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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Substitute teachers are becoming a scarce commodity for school districts as they continue to emphasize the importance of in-person learning this school year.

Oklahoma Education Association President Katherine Bishop says she’s concerned about the lack of subs.

“Many of the substitutes have not returned,” she said. ” Talking with districts across the state, they may have had hundreds of substitutes in their substitute pools are down in the 50s.”

Bishop says it makes it harder on the staff during a regular school week.

“If a site does not have enough substitutes for the day, teachers are giving up their plan time to cover that class,” she said.

“You could see the exhaustion on their face. They’re doing double duty. They’re teaching in person, they’re putting classes online. They’re covering classes.”

Mustang Public Schools executive director of human resources Chris Tobler agrees.

“There are not a lot of people wanting to substitute during a pandemic,” he said. “Our fill rates is down to some extent so also our teacher absences are up so it’s kinda a complex problem.”

Mustang is one of a handful of local school districts that are implementing raises.

“The superintendent and school board recently initiating a raise for subs of all types,” he said. “We think that will create a positive trend.”

Putnam City Public Schools is implementing incentives of its own.

The district’s spokesperson says that they’re offering a referral bonus for any employee who recruits new subs, and any fully vaccinated subs who meet a required number of hours will receive a $1,000 stipend.