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COVID-19 Cases Have Led To Substitute Teacher Shortages, Moves To Remote Learning In Many Suburban School Districts

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A substitute teacher shortage is creating a big problem in some suburbs.

As CBS 2's Steven Graves reported Wednesday, it was a truly all-hands-on-deck approach at Deerfield Public Schools District 109 in the north suburbs, which has about 2,600 students.

Leaders have asked qualified parents to apply as teachers online, and are tapping other staff members to step in.

"A librarian might be a first-grade teacher, or our music teacher might be in fourth grade," said Deerfield Schools Supt. Mike Simeck. Our goal from the beginning has been to get kids to school and keep them there, and the communication today was an all-call."

The all-call comes as Deerfield District 109 says since Monday, 66 staff and students tested positive for COVID-19, or reported positive cases. On Wednesday, the district did not have enough substitutes to fill 25 positions.

A similar situation was seen in District 47 in Crystal Lake. They have had 74 positive cases since Monday, and they were short 26 substitutes on Wednesday.

They were also short 16 bus drivers, which delayed routes Wednesday morning.

Staffing shortages have led to at least three school closures in Elgin District U-46.

In the southwest suburbs, Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 has gone to remote learning next week for all schools. And in Niles District 219, students are doing virtual instruction for the next two weeks.

One small school district in McHenry County is on the verge of closing.

"If we have to go to a pause, we would do it for five school days and then reevaluate," said Dr. John Bute, superintendent of Prairie Grove School District 46. "When we have staff that are asymptomatic - they don't have a sore throat, fever, cough or other issues - but yet they're excluded for up to 10 days, that's a problem for us."

Multiple school districts in McHenry County have issued a letter asking the state Department of Public Health and Board of Education for guidance on quarantine measures.

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