By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – As the school year gets going, there’s a scramble for substitute teachers when COVID infiltrates classrooms. The need, some say, has never been more dire.

Parents like Lyndsay Anderson hope for the best as their kids start school.

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“I’m holding my breath that they get to have the most normal year as possible,” Anderson said. But normal, she said, isn’t always possible. “I’m worried about quarantining entire classrooms. I’m worried about interrupted learning.”

One possible interruption – the need for subs when any symptom at all could keep a teacher home. The sub shortage has only intensified amid the pandemic.

“It’s almost like a morning routine with how many unfilled subs are we going to have on a given campus – and the shuffle we’re going to have to fill those spots,” said Travis Mougeotte, back in 2020. A year later, the shortage rages on across the region. A quick scroll online shows hundreds of those jobs to fill.

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“It’s a very competitive market right now – because of quarantining,” said Xanthi Pinkerton at Elk Grove Unified School District. Her district, as well as San Juan, are raising their rates to recruit more subs.

In Elk Grove, long-term substitutes can be paid as much as $350 a day while day-to-day subs would make at least $160.

“Our substitutes are just critical when we do have those situations with quarantining of staff,” said Pinkerton.

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San Juan is paying $175 a day for a regular daily rate. Long-term pay is about $225 a day. On Thursday, San Juan Unified reported adding 16 new subs to their pool, but they – among other districts – still hope for more.