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A US state is calling on members of the National Guard and others to volunteer as substitute teachers.
As a result, there have been nationwide shortages in several key industries, including teaching.
In response to these shortcomings across several areas of work, the state government has decided to streamline the process that allows National Guard members and state workers to fill in as substitute teachers, aides and care workers.
Schools are among many businesses facing 'extreme staffing shortages', according to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. STAF, known fully as the Supporting Teachers and Families initiative, should provide a way for students to access in-person learning without having to work from home or have classes cancelled.
'Our kids, our teachers and our parents deserve as much stability as we can provide during this time of uncertainty, and the state stands ready to help keep kids in the classroom, parents able to go to work and teachers able to fully focus on the critical work they do every single day in educating the next generation,' Lujan Grisham said in a statement, as per NPR.
Prospective substitutes will have to go through a background check, online workshops and other requirements. They're also allowed to use administrative leave to help out with the vacancies; at the moment, the State Personnel Office allows for up to five consecutive days of paid leave at any time, but there'll be certain balances put in place so state services don't suffer as a result of people helping out in schools.
'We've heard from multiple districts that a lack of substitute teachers is among the most critical staffing issues right now, and they've asked for the state's support. We are ready to step up to support our teachers, who have been on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years now, by increasing the state's pool of substitute teachers,' Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus also said.
'The whole goal is certainly not to interrupt the qualified experienced work that is required in our public schools – but just to shore them up to stay open. And I hope maybe that it'll stay as we develop a pipeline. The whole point here is to really support... hospitals, health care workers, child care workers and schools,' Grisham also told CNN.
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