Local legislators want to provide greater flexibility to hire substitute teachers amid COVID-19 pandemic

HARRISBURG – Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Representative Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) are soliciting support for a proposal they say will provide additional tools for school districts in the era of COVID-19.

The legislators plan to introduce legislation to allow for greater flexibility for substitute teacher certification in the Commonwealth in order to help school districts during uncertain times.

In order to be a substitute teacher in Pennsylvania, individuals are required to: hold a valid Pennsylvania educator certificate or out-of-state certificate, have a bachelor’s degree (if not certified), all necessary background clearances and be a U.S. citizen.

Under the lawmakers’ proposal, individuals could meet the requirement to be a substitute teacher who have completed 60 semester hour credits (or the equivalent of two years) at an accredited college. It would also allow individuals who are certified to substitute teach in other states to substitute teach in Pennsylvania.

“Our local school districts have done an incredible job at balancing concerns and needs of their respective community by listening to students, parents, teachers, administrators and taxpayers. We need to empower and not hamstring school districts at this point. This legislation will provide another option for school districts to utilize to be flexible and nimble during these very uncertain times,” Phillips-Hill said. 

“Before COVID-19 hit, we were hearing from teachers and students alike that there were not enough substitute teachers for school districts,” Gleim said. “Now that COVID-19 has compounded the issue, we need to be more flexible with substitute teaching certificates and requirements to expand the pool of qualified individuals.”

You can watch Senator Phillips-Hill’s comments about the legislation here.

You can listen to Senator Phillips-Hill’s comments about the legislation here.