Posted on Apr 21, 2021
NDP CALLS ON JASON KENNEY TO USE COVID CONTINGENCY FUND TO HIRE GRADUATING TEACHERS TO STAFF UP AND SPREAD OUT SCHOOLS
EDMONTON – As Edmonton public and Catholic school board send grade seven through twelve students to online learning for two weeks, the NDP are calling on Jason Kenney and the UCP to use the COVID contingency fund outlined in Budget 2021 to hire graduating teachers from post-secondary to staff up and spread out schools to prevent further closures.
“The Government has a contingency fund to be used in COVID-19 emergencies. This is an emergency. This UCP needs to step up and support our students,” said NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman. “We are seeing massive staffing shortages in schools across Alberta as they grapple with the pandemic’s third wave. These shortages are the primary reason that 160,000 students in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray and Sherwood Park are currently learning from home.”
On average, Alberta sees 2,000 graduates from their teaching programs every year. These graduates are able to obtain their teaching certificates quickly with a letter of intent to hire from a school board.
Emily Motoska, who is currently doing her teaching practicum in Spruce Grove said she and her peers would be more than happy to be hired on to help with staffing shortages being experienced right here in Edmonton.
“It’s a really good idea,” she said. “There are so many of us willing to help and it’s good experience. I wouldn’t be ready to take on my own classroom but others in my program who have completed their nine week practicum would be able to obtain their teaching certificate.
“Having more of us ready to go into classrooms and gain good experience is something that should be looked at. We get the experience and we could help keep classrooms open.”
Sofia Calderon, a Grade 12 student from Ross Shepherd High School, worries that the inconsistencies in the learning environment can cause issues for her and her classmates' progress in class.
“Online learning isn’t sustainable. Being with a teacher, in person, helps keep you engaged,” said Calderon. “Working in the same environment, like your bedroom, where you sleep and play video games doesn’t help your physical or mental health. When I went back to in-person learning after Christmas, I automatically felt more engaged.”
The Alberta NDP have previously called on the UCP to set up a Learn From Home Fund that would cost the province roughly $73 million to ensure students and families had support when students did have to isolate.
“Many [students] don’t have the technologies, supplies and supports to properly meet their educational needs,” said Hoffman. “What about those students? The Government does nothing. I am seriously hoping the Minister and the Premier pull their heads out of the clouds and realize the very real harm being caused to student learning.”
The Safe Schools Successful Students proposal from the NDP was presented to the Government in July 2020, and included addendums in November 2020 as the province entered the second wave of the pandemic. To date, the UCP have adopted none of the recommendations in the proposal.