The North Carolina Board of Community Colleges recently approved a policy that makes it easier for bachelor-degree holding college graduates to obtain a teacher license and become elementary-school educators.

The move is designed to increase the number of teachers in public schools after a pandemic-induced shortage has developed in recent years.

“North Carolina community colleges are making it easier and more affordable to become an elementary school teacher in your community,” said N.C. Board of Community Colleges interim president Dr. Bill Carver in a statement. “We are committed to supporting the needs of the state through education programs that quickly and appropriately prepare graduates for vital classroom responsibilities.”

The teacher licensure program is slated to be available at five community colleges — Alamance, Central Piedmont, Fayetteville Technical, McDowell Technical, and Western Piedmont. The applications from each college must be approved by the State Board of Education before the new programs can be implemented.

“The new program for bachelor-degree graduates to receive a teacher license at five North Carolina community colleges is a good step in the right direction,” said Dr. Robert Luebke, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. “It helps address the growing teacher shortage in a manner that students will find flexible and affordable. Kudos to our state community college system. Once again, they see a need and are taking steps to meet it.”

A report released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction in early February showed there were 5,540 instructional vacancies on the first day of the 2022-2023 school year across all school districts.