THE Louis Riel School Division is looking to bolster the ranks of its teaching staff by hiring non-teachers who would be certified as substitutes.
"It’s become challenging for not just us, but all of us across the city and province," said superintendent Christian Michalik.
"We find ourselves having hired additional staff to be the solution to keep our schools running, to keep our schools safe, and now with the pandemic taking the turn it’s taken in our community, we see a growing number of staff away due to illness or due to the virus."
In a letter published in the Thompson Citizen Tuesday, Manitoba Teachers’ Society president James Bedford said teacher resources have been stretched thin, leaving them exhausted and strained.
"We have spoken repeatedly of deteriorating mental health (which is) the result of relentless change in protocols, simultaneous teaching both remotely and in person, a burgeoning workload, and the lack of substitutes for teacher absences," Bedford wrote. "Despite the government’s claim that additional teachers have been hired this fall, numbers are inadequate to the task."
One option is to issue a limited teaching permit in which accreditation would be offered to people who don’t have a teaching degree, but do have an undergraduate education in a particular subject, Michalik said.
The non-teacher route is more commonly used in rural areas, Michalik said, but has rarely been needed in Winnipeg. As resources in the Louis Riel division dwindle and substitute teachers move to permanent positions to fill in other teachers, however, the time has come to bring in new faces.
In July, the division started a campaign to hire at least 100 supply teachers, but was only able to hire 43. The recent call for new applicants is an extension of that hiring campaign, Michalik said.
Applicants will go through the certification process, and successful applicants will be granted a one-year teaching permit for a specific job.
Michalik said the Louis Riel division needs French immersion teachers.
"The feeling is that with this pandemic and all the unfortunate impacts on us as a community, we think maybe there are folks out there with undergraduate degrees that would welcome an opportunity to work," Michalik said.
The Winnipeg School Division is considering a move to hire non-teacher subs. In an email Tuesday, WSD spokeswoman Radean Carter said the division is currently able to meet its teaching needs but is "contingency planning for the future."
"Hiring non-teacher subs is being considered but we haven’t committed to going that route at this time," Carter wrote.
The Pembina Trails School Division, Seven Oaks School Division and River East - Transcona School Division told the Free Press they have enough staff.
Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.