How Will Subs Work When Schools Are Back in Mass.? One Principal Has a Plan

“We’re being asked to do something that’s inherently unsafe,” Sutton Memorial High School Principal Ted McCarthy principal said, “so how can we minimize the risk?”

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With Massachusetts schools planning for reopening this fall – even in a hybrid model – some schools are trying to figure out how substitute teachers would work.

Some schools and school districts have started to put out the call for subs – like Sutton Memorial High School, whose principal this week reached out to alumni who may be home this fall and looking for work.

But there is one important caveat: “Any sub that we’re going to be hiring this year is going to be committing to only work with Sutton Public Schools,” said Sutton Memorial High School Principal Ted McCarthy.

McCarthy said that’s in an effort to reduce the risk not only for students, staff and teachers, but the substitutes themselves.

“As long as they use the precautions – they wear the face masks, they’re cleaning, washing their hands, I’d be comfortable with that,” Millbury parent Jen Sharon said.

With the start of school in Boston drawing nearer, so is anxiety about what the school year will look like.

Substitute teacher Stacy Wilkes said, “I would volunteer to sub, and I’ve done it in the past. I would volunteer to be a hall monitor.”

While some parents in surrounding communities see subbing in their child’s school as a way to help kids get back in the classroom safely, others still have concerns.

“I think, with the coronavirus and everything, it’s going to be tough,” said Auburn parent Alyssa Cavalieri.

Jite from Douglas added, “I think, just given what’s going on right now, I think it’s just scary having people go into public spaces.”

The state's education department has issued guidelines for transporting students to and from school and how to keep buildings safe amid the coronavirus pandemic

McCarthy said balancing education and safety will be each school district’s most important ongoing mission.

“We’re being asked to do something that’s inherently unsafe,” said McCarthy, “so how can we minimize the risk?”

All of this is subject to guidance expected from the Department of Education and state officials in the coming weeks.

And the superintendent said everything they’re deciding depends on Chapter 70 funding from the state, which has yet to be determined.

“Going back to school in a pandemic has never really been done before,” McCarthy noted.

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