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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) is making a push to hire paraeducators and substitute teachers as part of its reopening plan.

Campuses have recently reopened to students for in-person learning, with safety guidelines in place. As of this post, district spokesperson Ryan Burris said they were “completely staffed” but are always open to expanding and maintaining a pool of applicants in case of turnover.

The district has increased daily pay rates for substitute teachers to $175, up from previous rates of $125 and $100. CUSD has also increased advertising for positions in local news outlets and printed banners at schools.

The recruitment push is particularly important for elementary school students, Burris said. Elementary students have been a notable focus in the district, as classroom learning resumes and the district attempts to return to a semblance of normalcy. Paraeducators assist teachers and other school staff with student instruction.

“It’s a crucial need to fill those positions and making sure we’re prepared for whatever happens,” Burris said.

Superintendent Kirsten Vital mentioned staff needs during an Oct. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

“One challenge we’re facing right now is hiring,” Vital said. “We need paraeducators, substitute teachers and student supervisors. … Please tell your friends and neighbors. We are hiring, all paid for by the CARES Act funding to support opening schools in CUSD.”

Outreach in the community has gone smoothly, and CUSD is making sure new hires are trained for their positions, including the possibility that CUSD continues operating under existing conditions for the upcoming months, Burris said.

Under CUSD’s phased reopening plan, special education programs and services and elementary education reopened for face-to-face learning starting in September, while middle schools and high schools reopened in October. Students still have the option of continuing with virtual learning, if families so choose. Students and staff must wear masks and practice social distancing while on campus.

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.

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