Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send students back to school in the fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. (Black Press file photo)

Chilliwack school district not expecting teacher shortage due to COVID-19

Retirements not increasing in School District 33, staff confirms

The Chilliwack School District is not expecting the COVID-19 pandemic to create teacher shortages.

Many teachers around B.C. have suggested in online forums they may retire this year if they aren’t satisfied with the safety protocols in place in their districts. But that hasn’t in Chilliwack happened yet, the school district confirmed.

There have been no new retirement announcements, and the district has had the usual number of retirements last school year in comparison to other years.

Chilliwack is also “continuing to hire teachers teaching on call (TTOCs) and at this time are not anticipating shortages,” the district confirmed via email to The Progress. A resignation in the district requires 30 days notice to the employee, but does not require district approval. Under the collective agreement, the district asks for “reasonable notice,” and generally retirements are announced by May 1 for the upcoming year.

Meanwhile, the district is working toward opening for teachers on Sept. 8, and students on Sept. 10. The first day of school for students will be brief, and an opportunity to see who is in their class and cohort, and to go over the health and safety rules. The first full day of school will be Sept. 11.

On Monday, a letter was sent out to all parents by Rohan Arul-pragasam, acting superintendent outlining what September will look like, inside and outside the classroom.

READ MORE: New hybrid learning model open to Chilliwack students

For one, he notes that as mandated by the government masks will be required for staff and middle/secondary students in high traffic areas. This includes buses, common areas and any time outside of their learning cohort. There is no requirement as of yet for elementary students to do the same.

Arul-pragasam notes this is the time for parents to speak about the importance of wearing a mask and physically distancing.

“It is important that we collectively ensure safety for our school community,” he underlines.

He also wrote in hopes of allaying fears that families may have, noting that the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced in June and “wide-ranging media coverage… has caused anxiety and trepidation for some families.”

The district will be submitting their plan to the MOE this week, and then releasing the plan to the public no later than Aug. 26. Part of that plan will include a hybrid learning model that Chilliwack is creating for those who want a combination of in-school and at-home learning.

“Finally, it is important to understand that as we welcome back students and families on Sept. 10, any increase in community or regional transmission of COVID-19 and case counts may require us to pivot to a different stage under the advisement of the Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Education,” he wrote.

READ MORE: B.C. school staff, older students required to wear masks in ‘high traffic areas’


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