The Governor’s Office recently approved an extension of the allocation of funds from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to support Missourians wishing to serve or currently serving as substitute teachers during the staffing challenges Missouri schools are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This opportunity for reimbursement, as well as the newly-approved alternative route to obtain a substitute teaching certificate, was first announced in October as a way to address the substitute teaching shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This alternative certification route allows individuals who possess a high school diploma (or its equivalent) to complete a 20-hour online training to be eligible for a substitute certificate. There is a $50 application fee for the certificate as well as a $175 online training fee.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will use the identified CRF funding to reimburse any individual who has paid the application fee between November 5, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Reimbursement will begin after March 31, 2021. DESE will also use CRF funds to reimburse any individual who has paid the online training fee from November 5, 2020 through February 28, 2021.
The online training program, Frontline, will begin processing those reimbursements after February 28, 2021. There is no action required by the substitute teachers to be reimbursed; the payment method used to pay these fees will be automatically credited. To qualify for the alternative route to substitute teacher certification, individuals must complete the online training by February 28, 2021; the emergency rule that allows this alternative route, approved by the Missouri State Board of Education to address pandemic-related staffing shortages, expires after that date.
Substitute teacher candidates must also pay $41.75 for a fingerprint background check for each local education agency (LEA) in which the substitute teacher intends to work. Substitute teachers may sometimes pay this fee multiple times, if they work in multiple LEAs.
CRF funding is also available for LEAs that choose to reimburse substitute teachers working in their schools for the required background check fee. The individual must have completed their fingerprint background check between November 5, 2020 and March 31, 2021. To access these CRF funds, the LEA must submit to DESE an application and a list of those individuals to be reimbursed. The application is due by March 31, 2021.
More information about these reimbursements, as well as recent updates to substitute certification rules, can be found on DESE’s substitute teacher webpage, https://dese.mo.gov/educator-quality/certification/substitute-teachers.