The Near North District School Board recently said that students are never excluded from a class due to staff shortages. Instead, the board will close the entire class. In an article from September 1, the board added that “as of yet, we have not shuttered classrooms due to E.A. shortages.”
“However,” the board continued, “we expect that we could be in this position in this school year.”
Specifically, the board’s Safe Schools Team provided the explanation, emphasizing the shortage of educational assistants (E.A.) within schools puts some classes at risk of closure.
BayToday reached out for further comment soon after the original quote, and last Friday, board staff followed up.
Staff noted that only one class was closed last year due to a lack of available staff, and that was only for one day.
“While we continue to struggle with E.A. staff shortages (as does every board across the province) school administrators do everything that they possibly can to ensure classes are covered,” staff noted.
“From a Safe Schools perspective, we hope to never be in a situation where we have to close classes, however, the safety and well-being of students at school is our number one priority.”
Staff also emphasized that classroom closure “is very different from an individual student exclusion.” Exclusions – where students are removed from a classroom – are not issued “due to staff shortages,” staff said. Students are excluded “for one reason only: safety.”
“We continue to try innovative and creative methods of attracting and retaining qualified educational assistants,” board staff added. “Community members who are qualified and interested in these positions can visit our website to apply.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.