HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Tom Wolf Friday signed a bill expanding the number of individuals eligible to substitute in public schools to help alleviate the need for teachers in classrooms.

House Bill 412 amends the act of March 10, 1949, known as the Public School Code of 1949. The bill will now provide flexibility for schools to ensure continued safe, structured learning environments for K-12 students.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned how critical in-classroom education is for our K-12 students,” Gov. Wolf said. “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.”

“There is a serious substitute teacher shortage in Pennsylvania, and this new law will begin to solve it by expanding the pool of eligible individuals who can fill these important positions,” said Pennsylvania State Education Association President Rich Askey. “We hope this will reduce the number of overcrowded classrooms and ease the burden teachers and support professionals are facing.”

Flexibilities for school years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 include the following:

  • Retired teachers are now eligible to fill teacher vacancies on an emergency or short-term basis.
  • Schools can use eligible college students and recent graduates of education programs to serve as substitute teachers.
  • Educators with active Pennsylvania certificates and those with comparable out-of-state certificates can serve as day-to-day substitutes for 20 days, or longer under certain circumstances.
  • Teachers with inactive certificates may substitute for 180 days instead of 90 days per school year.
  • Individuals who are 25 or older, have at least 60 college credits or 3 years of experience as a paraprofessional, and complete training on classroom management, may serve as “classroom monitors” by delivering preplanned assignments for a teacher.

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