Staff shortage forces Ottawa-Carleton board to close 11 elementary classrooms

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“We will do our best to keep classes open, but if we cannot operate safely, a class may need to be asynchronous (remote learning) until we can organize appropriate coverage,” said said the spokesperson.

“If this happens, we will do our best to notify the parents the evening before. We encourage parents to have contingency plans in place and monitor their email for updates from their school.

Before an in-person class closes, the board is trying to determine if the homeroom teacher can support the class remotely or if other teachers or teaching assistants could be reassigned and another class could be moved to learning from a distance.

Other measures have also been put in place, including the rapprochement with retired staff and the maintenance of a permanent substitute teacher in elementary schools.

The Ottawa-Carleton School Board also offers a voluntary COVID-19 reporting dashboard that allows students or staff members to provide information on cases submitted by parents and staff. On Friday, the voluntary dashboard reported 63 cases of active students in elementary schools and six cases of active staff. There were 15 active cases in secondary schools and two active staff cases.

Ontario reported there were no closures among its 4,844 schools on Friday, but some schools reported up to 70% of students and staff were absent.

A spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board said she was not aware of any class closures on Friday.

The Catholic board no longer keeps data on COVID-19 cases since schools have been ordered to stop reporting these numbers and it only reports absenteeism rates, but it continues to notify parents if there are cases of COVID-19 in their children’s classrooms if the school is aware of the rapid antigen test confirmation.

“It is optional for staff and parents (or students) to notify the school of a confirmed case. However, not all school absences are COVID-related,” the spokesperson said.

“There also appears to be a gastrointestinal virus circulating in some Ottawa schools and other illnesses.”

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