HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – Now that more classrooms at public schools are reopening to students, those schools need to find teachers.

The shortage of substitutes and full-time teachers is a statewide concern, including within Horry County Schools.

According to the HCS’s spokesperson, Lisa Bourcier, the district is short nearly 650 substitute teachers. Currently, the district has 955 substitute teachers compared to nearly 1,600 last year.

While substitute teacher shortages aren’t anything new for districts across the state, the pandemic amplifies the concern. The need for subs comes as teachers are absent for sometimes 10+ days due to quarantine or exposure.

Horry County Schools reports approximately 3,000 teachers currently working full-time with a district average of up to 200 daily teacher absences.

It’s a similar situation trending across the state.

“I’ve heard from teachers who at one school had enough for five substitutes, and the other classes had to go to the auditorium and social distance,” said Kathy Maness, Palmetto State Teacher Association’s executive director. “Now, what are those students learning that day? Nothing.”

“Teachers have to give up the time they have to plan their lessons to work with other students, to go and fill in for teachers who have to be out. They’re not out because they’re going to Disney World or going to the beach.” Maness said. “They’re out because they’re ill, having to quarantine or care for someone ill. It’s hard for districts right now.”

Some administrators are pulled out of offices and placed into classrooms, while teachers have to give up planning periods to juggle multiple classes.

Due to the struggle to get adults in front of children in the classroom, The Palmetto State Teacher Association said some districts are getting creative filling vacancies.

South Carolina Senator Shane Massey stepped out of his position and into the classroom for a day. “His district was having a hard time finding substitutes, so he went to be a sub for a day and put out on his social media. Hey, we can’t find substitutes. We want to leave schools open, be a sub for a day, and that’s another reason schools are having to close down,” Maness said.

On Tuesday, Governor McMaster announced the state’s transition to Phase 1B starting Monday, March 8th. Several teacher organizations said they wish they would have prioritized the governor’s announcement to get teachers back into classrooms more quickly.

Once teachers can get the vaccine starting March 8, the hope is that the shortage will improve, but it also creates concern whether teachers will be out more days after receiving the vaccine if they have side effects.

Horry County School officials report discussion among the district about increasing substitute teacher pay. Currently, substitutes are paid $80/day, and long-term substitutes are paid $120/day.

For a full list of substitute teacher qualifications and application details, click here.

Click here for the application.