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School districts turning to job fairs during rise of omicron, decline of substitute teachers

Sylvania and Perrysburg school districts are hosting job fairs to attract candidates for numerous open positions desperately needed to keep kids in class.

LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — Local schools are struggling to find substitute teachers. It's a trend that the COVID-19 pandemic has only made worse. 

Some schools have been left with few options and required to cancel classes suddenly or have shifted to temporary remote learning. Most are requiring masks as the omicron variant forces teachers home. 

That has districts working to get substitutes and keep students in the classroom.

Kristi Spiess is a former full-time banker. She took a break from working to raise her children. Now that her kids are in school, she's also a candidate at Sylvania Schools' substitute job fair.

“I want to contribute to our family and give my time to the schools to be able to not sit at home and do nothing,” Spiess said.

It's not just Sylvania.

Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler says his district had to get more aggressive when it comes to finding subs.

“There’s still a lot of people who are interested in subbing but they’re staying on the sidelines," Hosler said. "I think COVID has people spooked, some are retired and they just don’t want to take the chance. Others, there are other opportunities out there for them."

The issue isn't just because of COVID. Hosler says there's been a decline in people working in education for years, which means the issue could extend beyond the pandemic.

“That’s a huge concern because if there aren’t the high school teachers and the elementary teachers along the way, who’s going to help prepare those nurses and engineers, and those other folks that we’re short of?” he said.

RELATED: COVID-19 pandemic leaves teachers stressed, ready to leave profession

Hosler says substitute numbers could bounce back should COVID cases decline, but for now, school districts will have to keep pushing for more help in the classroom.

If you are interested in working as a substitute, Perrysburg is holding its own job fair Thursday, Jan. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the administration building located at 140 E. Indiana Ave. in Perrysburg.

The district is looking for subs, monitors and bus drivers. Several other positions are also needed. Walk-ins are welcome.