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‘All hands on deck’: Northshore superintendent fills in during substitute teacher shortage

To avoid canceling classes, Northshore School District’s certified administrators and staff are stepping in to teach if substitutes aren't available.

BOTHELL, Wash — Northshore School District’s superintendent spent Friday morning teaching physical education classes as part of a district-wide effort to keep classes going during a nationwide substitute teacher shortage.

“Everyone in our district rolled up our sleeves and covered for one another and made sure that we were able to continue to provide classes today in a thoughtful way,” said Northshore Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid.

Seattle, Bellevue and Kent were among school districts nationwide that canceled classes Friday due to a substitute teacher shortage. Seattle Public Schools said an "unusually large number" of staff were taking leave Friday.

Many Washington state schools were also closed Thursday for Veterans Day.

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Instead of canceling classes, Northshore, which covers Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville, moved certificated administrators and other staff into classrooms. Reid was one of the staff members recruited to help out at North Creek High School.

It’s a strategy that Reid said the district has used for several weeks now and plans to continue doing until they can recruit more substitutes.

“Today’s been honestly like a number of days have been recently,” Reid said. “It’s all hands on deck here.”

Staff shortages are affecting school districts all over the country, with many also having to cancel classes or return to online learning.

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Reid said many substitutes who tend to be older and retired have not returned during the pandemic. She also said fewer people are coming out of education programs than in the past, which is compounding the staff issues.

"I really think we're in a moment of time that really is going to be an opportunity for all of us to reimagine what school looks like as we excite a new generation to come work in our schools,” Reid said.

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