New Mexico Gov. Signs Up to Be Substitute Teacher as Schools Struggle with Staffing Nationwide

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Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico
Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico

Steven St John/Bloomberg/Getty Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is leading by example.

Last week, Lujan Grisham, 62, announced the "Supporting Teachers and Families" initiative, a plan to "provide critical support" to schools and child care centers amid staffing shortages caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative calls on state workers and National Guard members to become volunteer licensed workers for schools and child care centers.

Grisham has even volunteered to serve as a substitute teacher herself, according to CNN. Her press secretary, Nora Sackett, confirmed to the outlet that Grisham had completed the registration to become licensed for the role.

The governor, who has no prior teaching experience, told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield on Newsroom Saturday that the call for additional help comes at a last resort.

"There aren't any other options," she said, noting that she expects to be placed with an elementary school this week.

empty classroom
empty classroom

Jon Cherry/Getty

RELATED: Schools Are Asking Parents to Work as Substitutes amid Teacher Shortage: 'It Is So Bad'

"This work will not require the lieutenant governor to act as governor," Sackett told CNN.

Since classes resumed earlier this month from a winter break, around 60 school districts and charter schools within the state had to transition to remote-learning after staff members tested positive for COVID-19, or had to quarantine due to guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CNN reported, citing the governor's office.

Over 70 child care centers were also forced to partially or fully close since 2022 due to staffing shortages, the governor's office added.

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Lujan Grisham is now one of 100 people who signed up for the "Supporting Teachers and Families" initiative, per CNN. The group is evenly split between National Guard members and state employees.

"The whole goal is certainly not to interrupt the qualified experienced work that is required in our public schools," Lujan Grisham told the outlet. The politician added that the hopes for her newfound initiative are to "keep schools open and to support educators, parents, and students through the worst of omicron."

As of Friday afternoon, New Mexico's health department reported 6,198 new COVID-19 cases and a seven-day positivity rate of 29 percent.

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