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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says that there is a shortage of substitute teachers and that the pandemic has made the problem worse. It changed the certification process so there are fewer hours of education required.

Now they can be approved sooner. The certification process ends in early November instead of December 31.

For years, the state of Missouri has endured a teacher shortage, but state leaders say COVID made the lack of educators more prominent. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is making it easier to become a substitute teacher and spending millions to address the teacher shortage.

In August 2020 the State Board of Education approved a temporary option allowing applications to take 20 hours of online training instead of the 60 college credit hours. The emergency amendment decreased the number of semester hours or more of college-level credit from 60 to 20.

To become a substitute teacher in Missouri, now all an applicant need is a computer.

Substitute teacher training now includes a DESE-approved online course instead of the 60 semester hours. It covers topics like engaging students, supporting students with special needs, honoring diversity, classroom management, and basic instructional strategies, and working with at-risk youth.