The letter, signed by the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association, the Vancouver Elementary and Adult Educators Society, two CUPE locals and the Union of Operating Engineers Local 953, warns of an “alarming” rise in cases where absent teachers aren’t being replaced.
“Adding to these severe staffing issues, an alarming increase in reported incidents of violence in the classroom have also deeply affected personnel this year.”
B.C.’s ongoing teacher shortage
According to the letter, teachers in Vancouver high schools have reported more than 400 cases where absent teachers’ slots were not filled since the start of this school year.
Between October and December, nearly 1,300 absences were not filled in elementary schools, including nearly 1,000 when resource teachers were pulled from work supporting vulnerable students to cover shifts, the letter states.
Get the latest National news.
Sent to your email, every day.
It goes on to suggest the numbers under-represent the scale of the problem, as the unfilled shifts were voluntarily reported to unions.
Meanwhile, the VSB has reported zero failures to fill shifts, the unions allege.
“The impact is significant not just on students but on our colleagues, who are finding their programs are suffering, that the curriculum implementation is suffering, but also they aren’t able to provide the supports they want to do,” said Jody Polukoshko, president of the Vancouver and Elementary and Adult Educators’ Society.
B.C. interior school district offers new teachers cash incentives
“Teachers care deeply about their students and they want them to do the best that they can.”
The Vancouver School Board says more than 500 staff have been hired since March 2023, including 329 teachers and 114 support staff.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation says the problem is much larger than Vancouver.
“This is an issue that has been existing for a long time across the province. It was pretty severe in what we call the rural and remote areas. It’s become much worse,” BCTF president Clint Johnston said.
“It’s in Vancouver now but it exists in every single district across the province.”
The letter comes as teachers prepare for another round of bargaining with the province.
Along with wages, recruitment and retention of teachers is expected to be a key point of the talks.
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.