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DES MOINES, Iowa – Even with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ pandemic health emergency ending, paraeducators get to keep on substitute teaching.

On Tuesday, members of the Administrative Rules Review Committee approved an emergency rule that will allow paraeducators to substitute in multiple classrooms.

Last week, Donna Fiscus was worried she would be out of a job at BCLUW Schools.

“You just couldn’t ignore this. You need us and schools making the decision,” Fiscus said. “If they don’t feel myself or others are qualified, then they don’t use us. But they’re calling me. I’m qualified. I’m doing the job. So I’m glad I don’t have to end it.”

School districts were concerned staffing shortages could get worse if this part of the proclamation went away. The approval from lawmakers comes one day after the Board of Educational Examiners had an emergency meeting to pass the new rule

“Forty-five percent of vacancies in Des Moines for example went unfilled,” State Rep. Mike Bousselot (R), of Ankeny, said. “That means not only was there not a para, there was not a substitute, there was nobody teaching that class. It became a study hall. So something is better than nothing, and this gives something to those Iowa kids and it gives flexibility to Iowa school districts.” 

Since it is an emergency rule, lawmakers say they will review it over the summer to figure out what to do for next school year.

A spokesperson with Gov. Reynolds’ office provided the following statement: “Gov. Reynolds is glad to see that the BOEE and ARRC moved swiftly to approve the rule change to allow paraeducators to serve as substitute teachers in their districts. Gov. Reynolds is committed to finding long-term solutions to Iowa’s workforce issues and especially those that were outlined in the health disaster proclamation. This is one example of state government recognizing a solution and moving quickly to enact that without any lapse in services.”