Winnipeg Schools Hire Substitutes to Address Teacher Shortages

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It’s a drastic transition for Sara Jantzen, who like hundreds of other fresh grads, has been asked to take the role of a full-time teacher.

This move follows the increased absenteeism of school workers with the rising spread of Covid-19’s third wave across Manitoba.

Several schools are grappling to fill gaps arising from staffing shortages.

However, a couple of departments may become overwhelmed with the increased hiring of new grads like Jantzen, who’ve been employed to work as substitute teachers.

Jantzen explains that she took up her new role on Monday. She’s employed at H.C. Avery school in The Maples, where she teaches grades 6 to 8.

The specific title she has is that of a supply teacher. This simply means that she’s a type of substitute, who will work most of the days, and can be moved around to different classes or even schools, based on the needs of various institutions.

Jantzen is among 150 other new grads, who’ve been employed as part of the Seven Oaks School Division.

According to Seven Oaks Supt., Brain O’Leary, at least 40 of them will be working on a daily basis, right off the bat.

In fact, he said there was a need to hire more teachers. As of Friday last week, there were 114 spots that needed to be filled, and they managed to fill just 71 of them.

Most of the vacancies had come up due to COVID-19 cases and the need for isolation. Due to this, a few high school classes had to be canceled and they also had to call in teachers from other departments to supervise younger students.

The provincial dashboard shows that so far, there are at least 400 COVID-19 cases among students and school staff. The cases that relate directly to staff make up one fifth of this figure.

The union, which acts on behalf of teachers, urged officials to declare a code red on all Winnipeg schools. This would pave the way for remote learning across the entire city.

Dr. Brent Roussin, who serves as the chief public health officer of Manitoba, says there aren’t any plans to shift to provincewide school closures.

However, he pointed out that a couple of schools have already switched to virtual learning on their own volition.

For several weeks now, educators and teachers’ unions have been urging those in charge of the vaccination program to prioritize school workers.

Unfortunately, Manitoba has adopted a different model that places an emphasis on all adults in designated high-risk areas. Eligibility applies to individuals in public-related positions- this includes school workers- who work but don’t necessarily reside in those areas.

Brian Pallister, premier of Manitoba, revealed that the province is working on a program that will see school workers based in North Dakota get prioritized for the vaccination.

More information related to this move will be released in the course of the week.

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