LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan public schools can use non-teaching staff as substitute teachers the rest of the academic year under a law designed to address a shortage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that she signed the bill last week, calling it a “temporary stopgap.”

It lets secretaries, paraprofessionals and other school employees without a teaching certificate work as subs if they have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate.

The Republican-sponsored legislation was approved by lawmakers on largely party lines.

Michigan generally requires subs to have an associate’s degree or at least 60 hours of college credit.

In a statement released to News 8 Tuesday, the Michigan Education Association, the union that represents teachers, opposed the legislation:

“MEA opposed this legislation because it doesn’t set students or employees up for success. We don’t train teachers to drive busses (sic) and we don’t train bus drivers to teach math. Furthermore, this doesn’t address the real drivers behind the educator shortage — the lack of compensation and respect for the profession.

“As Gov. Whitmer said, this is a stopgap measure for the rest of this school year. We look forward to working with her and the Legislature on real solutions to recruit and retain educators into the profession in the new year.”

MEA spokesman Doug Pratt

The MEA added that there has been a shortage of teachers for years, but that the pandemic has made it worse.

“We need real, long-term solutions to fix a long-term problem,” Pratt added in a statement. “An example being the Launch Michigan educator fellowship proposal designed to bring more people into the profession.”