HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Raise your hand if you’re a parent willing to step into a substitute teacher role, due to COVID-19 staff shortages.

That’s a new call the Hays Consolidated Independent School District is putting out, directing principals on all campuses to start recruiting parents who may be able to help out.

On Tuesday, Hays CISD said it needed 292 subs. On average this time of year, the district told KXAN it would usually only have about 185 requests. A spokesperson for the district credits the roughly additional 100 requests to the surge in omicron COVID-19 cases.

Expanding the recruiting field was a logical step to take as the district deals with shortages because of COVID-19.

At Negley Elementary on Tuesday, some classrooms were combined with students crammed into one room because of teacher shortages. Classrooms across all Hays CISD campuses were dealing with this.

“When I came in this morning, and I saw my sub list was empty, I freaked out just a little,” Negley Principal Melody Crowther said.

Hays CISD parent Natalie Vogt
Hays CISD parent Natalie Vogt

Crowther said she had 15 vacancies just at her campus. Hays CISD released a full list of campus absences from Tuesday.

“I mean, if you’re sick, you’re sick,” said parent Natalie Vogt, who is a new volunteer substitute teacher for the district.

Vogt is one of three who raised their hands — volunteering to step into the new role without hesitation. She just got approved on Monday, taking a risk that she feels is well worth it.

“There’s less COVID anxiety now, even though it’s spreading so rapidly,” Vogt said. “I’ve just been staying at home for the last few years with my younger daughter, so it seemed really good. It seems perfect.”

The district does background checks on all teachers, including subs. They are requiring anyone interested in helping to have 30 hours of college credits or a direct referral from a campus’ principal. 

“Our parents are wonderful, they know what our expectations are,” Crowther said.

In the meantime, campuses will continue following their split list model — condensing classrooms, when there’s not a sub to cover for a teacher who’s out. Hays CISD hopes its call for help doesn’t go unanswered. 

“I know that my parents would do anything for me, if they knew I needed the help,” Crowther said.

As of Tuesday morning, the district said three new parents had applied to be subs.