Longer holiday break could be key to school staffing woes: Manitoba School Boards Association

The president of the Manitoba School Boards Association says a longer-than-usual Christmas break could be a solution to staffing issues at a number of schools in the province.

Al Campbell told 680 CJOB that with some teachers out sick or self-isolating, a longer break might help beef up their numbers.

“The idea of having the Christmas break start earlier is certainly something that has been discussed and will continue to be discussed,” he said.

“School boards are very aware of the staffing challenges that exist — of course, the challenges are different depending on which part of the province you’re in, and whether or not there have been positive cases of COVID-19 in schools.”

Read more: Heightened restrictions begin in Winnipeg schools Monday

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On Tuesday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said a longer Christmas break is something the province has considered as well.

Campbell said his organization has been getting in touch with teachers on both ends of the career spectrum — those just finishing up their education and those who have already retired — in an attempt to fill teaching shortages.

“Teaching candidates from post-secondary institutions… we’re making sure they have the opportunity to get into schools as quickly as possible as part of their learning process,” he said.

“And then at the same time, we’re actively working with retired teachers to get those individuals back into the system, either in the classroom or through remote opportunities as well.”

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Despite increased restrictions for businesses and gatherings across the province, schools remain — for the most part — unchanged as far as provincial rules are concerned.

Teachers said earlier this month in a letter to the province that Manitoba’s education system faced “imminent collapse” without additional funding for education during the pandemic.

Provincial Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced earlier this month that the province is working on establishing a “remote learning support centre” at a cost of $10 million.

Some of that money will be used to hire more than 100 teachers and 20 educational assistants to help put together the unit, said Goertzen.

“Our teachers have done an incredible job delivering remote and blended learning, and the remote learning support centre will ensure the support necessary for remote learning to be sustained over the long term,” said Goertzen.

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“Division capacity varies greatly, and the new remote learning support centre will ensure that all divisions will have the resources needed to support all teachers and students.”

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