California makes it easier to hire teachers amid shortages caused by COVID wave

California is making it easier for school districts to hire teachers and other workers amid staff shortages caused by the latest wave of coronavirus cases, the governor said Tuesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom said he has signed an executive order to give schools more flexibility in making staffing decisions, such as giving substitute teachers extra hours and rehiring recently retired for short periods. The order expires at the end of March.

“These are short-term challenges that require short-term and targeted solutions,” said Newsom, a Democrat.

The rapidly spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 is sidelining school staff statewide a week after 6 million K-12 students returned to classrooms after the winter break.

Newsom said he hopes to speed up a recruiting process, which is typically time-consuming, and allow school districts to “keep our kids safe in person for the rest of the year and get through the next three to six weeks or so.”

The California Teachers Association, which represents some 300,000 educators statewide, said it recognizes the need for flexibility in hiring and urges school districts “to focus on substitute teachers, recent retirees, and student teachers. “

“The executive order is certainly not the answer to long-term staff shortages, and we look forward to working with the governor, legislators and the education community in rebuilding our education pipeline, which has been devastated by this pandemic,” the association spokesperson said. Lisa. Gardiner said in a statement on Tuesday.

Newsom also said the state is working to get more COVID-19 testing in schools. Last week, Newsom and state officials were criticized for failing to keep their promise to give all California students and school staff rapid home tests before classrooms reopened after the break.

Millions of test kits were sent to families, but not millions more, and there were long lines at test sites.

Newsom announced the executive order during a stop Tuesday at a Kern County medical clinic, where he emphasized his proposal to expand health care for all Californians, regardless of immigration status.

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