No school closures across Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent after one week back in class
Officials from the four largest schools boards in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent say the return to in-person learning is going well.
“Far better than we had hoped,” says Scott Johnson, Director of Education for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board (SCCDSB).
No local schools were closed the week of Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, the first week back after the extended holiday break.
According to data on the ministry website, 16 of the 4,844 schools in Ontario were closed last week, representing 0.33 percent of all schools.
“We have been able to have a qualified teacher in every classroom every day this week,”says Scott Scantlebury, spokesperson for the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB).
“It was a quiet, normal week and we didn't have any staffing problems,” according to Steve Fields, with the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB). “All of our classes were covered and carried on as usual.”
“This week went better, from a staffing and student perspective, with respect to attendance than we had hoped, or on our side, prayed for,” says Johnson.
John Howitt, Director of Education for the Lambton-Kent District School Board (LKDSB) says 98 per cent of students who were already signed up for in-person learning returned to the classroom, with the remainder opting to learn remotely “while things settle”.
Howitt notes, their absenteeism levels are “concerning”: 12 per cent of the student body and 10 per cent of staff are home ill or screened to isolate.
He says they are keeping a close eye on data coming out of Western Canada.
“It seemed to be around seven to 10 days after reopening that the real staffing crisis hit,” says Howitt
“We’re hoping not to have that scenario repeated but are being responsible to reflect on the data and ensure our contingency plans are still in place.”
Johnson says principals meet twice daily, in the morning and afternoon, to assess absenteeism and determine what measures have to be taken.
“We have not had to utilize emergency staffing such as adult supervisors, library technicians or principals to cover classes which were part of our contingency plan,” says Johnson.
The province has stipulated that boards must inform their local health units, if staff and student absenteeism, for any reason, rises above 30 per cent.
As of this morning, the province is releasing the data on each schools' absenteeism from the week before.
According to this data, six schools across Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent have an absenteeism rate greater than 30 per cent.
CTV News has reached out to officials with the Greater Essex County District School Board and the Lambton Kent District School Board to find out what actions, if any, were taken as a result.
More details to come.
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