Early outbreak of flu forces schools to rely on subs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Early outbreak of flu forces schools to rely on subs

IOWA CITY (KWWL)- The week of October 19th was one few had seen before.

Not many in the Iowa City Community School District could prepare for what was about to hit.

"There were a couple of days in a row there where they sent out four or five emails throughout the day in the evening begging every sub on the email list to please, please, accept the job," said substitute teacher Brad Selken.

One hundred of 915 teachers in the district called in sick that week leaving schools scrambling to find subs to fill jobs.

"We have definitley seen an increase with our absences for our teachers," said Dr. Jim Pedersen, the ICCSD Director of Human Resources.

The district has a large pool of more than 300 well-qualified subs to pull from.

But a strong wave of flu was spreading from school to school affecting full time and substitute teachers alike, forcing the ICCSD to get creative.

"There are days when we can't cover. We're 95 percent covered but not totally covered.  Those days maybe we have to combine classes or an administrator has to cover," said Pedersen.

Selken went from subbing two days a week, to essentially filling in full time.

"All the subs are working a lot. There's no question about it, that we have a lot more jobs to fill."

The wave has since passed and more teachers are back in their classrooms.

With flu season still lurking in the coming winter months, subs are prepared should they be hit hard a second time.

"There are a lot of different strains of flu and you never know, you always got to be ready to come to school," said Selken.

The district spent $1.5 million on substitute teachers during the 2008-2009 school year.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner

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