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Act 91: Providing Relief to the Field to Address Pennsylvania’s Substitute Teacher Shortage

Dear Colleagues,

Across the commonwealth, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate critical staffing shortages. Act 91 of 2021 focuses on the substitute teacher shortage and is the next step PDE is taking to address educator shortages in a holistic way. In addition, LEAs have four existing options for implementing staffing flexibilities.

Broadly speaking, Act 91 enables LEAs to employ annuitants, day-to-day substitutes, educators with inactive certification, graduates of educator preparation programs, and a subset of those serving as student teachers to be employed as substitutes. Act 91 provisions complement existing statutory and regulatory options that have been available to the field since before the pandemic. Details on both sets of provisions are attached.

Regardless of the option chosen to alleviate critical staffing shortages, PDE encourages LEAs to speak with their solicitor about any specific employment or service questions related to their use as well as the Act 91 provisions. In the coming weeks, additional guidance will be forthcoming to support school leaders in the implementation of these options. PDE will inform the field through existing modes of communication when this guidance is available.

Please direct any implementation-related questions about Act 91 or existing statutory or regulatory options to PDE's certification resource account,

Pennsylvania's educator shortage has reached dire proportions and we must work collectively to develop solutions to address the various crises affecting our schools across the commonwealth—be they rural, suburban, urban, small, medium, large, or distressed. Act 91 is premised on the concept that we need to make the educator profession more enticing to more individuals, whether they are high school graduates or those seeking to change careers. We also need to welcome back those learners who aspired to enter the educator profession but encountered state and institutional barriers that prevented them from completing their studies.

PDE welcomes your thoughts, ideas, and comments on how we might achieve a vibrant educator pipeline responsive to local needs so that we don't lose the opportunity to make a lasting impact on improving education in our commonwealth.