EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Granite teacher union highlights substitute teacher shortage

Sep 2, 2021, 8:00 PM | Updated: Sep 3, 2021, 5:30 pm

One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the tea...

UEA President Renee Pinkney says there doesn't appear to be any severe teacher shortages around the state. File photo

SALT LAKE CITY — A teacher’s union for Granite School District says its schools are woefully understaffed with substitute teachers. 

Not enough substitute teachers

Granite District social studies teacher, Deborah Gatrell, posted to Twitter that five of her colleagues had called out sick and there were no subs to fill in for them Tuesday. 

Gatrell also previously ran for Salt Lake County Council, serves as chair of the Veterans Caucus with the Utah Democratic Party, and is a National Guard soldier. 

Teacher’s union echoes sub shortage concern 

Michele Jones, president of the Granite Education Association, said the substitute teacher shortage is a problem for many districts across Utah. 

“A lot of that has to do with the amount of pay the district can offer the substitutes, and the increased need due to COVID because we have more people out than normal,” Jones explained. 

However, Jones said Granite School District is doing everything it can to recruit more subs. It is also getting creative to fill vacancies. 

“For example, district people are substituting in classrooms,” said Jones. “In my high school, [I] had several district people the other day substituting for teachers that were out.” 

The pandemic is also putting a strain on the available pool of subs. Jones said the best fill-ins are retired teachers, but many of them are reluctant.

Jones said, “There’s a lot of those people that aren’t willing to put their name in the hat to do those kinds of jobs anymore because they feel they’re higher at risk.”

As for current teachers, Jones said there is a difference of opinion about the safety of this school year. 

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Granite teacher union highlights substitute teacher shortage