LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Lawton Public Schools is looking for more substitute teachers in anticipation of a busy flu season.
The district said without them, schools could have to shut down if too many teachers call in sick.
They have round 270 subs, but they’d like to bring that number up to 400. LPS Assistant Superintendent Barbara Ellis said the district has around 1,000 certified staff members and during flu season they can have up to 40% out.
Ellis said on any given day, they can have from 80 to 100 substitute teachers in the classrooms or helping out around campuses.
"Substitute teachers are the end all be all,” Ellis said. “Because if there is not a teacher in the room, who is going to be there? Who is going to be there for the safety of the children?”
When there isn’t a sub, because no one is available or they’re already going to a different class, it can disrupt not only that class but other classes as well.
“We have to put classrooms together or put people in positions where they are working with more students than they are normally working with,” she said. “Not anything of the range that is unmanageable, but still a range that would be a little more difficult for the normal day.”
It is not only substitute teachers they need, Ellis said backups are needed for almost all positions for the school to run smoothly.
“Teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodial, cafeteria, that kind of thing,” Ellis said.
Some positions like substitute teachers require a college degree or a certain amount of college hours while others only require that you have a high school diploma. Even though they have around 270 subs, Ellis said they do not have enough if there were a large flu outbreak.
“We would not be able to sustain the school,” she said. “We would not be able to manage the care of children in our schools.”
While LPS is preparing for the flu, Duncan said on Monday they had five classes where they couldn’t find enough subs to say yes to coming in.
Altus, Duncan and Cache all said they need more subs while Elgin said they are doing well.
All substitutes must pass background checks to work at LPS.