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Could volunteer substitute teachers help reopen Crook County schools? Perhaps

Crook County schools Stay Safe Stay Open

District welcomes those with an interest, after Judge Seth Crawford's post

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) – Crook County Judge Seth Crawford sparked much discussion Wednesday with a Facebook post indicating more volunteer substitute teachers could reopen schools sooner. That prompted school district officials to lay out the possibilities and requirements.

The school district announced earlier in the week that in-person learning that began this fall, one of the few districts in the region to do so, will end and students will return to distance learning next week, in large part due to staff and substitute teacher shortages amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Crawford said he made some calls and got “some great news. We CAN open the schools back up if we get enough volunteers who meet some basic requirements.” In fact, he wrote, “I will personally be volunteering!” and said the district needs at least 10 substitute teachers with a bachelor’s degree.

That could help in coming weeks, but the school district said a return to distance learning will still happen next week, though officials hope changes at the state level could bring students back to schools after Christmas break.

Here's a message Superintendent Sara Johnson sent out later Wednesday.

Dear Valued Parents,

Wow. What a great community we live in!

You might be aware by now of the community efforts to help our teachers and bring children back in the classrooms as soon as possible. We are so grateful to live in a place where people support our students and educators!

We look forward to working with folks to find solutions and keep the doors open. We’re reaching out to provide you with some information on ways to help out, but we need to provide a few clarifications that are important for community members and families to understand. We welcome the help, but there are a few barriers outside of our control.


  1. Comprehensive Distance Learning. Crook County Schools are still moving to Comprehensive Distance Learning starting Monday, December 14th. There are not enough certified substitutes in the current pool to provide coverage right away. Our hope is that schools are only closed next week, and that we can reopen after Christmas Break on Monday, January 4th.
  1. Volunteers. Due to COVID-19, state regulations prohibit volunteers in our buildings to keep students and staff as safe as possible. Unfortunately, parents and community members aren’t allowed to volunteer until those restrictions are lifted.
  1. Safe Harbor. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is considering extending Safe Harbor, which allows schools to remain open in partnership with the Crook County Health Department. Your School District is in discussions with ODE and there will be more conversations at the state level about this possibility. We will provide an update to families as soon as we learn more.


  1. Become a Substitute. If you are interested in helping out or know of someone who might be, we’d love to hear from you. We have information posted on our website that outlines the process and how to contact our Human Resources Department. Thank you for your willingness to serve our children and families.
    1. Become a Substitute for Crook County School District
  2. Check out Employment Opportunities. We have a number of jobs currently available on our website and keep an eye out for additional opportunities. We will soon be hiring more custodial staff to help with sanitizing and cleaning our schools. If you’re interested, please apply online here: Crook County School District Employment Opportunities

Thank you again for all of your support. We greatly appreciate the community spirit that’s alive and well in Crook County!

Warm regards,

Sara E. Johnson, Superintendent

The district also provided this information on substitute teaching:

Crook County School District (CCSD) – Pathway to Substitute Teaching

CCSD contracts with High Desert Education Service District (HDESD) to provide substitute teachers for our District.  All of our substitute teachers are employees of HDESD and subject to their policies and procedures.

In order to be eligible, substitute teachers must have a teaching license through TSPC.  Those who have a Bachelor’s Degree, can apply for a Restricted Substitute License with a letter of support from CCSD.

The process for obtaining a Substitute License to work in CCSD schools is:

  1. Contact Sean Corrigan, Director of Human Resources at
  2. Provide your full name, email address, phone number and the Bachelor’s Degree earned
  • Complete a TSPC fingerprinting and background check – TSPC’s online application page will explain how to do this.  Substitute teachers are not authorized to work until this background check is complete.  This may take 1-2 weeks to complete.
  • High Desert ESD will contact you to complete the following before you begin:
  • Employee onboarding or hiring process
  • Drug and Alcohol testing
  • Safe Schools online trainings
  • Once applicants have completed HDESD requirements and the fingerprinting and background check, HDESD will let them when know they are eligible to work in the schools.  HDESD estimates that the process will take approximately two weeks.
Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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