On Tuesday, January 11, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order (“EO”) N-3-22 in response to the recent surge of COVID-19 omicron cases. EO N-3-22 provides much needed relief to school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools struggling with staffing issues during the pandemic by lowering barriers that delay the hire of short-term substitute teachers, permitting substitute teachers to take on extended assignments, and providing additional flexibility to retired employees to return to service.
Current law permits county superintendents of schools to issue temporary certificates to certified individuals whose credential applications are being processed so long as the individual has demonstrated proficiency in basic reading, writing, and mathematics, and has made a statement under oath that a credential application has been filed and there is no known reason why the credential should not be issued. EO N-3-22 suspends these requirements through March 31, 2022. The other requirements in Title 5 (Section 80025.1) still apply, including requirements related to CBEST, Bachelor’s degree, and fingerprint clearance.
Additionally, EO N-3-22 provides school districts with greater access to substitute teaching resources. Current law prohibits substitutes holding an emergency career substitute teaching permit from serving in one assignment for more than 60 days during the school year. Substitutes holding lesser emergency credentials are currently permitted to serve no more than 30 days in a general education substitute assignment. EO N-3-22 extends these limits to 120 days in any one general education assignment.
EO N-3-22 also permits school districts to utilize student teachers for supervision, without a credentialed teacher being present, and to count the resultant average daily attendance for apportionment purposes through March 31, 2022.
Current law related to PERS and STRS prohibits retired certificated teachers that have attained normal retirement age from providing services for a period of 180 days following retirement and further limits the compensation that may be earned by retired teachers. EO N-3-22 suspends the 180-day break in service requirement for compensation earned by both classified and certificated retirees in service to prekindergarten through grade 12 districts, community colleges, and charter schools through March 31, 2022. EO N-3-22 further suspends the STRS post-retirement compensation limitations on retirees having obtained the normal retirement age through March 31, 2022.
The flexibilities granted by EO N-3-22 broaden the substitute pool for entities in need of additional services and allow for greater financial stability in the collection of average daily apportionment. Although EO N-3-22 provides these greater flexibilities to school districts, county office of education, or charter school attempting to maintain in-person education, it is important to note that district superintendents, county superintendents, charter school leaders, or their designees must make a written finding that temporary staffing flexibility will support the school district, county office of education, or charter school in maintaining in-person services despite staffing shortages caused by COVID-19 cases. Additionally, districts must ensure compliance with the temporary 120-day limit on substitute teaching assignments and are further advised to prepare transition plans for the expiration of the flexibilities granted by EO N-3-22 on March 31, 2022.