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Substitute teachers needed across Tampa Bay

Substitute teachers are filling long-term teaching positions, leading to a shortage.

TAMPA, Fla. — School districts are pushing back start dates and solidifying plans to protect teachers and students across the Tampa Bay area.

Many full-time teachers are having concerns about returning to in-person classes because of COVID-19. Some are choosing not to return this school year and others are retiring or choosing other career paths, leaving teaching jobs vacant.

The Florida Education Association says last year in the state, there were more than 3,000 open positions for teachers. Kelly Education says that every year, one out of five teachers does not return for the next school year for a variety of different reasons. That's where Kelly Education plays a role. The agency provides substitute teachers to schools across the country.

Locally, Kelly Education coordinates substitute teachers for the Hillsborough, Polk and Hernando county school districts. 

"About 70 percent of our substitutes are actually saying they will return to brick and mortar which is actually wonderful to hear. Many of our teachers haven't worked since March," said Cheryl Courier, the Vice President of the Southeast Practice of Kelly Educational Staffing. 

"The teacher shortage has really been growing over the last ten years. Now, you put COVID on top of it and we can expect substitutes more than we anticipate to take on long term teaching positions and take on teacher vacancies and yes, that causes us to have a shortage of substitute teachers," said Courier. With substitutes filling some of the more than 3,000 full-time teacher openings, Kelly Educational estimates that they have to hire 100 substitutes a week in order to have enough to fill in when a teacher calls in or gets sick.

Right now, there's no way of knowing just how many substitute teachers our local districts will need this upcoming school year, since many districts are currently surveying their teachers to see how many will return to in-person teaching and there's no way of knowing how many teachers will get sick and need coverage.

This also creates a job opportunity for many people out of work right now. If you're interested in learning more about becoming a substitute, click here.

RELATED: Here are the reopening plans for Tampa Bay school districts

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