Dmitry Vereshchagin -
Interior of an empty school class

SANDY — Fifty-four Canyons School District teachers called in sick Thursday, which is the equivalent of three elementary school faculties, a district spokesman said.

To further complicate matters, illness is also depleting the district's pool of substitute teachers, according to spokesman Jeff Haney.

"The flu and bug season is here, and it has hit Canyons School District pretty hard," Haney said.

All classrooms were fully staffed but some substitute teachers had to switch their assignments to cover classes of teachers who called in sick or needed to be at home to care for their ill children.

On Wednesday, the school district also relied on 18 "emergency substitutes," many of whom are parents who live in the affected neighborhoods and have passed criminal background checks required of school volunteers. On Thursday, only six emergency substitutes were required, Haney said.

In other cases, teachers who had planning periods instead staffed other teachers' classrooms and school employees, such as instructional coaches, filled in where needed.

"I've done this for nine years and this is the worst I've ever seen it where we haven't been able to immediately cover all of the positions with the people out sick with our very substantial substitute roster," Haney said.

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While 54 teacher absences is considered to be on the high end of normal, "the problem is, when we turn to the substitute list, they're all sick, too," he said.

The district would welcome new applicants for substitute teaching positions, he said.

"If they're healthy, can pass the background check and have the requisite college credit hours ,give us a call," he said. The district's human resources office can be reached at (801) 826-5500.

Neither Granite nor Jordan school districts reported teachers taking sick days at rates out of the ordinary, officials said. Murray and Salt Lake City school districts did not immediately respond to inquiries.