PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. House passed legislation Thursday that would allow retired teachers to fill in as substitutes without jeopardizing their benefits.

The bill, introduced by Rep. William O’Brien, extends the time retired teachers are allowed to serve as a substitute from 90 to 120 days.

The extension would give retired teachers more time in the classroom and prevent them from losing, forfeiting or reducing their retirement benefits.

O’Brien said the legislation is in direct response to the ongoing teacher shortage the state is facing.

“This troubling fact poses a real threat to the quality of education received by some of our state’s students,” O’Brien said. “This bill will allow seasoned and experienced retired teachers to provide even more support in the classroom to help the dedicated but significantly short-staffed teachers and our students who deserve qualified and quality teachers.”

“Our teachers are the hearts of our schools,” Rep. Rebecca Kislak said. “We need to support them, we need to make sure that they feel supported so that they want to be teachers so that they don’t continually come up with these dire staffing crises that are hurting our kids.”

The bill now heads to the R.I. Senate for consideration. If signed into law, the proposed extension would go into effect immediately and last through June 30, 2025.