts across the state are facing staffing shortages, including those in Malheur County.

The license will waive the bachelor’s degree requirement unlike the Restricted Substitute License that requires the degree.

To obtain an emergency license, an applicant must be sponsored by an Oregon school district, education service district or charter school and these aforementioned districts and schools must cover the cost of the license, by either assisting the applicant in submitting the application or reimbursing the applicant for expenses.

Applications must be submitted on or before March 31, 2022. Those received on or before Dec. 31, 2021 will be issued the license through June 30, 2022.

For applications received on or after Jan. 1, 2022, the license, will be issued for six months.

The applicant must pass a commission background check, including fingerprinting. Once the background is clear, the applicant is then eligible to accept substitute assignments with the sponsoring district.

The holder of the license, may only accept substitute assignments within the sponsoring district and a single assignment on the license may not exceed 10 consecutive days.

The license, is not renewable and is not subject to the 120 day grace period.

Malheur Education Service District Superintendent Mark Redmond commented on the substitute shortage and how the ESD is responding to the shortage.

Redmond said in his discussions he has had with school districts, and their teachers it “feels like its April.”

He said that ESD is actively recruiting for substitute teachers, having 61 substitute teachers available in the county

The main reason why substitute teacher numbers are so low, according to Redmond, is because a majority of substitute teachers are retired and are over the age of 60-years old and fall into the at-risk category in getting COVID-19.

He is also concerned about the number of bus drivers and cafeteria workers, as there is a very small list of people who can fill in for them.

The newspaper reached out to the Ontario and Vale school districts for comment on the emergency license rule and whether they would become a sponsored district.

Vale School District Superintendent Alisha McBride said the district just received information "and will be considering the license as an option to expand our list of substitute teachers.”

An Ontario School District official said they would comment on the emergency rule this week.

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