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Stitt announces an executive order to address teacher shortages

A new ordinance will allow Oklahoma government agencies to allow their employees to help keep children in schools by replacing education throughout the state. >> Related: Oklahoma leaders are pushing districts to keep students in the classroom as omicron spreadsGov. Kevin Stitt said during a press conference on Tuesday that he will issue an executive order that will allow state employees to become substitute teachers. He also urged all Oklahomans to contact their local school districts to see how they could help as teacher absenteeism increases amid the spread of the omicron variant. The governor said the executive order is being drafted on Tuesday and state employees will be ready to mobilize as soon as Wednesday. The announcement comes after districts across the state, including several in the Oklahoma City metro area, temporarily moved to virtual learning or closed last week due to staff shortages. Oklahoma Education Secretary Ryan Walters said most districts have an onboarding process for temps. He also said state employees would be required to undergo a background check. >> Related: Oklahoma's school districts decide when to resume personal classes. Stitt and Walters cited how children's academic performance and mental health were adversely affected by not being in the classroom in -personal learning. Oklahoma COO Steven Harpe said they were successful during the pandemic that moved state employees around. He said he thinks they will be successful in helping to address school problems. The governor was asked if the Oklahoma National Guard would be called in to replace the teaching, but he said National Guard members have not been considered for it. Walters made headlines last week when he suggested that some school administrators do not do everything to continue personal learning. He said schools could reach out to businesses, nonprofits, churches and parents in their search for substitute teachers. >> Related: Oklahoma state leaders plead with districts to stay open "Please sign up. We'm taking part-time temps. We're taking full-time temps," Walters said last week. "I think it's best to give parents the opportunity for personal instruction. What we're looking at is a temporary replacement." Walters stepped in to act as substitute teacher after making the comments.

Gov. Kevin Stitt and other state leaders are holding a press conference to announce an executive order that will address Oklahoma's teacher shortages.

>> Related: Oklahoma leaders push districts to keep students in the classroom as omicron spreads

Stitt's office said the ordinance aims to help schools suffering from staff shortages and teacher shortages and to prevent further school closures in Oklahoma. The news meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Open the video player above to watch the news conference live.

Other heads of state expected to join Stitt include Education Secretary Ryan Walters, Oklahoma COO Steven Harpe and State Treasury President and CEO Chad Warmington.

>> Related: Oklahoma school districts are deciding when to resume personal classes

Several school districts across the state moved momentarily to virtual learning or closed last week, citing staffing issues and student absenteeism amid the proliferation of the omicron variant.

Walters made headlines last week when he suggested that some school administrators did not do everything to continue learning personally. He said schools could reach out to businesses, nonprofits, churches and parents in their search for substitute teachers.

>> Related: Oklahoma's state leaders are urging the districts to remain open

"Several school districts today that reached out to all parents in the community and said, 'Please sign up. We take half-day substitutes. We take full-time substitutes,'" Walters said last week. "I think it's best to give parents the opportunity for personal instruction. What we're looking at is a temporary replacement."

Walters stepped in to act as a substitute teacher after making the comments.

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