We all remember a teacher or two who had a positive influence on us. For me, it was a math teacher in high school who made me more confident in the subject matter than I have ever been. I may have only slightly improved my math skills, but she didn't give up, nor did she let me. Teachers do what they do because it's rewarding.

As more is learned about who is most affected by the Coronavirus, the debate continues across all parts of the country. Should all kids be returning to school full-time, in-person across the board?

Teachers' and teachers' unions are playing tug-of-war with medical experts and government leaders over this debate and their concerns are about both the physical and mental health of their students. Perhaps the pandemic-related issues are what's keeping more from joining the substitute teacher pool, or perhaps it's the credentials some thought were required to become a sub but no one has time to acquire due to their already hectic lives.

Even before the pandemic, KCRG says schools in Eastern Iowa were suffering from a substitute teacher shortage, only heightened by the events of the past year.

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They've eased the requirements, at least temporarily, to become a substitute, adding 137 subs who wouldn't have qualified under pre-COVID regulations. Because of a proclamation issued by Governor Kim Reynolds last summer, all you currently need is to be age 20, have an associate's degree, and completed 60 hours of college coursework.

There's a total of 287 subs in the pool this year, which according to Grant Wood Area Education Agency is still 77 short of last school year's number. Grant Wood AEA handles the substitute pool for 14 Eastern Iowa districts.  According to their website, their next substitute authorization class is April 22. So if you're highly motivated to lead and mentor students in the area, get in touch with them. It could be the most meaningful connection you make in a year where a connection is needed more than ever.

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