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MVSD adds teaching positions

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Mountain View School Division is adding staff to help deal with education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Two teaching positions that we are filling to support schools that are having challenges getting substitute teachers, and there is a number of schools where it is a consistent challenge. So we are going to have two itinerant teachers,” MVSD superintendent/CEO Dan Ward said.
“And the board approved four additional teachers to support the division. We haven’t filled all of those positions yet.”
Ward said the first job is to get a handle on the extent of remote learning, which will be happening throughout the division this year, given the reality that some students will be unable to attend classes due to underlying health concerns, they, or a member of their family has.
“Schools across the division submitted requests from parents to have their children access remote learning due to an underlying health condition. We are still reviewing those, so we don’t have concrete numbers as of yet. Because with the request, if the underlying health condition is not known to the school then we would need a medical note. So we are in the process of reviewing those requests,” he said, adding there will undoubtedly be more requests as school gets going.
“There has been questions about children with underlying health conditions and members of the household with underlying health conditions that may result in a physician recommending that the child or young adult learn from home. As those needs become apparent we really want to support those students in a way that is going to provide them with the instruction that is going to lead to their success academically.”
The best way to do that, he added, is dedicate teachers to handle remote learning, freeing up classroom teachers to concentrate on students in the school.
“Now that doesn’t mean that when a child is away because maybe they have become symptomatic, or they are waiting for a COVID test, that they are going to be on long-term remote learning with this instructor,” Ward said.
They will still receive support from their classroom teacher because, of course, they would be expected to return in a fairly short period of time.”
As for the itinerant teachers, Ward said, while there has been some concern expressed about teachers travelling from school to school, the realities of public education in rural areas makes it difficult to have substitutes dedicated to one facility.
“At this time throughout the province there are no restrictions on itinerant staff. But we are mindful of the fact that we do want to ensure itinerant staff are working in buildings safely and where we have opportunities to reduce movement of staff between schools and classrooms, we do that,” he said.
“We have tried to reduce our footprint somewhat. So in situations where itinerant staff could be assigned to fewer places, we have done that. And when we had opportunities to redeploy staff we have kept that in mind.”
Stressing the fundamentals with itinerant staff is also important, Ward said, adding the division has communicated the importance of hand hygiene, social distancing and staying home and following self-screening instructions should they become symptomatic.
“And when they enter a building it is very important that they sign in so we know where itinerant staff are located,” he added.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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