Maine Launching New Campaign in Hopes of Getting Substitutes To Keep Schools Open Through the Pandemic
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
COVID's Impact on Schools
If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times, I can't imagine being a student in the last few years or being a parent of a child in school.
I've witnessed my peers struggle through maintaining their own jobs while having to be home with their kids for virtual learning, and perhaps more difficult the touch and go of being back to in-person learning and never knowing when an exposure might happen or a staff shortage might happen and the kids unexpectedly need to stay home.
Additionally, I can't imagine being a kid and having that social aspect of education being taken away. There are kids that haven't had a normal school year ever. It's a completely foreign concept. Not to mention that for a lot of kids going to school is a welcome and needed break from home life.
One group that has often been forgotten is the teachers. Their work life as they knew it was turned upside down in mid-March of 2020 and hasn't been the same since. There's mounting pressure to perform under unprecedented circumstances not to mention the pressure of keeping themselves and their students safe. I can imagine that all a teacher really wants to do right now is go back to normal. Without masks and with kids working closely in groups without fear of getting sick.
Combating Shut Downs
Schools state-wide have experienced severe staffing shortages. Both due to teachers leaving the field to teachers and administration having to quarantine from exposure and illness. Bus drivers have come out of retirement to offer a helping hand. Superintendents stepping into other roles as needed. Now the Maine Department of Education is pushing for community members to join the cause.
Guest School Staff Member Campaign
A guest school staff member is more or less a new term for a substitute teacher. This is a group effort from the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine. The hope is to make becoming a substitute teacher more streamlined so more people sign up and ultimately prevent schools from needing to shut down and give kids the best in-school experience possible under the circumstances.
A new website was launched that you can see here. It takes you through 9 simple to understand steps to be a substitute. Whether you want to be in a classroom, the lunchroom, or on the playground.
The process to become a substitute teacher does involve a $15 application fee and a $55 fingerprinting fee and with this campaign, those costs will be automatically reimbursed.
They hope that those who work for companies that offer volunteer days will consider this as a volunteer option.
Once an applicant is able to substitute the program encourages people to post on social media about how much they enjoyed their experience and use the hashtags #Sub4ME, #GuestSchoolStaff, #BeAGuest, #BeASub in hopes of encouraging others to join in the effort.
For full details on the effort, click here.