Saskatchewan Examiner

As COVID-19 spreads across Saskatchewan, some schools are reorganizing their staff

Some Saskatchewan schools are reorganising their staff as COVID-19 spreads

Key takeaways:

  • As a result of the increased absenteeism caused by COVID-19, some Saskatchewan schools have had to reorganize their staff.
  • According to the Chinook School Division, 89 cases have been reported in 16 of the district’s 29 schools since January 3.

To deal with increased absenteeism caused by COVID-19, some Saskatchewan schools have had to shuffle staff into new positions.

“We are still able to keep all of our schools staffed with enough adults to continue with the school day thanks to our staff’s continued creativity and flexibility,” Regina Catholic Schools spokesperson Twylla West said.

“A principal, for example, might cover a class, a Learning Catalyst Teacher might take a break from their work to teach a class, and so on.”

Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, said that while he doesn’t know how widespread the problem is, it’s a concern he’s heard from members as Omicron makes its mark on the province.

“Absenteeism will be a major concern,” he said.

Also read: Major Saskatchewan events are disrupted by COVID-19

“Our organization and members continue to believe that the best learning occurs when students are in our classrooms, in our buildings, and consciously learning and that when that is no longer possible, the obstacles that come with that to students’ education manifest.”

Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, was concerned about the implications of such staff shuffles for students, particularly those with special learning needs.

“When you have ESL teachers, learning help teachers, and they’ve managed to pull out of their tasks, it’s not making the best use of those teachers’ skills, and also the students they work with aren’t getting the additional work they require, the attention they need,” Maze said.

As a result of a “large number” of COVID-19 cases, the Good Spirit School Division has announced that Yorkton Regional High School will temporarily move all classes online. Global News has gone out to the division to inquire about how COVID-19 has affected its staff and teachers this semester but has not received a response.

Regina Public Schools has confirmed that two of its schools’ classes have gone online as well.

COVID-19 has had an impact on students and staff in several other school divisions, according to Global News.

Since January 3, 89 cases have been disclosed in 16 of the Chinook School Division’s 29 schools, according to the district.

Since classes resumed, Regina Catholic Schools has noted 230 cases.

Some Saskatchewan schools are reorganising their staff as COVID-19 spreads
Some Saskatchewan schools are reorganising their staff as COVID-19 spreads. Image from CBC News

The Regina public school division did not offer a specific number of reported cases. Still, a spokesperson said the district is dealing with the most schools with cases reported since the pandemic started.

“We’re not reporting case numbers right now; we’re only reporting schools that have had cases reported to them,” Regina Public Schools Communications Director Terry Lazarou said.

“These figures aren’t as trustworthy as they once were. Please keep in mind that cases were declared and provided by the Saskatchewan Health Authority prior before and that we are now relying on parent/guardian/student and staff self-reporting, which can be unpredictable.”

The responsibility of case reporting and contact tracing, according to Twylla West of Regina Catholic Schools, “is in addition to our usual work, and certainly takes a lot of time and resources.”

ACCORDING TO DAVIDSON, the SSBA has heard worries from school divisions regarding the increased workload. He’s even heard of divisions employing extra staff to help with the increased workload for existing staff and teachers.

“Getting all that work done is taxing on our administrative staff.” We are, after all, educators. That’s our area of expertise, and we believe this is a foray into health-care work, so it’ll be challenging,” he said.

“Parents can rest assured that school divisions are continuing to work with local health officials to ensure the safety of their children and staff.”

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