Lack of subs causes teachers to lose plan period

Dominick Bartels, News Writer

Omaha Public Schools (OPS) “seems to be” experiencing a shortage in substitute teachers causing regular classroom teachers to have to cover classes during their plan period, Lynne Braddock, assistant principal at North High, said.

According to Cheryl Connors, English teacher at North, finding a sub is “quite difficult,” unless “you plan well in advance or know [a sub] personally,” leaving many teachers without a specific sub to cover their classes. In cases where a substitute teacher is absent, North High teachers, who have plan period, must cover those classes during that time.

According to Braddock, while teachers are entitled to a plan period, Omaha Education Association (OEA), the union tasked with negotiating teacher salaries and work conditions, have agreed to allow teachers to forfeit their plan since, “they are being compensated for their time.”

During plan periods, teachers don’t have a class, so they can work on updating grades, filling out paperwork, or provide extra help to students.

“I know I’d lose my plan, but at least I’d be teaching my students, my lessons,”  Connors said.

Losing this time puts pressure on teachers to “complete [their] tasks in less time,” Connors said.

Braddock said a “rotation system” is used to select teachers to cover. Teachers with student teachers also cover during their scheduled plan blocks.

Having to cover and losing this time caused “stress and frustration” to Connors causing her to not take a plan period on B days but, rather, teach another block.

“Having an extra class ensured that I would not have to cover,” Connors continued, “I knew I would still lose my plan period, but at least I would be teaching my own students, my own lessons.”

Sheila Connor, English teacher at North, has a student teacher and finds herself covering her whole plan period rather than just half. Connor said that teachers can also request her to cover their classes if they are planning to miss school.

Connors added, “The legality of student teachers being left alone is also an issue.”