Demand For Substitutes Skyrockets As Some Districts Opt To Return To Class
SHAWNEE, Oklahoma - Before the OEA announced the end of the teacher walkout, some schools chose to reopen early.
Moore and Shawnee were forced to look for substitutes to replace teachers who continued their protest at the state Capitol, but the two districts took different approaches in their decision-making.
On Thursday, Shawnee Public Schools only needed eight substitute teachers, while Moore was looking for more than 400.
Moore substitute teacher Neana Lang says her phone started erupting with notifications as soon as the district made its announcement Wednesday. “When I first looked there was 12, and within an hour it was almost to 300.”
Lang is one of many substitutes who refused to fill in when administrators decided it was in the best interest of teachers and students to get back to class.
A district spokesman told News 9 around 500 teachers ended up calling in sick. He said only 100 substitutes answered the call for help.
“I just feel like they wouldn’t receive the education even if I was to go, but the major part is I stand behind our teachers,” Lang said.
At a heated meeting Wednesday night, families and teachers grilled the district's decision, feeling like their desires were not taken into account.
By contrast, in Shawnee it was the teachers themselves who made up their mind to end the walkout.
“Some buildings we’ve had as many as 90% ready to come back while one of our other buildings was more like 70/30%,” said Shawnee superintendent Dr. April Grace.
Grace said they already had a contingency plan in place for when the teachers were ready to return, allowing 29 of their colleagues to stay at the Capitol while only needing a minimum number of substitutes to replace them.
“You’re trying to be responsive to your teachers because it’s important to be supportive of them,” said Grace, “and really in the end what they did was landmark for public education.”
The district was prepared to rotate out the Capitol delegation if the walkout continued beyond Thursday, but they are now expecting a full staff in class on Friday.