ONTARIO – In a letter to parents, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) said that classes maybe cancelled or schools even temporarily closed due to COVID-19 related staffing shortages.
“Although there has only been one case of COVID-19 in the UCDSB, the number of staff members that are away from school with COVID-19-like symptoms, awaiting test results and/or self-isolating is increasing,” reads a letter sent to parents on Sept. 30 signed by UCDSB Director of Education Stephen Sliwa. “On any given day over the past week, we have had approximately 500 jobs to find substitute staff for. Finding staff to fill those positions is becoming increasingly difficult and we often have over 150 positions that go unfilled for the day, leaving schools short staffed. A major contributing factor is the length of absences. When a teacher is required to self-isolate for 14 days, an occasional teacher is needed for all of those days.”
The UCDSB said that while they hoped that closing schools would be a last resort, that it was an option on the table.
Last week, the UCDSB pointed to a lack of personnel for choosing to not have separate learning streams for in-person, remote, digital asynchronous, and print asynchronous learning and instead have one teacher teach all three streams simultaneously.
“It is important for our UCDSB families to know if we are unable to have adequate staff in our schools to supervise our students, classes within a school may need to be cancelled until coverage can be found. In extreme cases, we may need to close a school until we have enough staff to be fully operational. If this happens, parents/guardians would not be able to send their children to school,” the letter goes on to read.
The UCDSB said that they would do their best to inform parents as soon as possible if their parents class is cancelled or school is closed, but stated that this might not be possible until 6:30 a.m. the day of.