SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Schools across California are dealing with a massive substitute teacher shortage since the return to in-person learning, and South San Francisco Unified is no exception.

The substitute shortage is so dire that SSFUSD Superintendent Dr. Shawnterra Moore and school district staff members have recently been taking over classes.

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It’s an all hands on deck situation for many districts.

“My assistant principals have been in classes, counselors are on deck to help when there’s a need. We’re all pitching in,” said South San Francisco High School principal Kevin Asbra.

The shortage of substitute teachers is widespread across the state.

“The substitute teaching pool, they’re a harder population to predict,” said California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Executive Director Mary Vixie Sandy.

In the 2018-19 school year, the agency issued about 64,000 substitute teaching permits. In 2020-21, that figure dropped way down to about 47,000, partly due to distance learning during the pandemic.

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“The state hasn’t necessarily stimulated the recruitment of substitute teachers to date, but local school districts have,” said Vixie Sandy.

Increasing pay is one way, but budget constraints can limit a district’s options.

Sites like have multiple listings from school districts trying to recruit more substitute teachers by increasing pay and using social media.

“We haven’t been seeing a lot of applicants unfortunately,” said South San Francisco Unified School District Spokesperson Peter Feng.

“There’s a fair amount of anxiety that families and educators feel as we try to meet this moment,” said Vixie Sandy.

Various school officials say the average pay for a substitute teacher pre-pandemic would typically be around $100-to-150 a day.

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Some districts are offering a lot more now in the range of $200 to north of $300 a day according to Vixie Sandy.