AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an effort to keep classrooms open amid teacher sick calls during this COVID-19 surge, the Austin Independent School District is sweetening the deal for substitutes starting Tuesday.

In an AISD Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, a plan to get more substitutes was laid out that includes reducing the amount of college credit hours required and increasing daily pay rates.

Now, people with fewer than 60 college credit hours can apply to be a sub and pay is anywhere from $115-$225 per day when incentives are factored in. Substitutes are eligible for a $25 bonus per day if they cover a class when Austin-Travis County is in Stage 5 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. If subs fill in for an entire month during Stages 4 or 5, they could be eligible for a $300 bonus.

Base rates for substitutes depend on the certifications they hold, the length they’re teaching and where they teach. They are:

  • $165/day for permanent subs at underperforming schools
  • $150/day for certified subs
  • $140/day for subs with a college degree
  • $130/day for subs with more than 60-plus college credit hours
  • $115/day for subs with fewer than 60 college credit hours

Applicants will be screened and background checked, and substitutes will be trained before starting.

AISD Chief of Human Capital Leslie Stephens said around 400 people who work in the district’s central office are filling in as substitutes.

“We’ve structured it so for a central office staff members it’s the same day of the week, every week,” she said.

Stephens said the new strategies were pulled from other districts in the area.

AISD officials said if there’s “evidence through contact tracing of spread in a classroom,” they’ll close that classroom. That happened once this week at St. Elmo Elementary School, officials said.