KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Schools across Kansas now could receive some much-needed help in the classroom.

The Kansas Board of Education votes in favor of an emergency declaration that temporarily lessens the qualifications for substitute teachers. School districts in Johnson and Wyandotte counties are ready to hire.

It’s widening one door, to keep schools from closing theirs.

“It’s an opportunity, another tool that we can utilize to keep our doors open,” Chief Human Resources Officer Eric Punswick said.

Usually there’s a minimum requirement of 60 college credits to hire subs. However, the emergency declaration removes this minimum requirement. Candidates must now:

  • Meet the minimum age requirement of 18.
  • Have a high school diploma. Individuals with a general educational development (GED) diploma/certificate aren’t eligible.
  • Have a verified employment commitment from a district or system.
  • Be fingerprinted and pass a background check.

“Because the requirements have lessened, doesn’t mean that we are still not going to look for quality individuals,” Assistant Director of Human Resources and Substitute Staffing Cynthia Fulks said. “It’s just that now the pool is opened a little bit more for those applicants to try us out and for us to give them the information they need. So quality is going to be real important in our interview process.”

This move is to hopefully solve the substitute teacher shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

If there’s a dedicated worker who runs through the paperwork, “we would be able to have somebody within the next week,” Punswick said.

Punswick said the need is great.

They have about 450 people in the current sub pool, but Blue Valley is seeing about 125 additional absences from staff a day overall.

“Currently, since we’ve been back from winter break, we’ve seen the need for over 150 substitutes every day,” Punswick said.

These positions are only temporary. Any license earned through the emergency declaration will expire June 1, 2022.

Until then, Fulks said they’ll walk subs through assignments and make the job openings flexible.

“You can now look at this opportunity and maybe just work on a Tuesday morning and a Thursday morning around your family schedule,” Fulks said.

Candidate for both districts will go through each schools same training as other subs.

“Which is a rigorous course to prepare them to be in the classroom,” Punswick said. “They have to pass an assessment.”

Each district gets to choose if they want to take advantage of it. Shawnee Mission has not yet decided but may talk about it Tuesday when their Leadership Team meets.

FOX4 reached out to the Olathe School District for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Information on how to apply can be found on each districts’ website.