Concerns regarding the teacher shortage were brought to the attention of the SD57 board at last night’s (Tuesday) board meeting.

“Teachers are putting aside their own needs so they can meet the needs of the students assigned to them,” explained  Prince George District Teacher’s Association (PGDTA) President, Joanne Hapke.

She explained many teachers in the district have had to go to work despite being sick because there are not enough teachers available to replace them.

There has been a teacher shortage for many years, and according to Hapke support teachers are being taken out of their jobs and placed into classrooms.

“No one is replacing these support teachers, in January this year we have recorded 272 hours of lost service to students due to this redeployment,” Hapke explained.

So far, 116 hours of lost services to students with special requirements have been recorded in 2021.

This means that students with Support Plans, Individual Education Plans and Behavior Plans are often unable to receive help from designated support workers due to the shortage.

According to Hapke, many SD57 teachers are already struggling with maintaining a sense of normalcy in their classrooms due to the pandemic and the shortage continues to add stress.

Hapke urged trustees to consider allocating more funding to address the teacher shortage when deliberating next year’s budget.

“With the appointment of special advisors to the district by the Minister of Education, the trustees are in a unique position of reflecting on current practices and possibly creating new practices,” she noted.

Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives at BCIT, Kory Wilson and Catherine McGregor, Associate Dean at the University of Victoria will be reviewing the governance practices of SD57 until June 1st 2021.

“In my 31-year career, I’ve never been as concerned about teachers as I am now,” stated Hapke.