CALGARY (CityNews) — As Students in Calgary prepare to head home and online on Monday for a two-week circuit breaker – CityNews has learned that the resources were no longer there to keep students in classrooms.
Dr. Bryan Szumlas, Chief Superintendent for the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD), says his board began talks with Alberta Education over spring break and the decision came right on time – as rising school cases interrupted staffing.
“A little less than 20 per cent of our teacher jobs were not being filled on a daily basis,” said Szumlas. “That put significant stress on a principal in a school because then they’re looking at who can supervise students so they’re safe during the school day.”
The Calgary Board of Education responded to the situation saying:
“The CBE is in continual conversations with Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services on matters related to COVID-19. Through these conversations we expressed our concerns to Alberta Education and outlined the impacts of COVID-19 on our ability to operate schools.
We appreciate that the government has taken the concerns of Calgary school boards seriously. The government acted decisively to help support students and minimize disruptions to learning.”
CityNews talked with students at Western Canada High School, in which many raised concerns with missing staff members and having assistant principals teach due to the shortage of substitute teachers.
Alberta Education approved the request by the school boards on Thursday – a welcome move by the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA).
“If this is what needs to be done to ensure the safety of our staff and students then I can get behind that decision,” said the president of the ATA, Jason Schilling.
But, Szumlas says there’s one more thing he’s pushing the Alberta government to consider, to help ensure this is the last time schools head fully online.
“It would be great to have school staffs vaccinated. I’m calling out the government again, please take this seriously.”