The Red Deer Public Schools board meeting set for Wednesday afternoon has been postponed for two weeks as administration tackles looming staff shortages because of COVID-19.
“Looking at staff absences due to illness the first two days back after the extended Christmas Break, we are anticipating staffing shortages among teachers and other staff over the next few days as a result of the Omicron variant,” said superintendent Chad Erickson in a statement.
“Since returning to school, we have seen an increase in substitute teachers providing coverage, as well as a reduced number of substitute teachers prepared to cover classes given the current circumstances. Our desire is to have students learning at school. Our focus right now needs to be providing quality teaching and learning and making transitions where and as needed.”
Board chair Nicole Buchanan said the Omicron variant is spreading quickly and is creating staff challenges for many organizations, including the school district.
“Our staff continue to do outstanding work and we need to make sure we do what we need to do to keep students and staff well and safe. Our senior administration needs to be focused on responding to these challenges and making key decisions, thus the delay in the Board meeting.”
During the extended Christmas Break, teachers prepared for a variety of potential scenarios.
“Frankly this came sooner than we were hoping but admittedly, it was anticipated,” she said.
“We want students and teachers to be in our schools and classrooms—it’s where the best learning takes place. That is our priority, while keeping everyone healthy and well. While we want to continue as normal as possible, potential staffing challenges may cause classes and/or grades to shift to online learning.
“Parents and students need to be prepared for those possibilities, should they occur,” said Buchanan.