TVDSB board of trustees convenes particular assembly as employees absenteeism will increase – London


An increase in staff absences at the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) has prompted the Board of Trustees to schedule a special meeting with local health officials.

In a statement to Global News, TVDSB Assistant Director Jeff Pratt says the increase in absenteeism “is due to staff illness”.

“TVDSB administrators are implementing all available strategies, including redeploying staff, but there have been hundreds of vacancies multiple times this week,” Pratt said.

“The health and safety of our staff and students remains our priority and we are doing everything we can to keep the school safe for in-person learning.”

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While the increase in absenteeism is linked to illness, current restrictions related to PCR testing in Ontario do not allow the TVDSB to accurately track whether these illnesses are related to COVID-19.

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Craig Smith, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Thames Valley Teacher Local in Ontario, believes there is a link between the increase in absenteeism and the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols in schools, which included lifting mask requirements.

Smith says reallocating staff to make up for absences can put a strain on teachers.

“We have teachers who not only focus their energies on their own classrooms and the instructional program to help students learn, but we may now be pulled into other instructional settings and our program is not being delivered,” Smith said.

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“The work we’re there for is so disrupted in a lot of locations and we have five, 10, 15 kids gone every day and then it could be us.”

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The local union leader wants the TVDSB to review its protocols related to staff absences and COVID-19, including a possible return to mask mandates.

“If the intent is to keep schools open that children can attend regularly with the reasonable expectation that they and their teachers will be there healthy and safe, then I think that’s a simple matter to revisit got to. added Smith.

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Trustees chair Lori-Ann Pizzolato said she and her fellow trustees learned of the increase in staff absences at a meeting with the TVDSB on Tuesday, a trend she described as “unsustainable” in a tweet published on Thursday. designated.

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“Trustee (Corrine) Rahman suggested that we hold a special board meeting with public health entities to get a general understanding of the local context and provide additional guidance,” Pizzolato said.

Pizzolato says the special board meeting will include updates from health officers at Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) and Southwestern Public Health (SWPH).

“This affects all trustees, we are concerned. We know the best place for children is in schools and this is a challenging time for families and staff, but I know TVDSB is doing its best to keep schools open,” Pizzolato added.

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Regarding masking, the Board of Trustees’ most recent message on the matter was to strongly encourage mask-wearing, a step in line with what the TVDSB and MLHU had proposed when the mandates were lifted.

Pizzolato says she wants to hear the upcoming update from the MLHU and SWPH before considering what to do next, adding that the challenges TVDSB is facing are shared by other school boards in the province.

The special meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for April 12 at 7:00 p.m. and will be streamed live to the public.

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