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TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) -- The Kansas State Board of Education on Wednesday morning voted unanimously to declare an emergency, easing restrictions on who can be substitute teachers amid the state's massive shortages due to COVID sickness.

School districts across the state have been reporting high rates of staffers sick with COVID-19, putting a massive burden on the ability to temporarily fill those spots with substitute teachers.

Kansas education leaders chose to ease that burden by declaring an emergency and lowering the standards needed to qualify as a substitute teacher. Previously, applicants needed at least 60 credit hours from a regionally-accredited college or university. Under new rules stemming from the emergency declaration, substitute teachers will now only need to be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma, pending a finger-printing and background check. 

Those with only a GED are not eligible.

Those getting cleared to substitute teach who do not meet the previous standards will be given at Temporary Emergency Authorized License. These licenses are set to expire on June 1, after which the individual would need to meet the previous requirements, if the emergency declaration is lifted by then, according to the state Department of Education.

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