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Central Coast schools struggling to find substitute teachers

Teacher creates national database of Covid-19-related school closures
Posted at 10:54 PM, Apr 08, 2021

The Central Coast is desperate for substitute teachers.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Barbara County Education Office told our team that California saw declining applications for substitute teachers. However, starting in March 2020, administrators say even fewer substitutes wanted to step into Zoom or in-person classes.

Central Coast school districts got creative when it came to recruiting and training new substitute teachers. At the Santa Barbara County Office of Education, there were 91 substitute teachers prior to the lockdown, which decreased to 36 last May.

Santa Barbara Unified School District went from 331 substitutes to 254. Lompoc Unified went from 150 substitute teachers in their pool to less than 100.

Goleta Union previously had 135 pre-pandemic, to fewer than 50 substitute teachers. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, that number dwindled to 19. Today, through their efforts, they now have 50.

Aside from advertising on places like and, Goleta Union School District raised the daily substitute teacher pay from $120 dollars to $180 dollars. Their substitutes receive training for three days prior to their assignment, and the district hired three permanent substitutes per each school site.

Student teachers who work in Goleta can now substitute for the teachers they work under, and classified staff such as librarians, aides, playground supervisors and so on can also substitute if they have a bachelor’s degree.

The school district told us that the Commission on Teaching Credentialing temporarily waived the testing requirement, known as the CBEST or the California Basic Educational Skills Test, during the pandemic. So now applicants need to provide proof of their bachelor’s degree, complete a Tuberculosis test, submit their fingerprints and apply to the specific school district.

David Simmons, Assistant Superintendent at Goleta Union School District, said they also recruit online substitutes for Zoom classes, as the schools within their district are not hybrid: students are either fully on Zoom or in-person. Their grades go from pre-K through sixth grade.

At Lompoc Unified, Deputy Superintendent Bree Valla says teachers have the option to teach Zoom and in-person classes simultaneously. Valla helps oversee elementary through secondary-aged students.

The District provided large screen televisions and video cameras with poly-bars, or movement trackers, that follow the teacher as they walk around and engage in the classroom. The televisions sit in the back, behind the in-person students, and the students learning via Zoom are projected onto the screen.

***UPDATE 4/14/2021
Our team spoke with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education regarding substitute certification.

They let us know that they reduce their pool of substitute teachers by nine, that were active in the classroom during the 2019-2020 school year since the pandemic.

Substitute permits are issued at the discretion of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. An application, along with proof of a bachelor's degree; meeting the basic skills requirement and passing a background check with both the department of Justice and the FBI are required. For a limited time the basic skills requirement may be waived by the CTC if requested by the applicant. We happily guide people through the application process, including the request the applicant makes to CTC to waive basic skills. We let the applicant know there are other ways, besides CBEST to meet basic skills such as certain score levels of the ACT and SAT exams.
Thomas Alvarez, Chief Human Resource Officer at the San Luis Obispo County of Education