SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is asking National Guard troops and state bureaucrats to volunteer to serve as substitute teachers as preschools and K-12 public schools struggle to keep classrooms open amid surging COVID-19 infections.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday the unprecedented effort to reopen classrooms in the capital city of Santa Fe and shore up staffing across the state.
Her administration says school districts and preschools are seeking as many as 800 substitute teachers and day care workers for shifts ranging from one classroom period to the entire day.
New Mexico has been struggling for years to recruit and retain educators, leaving teaching routinely to long-term substitutes who do not have teaching credentials.
A surge in infections linked to the omicron variant among school staff and teachers prompted a weeklong switch to remote classes at Santa Fe Public Schools that could end as soon as Monday.
State public education officials say volunteers from the National Guard and state agencies can qualify for substitute teaching with as little as two hours of training and a two-step background check. School districts will decide whether military personnel appear in uniform or casual dress.
The recruiting program seeks volunteers from a pool of 16,000 state workers and 4,000 troops.
Article Source: The Columbian