Permanent Substitutes: The COVID-19 Substitute Solution

School districts across the country are dealing with the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is it especially important to provide students continuity in education during this already turbulent school year, but schools will likely face higher absences than normal as staff will use sick time more liberally as a precaution during the pandemic. This increases the need for substitutes and makes the critical mission of finding effective substitute coverage even more difficult. Fortunately, ESS knows the steps to establishing a viable substitute program that meets our partner districts’ traditional and remote learning needs and is able to supply substitute coverage when and where it is needed most.

ESS Permanent Substitute Programs

ESS’ permanent substitute program identifies a group of highly qualified substitute teachers from our district partner’s pool of substitute staff, analyzes historical absence data for each school building, and assigns an appropriate number of substitutes directly to each school. These substitutes report to their assigned school each morning, readily available to fill critical vacancies or last-minute assignments.

Since ESS’ permanent substitutes report to the same school each day, they become a reliable long-term cultural fit for that school. They develop relationships with students and staff, master teaching strategies for both traditional instruction and any remote learning technologies used by the school, learn the school’s policies and procedures, and strictly adhere to any established COVID-19 safety protocol. Students experience a better education when working with familiar, confident substitutes, and the regular teacher can rely on these qualified substitutes to effectively continue the lesson in their absence. And, permanent substitutes reduce exposure to COVID-19 and simplify contact tracing by reporting to the same school building rather than working in many school buildings.

Customized Community Recruiting Campaign

Increased staff leave and resignations, difficulty finding enough qualified candidates willing to accept positions, and strained resources due to increased staffing needs are challenges many districts are facing. ESS’ resources and innovative recruiting strategies allow us to overcome these challenges, find qualified candidates in any community, and provide substitute coverage for our partners.

ESS crafts a multi-faceted strategy for recruiting qualified permanent substitute candidates for our district partners. Our efforts incorporate social media, online job boards such as CareerBuilder and Indeed, and partnerships with local colleges and universities. We work with several local colleges to increase the chances of finding top talent. Attending job fairs, recruiting on campus, using the university job boards, and building relationships with their career guidance centers ensures we have access to fresh talent, eager to get a start in the classroom.

In order to draw in qualified candidates and retain talent, ESS provides attractive benefits and perks.  We start with making sure our substitute staff are well taken care of, offering health benefits, weekly pay, working incentives, and providing comprehensive training to prepare them for the classroom.

Preparing Permanent Substitutes

School districts can’t take any chances this year – each vacancy needs to be staffed by a well-trained, well-prepared permanent substitute to ensure each day is a valuable learning day. ESS’ permanent substitutes are provided comprehensive training before they begin working with students. School policies and procedures, including any applicable COVID-19 safety protocol, are reviewed extensively. Trainings also cover instructional strategies, classroom management, and special education.

ESS’ permanent substitutes are also be trained on remote learning technologies and virtual instructional strategies to ensure students attending class digitally are succeeding along with their peers in the classroom. Permanent substitutes are trained on how to ensure all students in the class, both in-person and virtual, are active, engaged, and participating at all times. This school year demands more flexibility of our educators, and ESS’ permanent substitutes are capable of supporting student achievement in all learning environments.

Supporting School Districts in Need

For the past 20 years, ESS has been committed to providing solutions to school districts in need – and this is true now more than ever. Partnered with more than 750 districts in 29 states, we have developed a cutting-edge permanent substitute program to support our partners this school year.

We recruit top talent from the local community, analyze absence data to assign substitutes, offer benefits and incentives to substitute staff, and assign local management teams to handle the day-to-day management of the program. Each substitute is provided the industry’s leading training, including traditional and virtual instructional strategies, information on remote learning technologies, COVID-19 safety, and any additional information as requested. School administrators can choose to allow substitutes to be assigned automatically or to manually place each substitute where they see fit – our permanent substitute programs are customized to each school’s needs.


Contact ESS to learn more about how our permanent substitute program is helping school districts remain staffed with highly qualified personnel when and where they need them most.