WACO, Texas – All across Texas school districts are scrambling to replace teachers who become sick with COVID -19. In the past two, years their new hire rates have decreased.

“I think a lot of it has to do with COVID and all the other variants the stress the substitute shortage,” says Rachael Bourrage President of the Killeen Educator Association.

To ensure students get in person education, school districts like Waco, Killeen, and Marlin have extended their resources.

“One of our plans is to get our teaching assistants qualified and certified to become teachers. So through the grow your own model, our idea is to get them certified and give them their actual bachelor’s degree,” says Marlin ISD Superintendent Dr. Darryl Henson.

“We’re seeing that over the past two years that our students do better when they are in class. So that is our goal, to always keep our classrooms open,” says Waco ISD Communication Officer, Alice Jauregui.

And to reach that goal, other staff members have filled in when needed.

“We have programs in place for other teachers that are able to assist those classes that may not have a substitute. And they’re actually getting compensated for that,” says Killeen ISD Communication Officer, Taina Maya.

As FOX 44 News has reported, Omicron forced several Central Texas school districts to shut down earlier this semester.

“Due to the extension of the winter break, those days were already built into our calendar with the additional minutes,” says Dr. Henson.

And parents are wondering, will their children get the option to go virtual?

“TEA has not allowed the parameters in place to allow a district to go 100% virtual. They are saying that that district has to have 100% COVID cases must have 100% close contact and it would be for limited amounts of time,” says Maya.

Waco and Killeen ISD haven’t seen those kind of numbers this year. Waco ISD credits its mask mandate which was put in place despite governor Abbott’s ban on the practice.

“Trend has been going down, thankfully, so we have had less teacher call outs over the last week and less positive cases across the board,” says Jauregui.

Killeen, Waco, and Marlin ISD are constantly looking to recruit new hires.