A school district in Texas is calling on parents to ditch their day jobs and work as substitute teachers as COVID-19 cases surge across the state.
The Hays Consolidated School District put out the call for moms and dads in a Jan. 6 Facebook post.
“Attention Parents: Now hiring certified and eligible non-certified Guest Teachers!” district officials said. “Rewarding work in education that fits YOUR schedule!”
Approved applicants will receive “competitive” pay of up to $150 per day, “ongoing training opportunities” and access to health insurance and other bonus programs, according to the notice.
“Must be able to proficiently read, write, speak and understand the English language,” an online application reads. “Experience working with children preferred.”
The district also emailed a flyer directly to parents last week asking them to consider working as a sub, KTBC reported.
Any parents considering the move would need to pass a criminal background check and complete an orientation. But if they’re known to school officials and come recommended, the district may waive a required minimum of at least 30 college hours, the station reported.
The district that serves more than 20,000 students in Hays County outside Austin typically has 500 substitute teachers in a normal school year.
The district, however, began the year with only about 100 subs due to the raging Delta COVID-19 variant. The pool of approved fill-in teachers has recently risen to roughly 300, but demand is continuing to surge due to Omicron, officials said.
In a typical year prior to the pandemic, Hays CISD would get roughly 185 requests for substitutes each day during the week after Christmas break. The figure for the first week back to school this year reached as high as 289, KTBC reported.
Some 292 requests for substitutes were received Tuesday, district officials told the station.
A message seeking comment from the district was not immediately returned Thursday, but a spokesman told KVUE the call to action to parents is a better course of action than the potential alternative.
“Is it better to have someone who didn’t have the 30 college hours in the classroom teaching, or otherwise having those kids stay home?” district spokesperson Tim Savoy said. “We think that it’s better to have them in school.”
A private school near Austin has also turned to parents for staffing issues as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state, KTRK reported.
The substitutes at Austin Jewish Academy — where tuition costs up to $15,925 annually — are nearly exclusively parents, according to the station.
“It’s really tough on a day we have teachers who need to be home because they’ve had a positive diagnosis,” principal Chris Aguero said.
The situation has grown so dire that Aguero has had to take on new roles at the school, including teaching himself, KVUE reported.
“I covered a humanities class this morning and taught grammar, parts of speech,” Aguero told the station this week.
Interested parents must also meet with school staffers to make sure they’re the right fit for the job, Aguero said. Some parents of students at Austin Jewish Academy said they understood that times are tough during the pandemic.
“I think it’s great,” Aron Wolinetz said. “Parents are definitely qualified.”
But not everyone is on board, apparently.
“So instead of improving the conditions for students, teachers and staff yall have decided to hire scabs?” read one reply to the Hays CISD hiring call on Facebook.
“If it wasn’t our children that are having to suffer for this, I would think y’all are a bunch of comedians,” another reply read. “Clowns.”
Some 365,495 new COVID-19 cases have been tallied in Texas throughout the past week, with testing positivity exceeding 35%, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The state recorded its record high of 451,298 cases between Jan. 2 and 8, data shows.