(TRENTON) – Aiming to create a pathway for qualified individuals to become substitute teachers as schools struggle to fill vacancies during the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano (D-Union) and Pam Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) was signed into law Tuesday by Governor Phil Murphy.
The new law (previously bill A-5295) permits a candidate for a substitute teacher credential who is enrolled in a regionally accredited institution of higher education and has completed at least 30 credits to serve as a substitute teacher. Students must be at least 20 years old and apply for their substitute teaching credential before June 30, 2023. School districts may establish additional criteria for the employment of substitute teachers.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, a substitute teacher may fill a vacant position for up to 40 school days and for an additional 20 school days if a district cannot hire an appropriately certified teacher within the 40-day time limit.
Assemblywoman Quijano and Assemblywoman Lampitt released the following joint statement:
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools had difficulty finding qualified substitute teachers to fill gaps in staffing. As schools transitioned to remote and hybrid models for most of the past year, it became even more challenging for many to recruit substitute teachers.
“Allowing college students who have completed a majority of their training to serve as substitute teachers will help address critical staffing shortages in schools, as well as give teaching candidates real world experience before officially beginning their careers. This new law will benefit students as well as current and future teachers well beyond the end of the pandemic.”