Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Friday signed a bill to address the statewide shortage of substitute teachers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

House Bill 412, sponsored by Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), will reduce certain restrictions that dictate a person’s eligibility to serve in the position.

The new law will allow retired teachers and educators with active Pennsylvania certificates and those with similar out-of-state certificates to fill open certain substitute positions on an interim basis.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned how critical in-classroom education is for our K-12 students,” said Governor Wolf in a statement after the signing. “I am proud to sign this legislation which allows schools the short-term flexibility to ensure children can safely learn in-person where we know is best for them and their futures. I look forward to continuing to work with members of the General Assembly to address these key issues longer term.”

Furthermore, some college students and recent education graduates can now serve in the position. Former teachers with inactive certificates may substitute for longer periods of time under the legislation—180 days instead of the previous limit of 90 days per school year.

“The declining number of teaching certificates issued in Pennsylvania, plus the strain of bringing back students who have been out of physical classrooms for 18 months, has exacerbated the substitute crisis throughout the state,” Rep. Gleim said. “Schools have not been able to find enough substitutes to cover a day of classes for some time now and it continues to get worse.”

Labor shortages during the coronavirus pandemic have impacted almost every industry. To address a similar crisis, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC) announced that the hospital will establish an in-house staffing agency to solve its nursing shortage.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Tom Wolf” by Governor Tom Wolf. CC BY 2.0. Photo “Classroom” by Wokandapix.