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Calgary faces unexplainable teacher shortages following vaccine mandate

Thomas Lambert

May 2, 2022

The Calgary Board of Education confirmed that multiple schools face teacher shortages, with increased student and staff absences and several substitute teachers apparently uninterested in dealing with it.

“The situation experienced at Colonel Irvine school is not necessarily reflective of all schools across the system; however, over the month of April, we have seen an increase in both student and staff absences, though this is presented differently across schools and for different reasons,” Calgary Board of Education (CBE) said in a statement to Postmedia.

“… Hiring of teachers has continued throughout the year, with over 500 hired since November. In recent weeks, the CBE has on-boarded more than 250 new substitute teachers and will continue hiring throughout the spring and summer months.”

This news comes months after the CBE instituted an organization-wide vaccine mandate, giving all employees, volunteers, and partners until the Christmas holidays to take the mandatory jab or be put on unpaid leave indefinitely.

Following the vaccine mandate, the CBE reported 681 vacant teaching positions (208 of which were still unfilled when classes began) when students returned on January 10.

Now, the CBE says they need to fill 928 substitute teaching or casual employee jobs.

According to Bob Cocking, president of Calgary Public Teachers with the Alberta Teacher’s Association, “We get calls from teachers that say, you know, how long do we have to sustain this? It’s okay to cover a class once in a while, but it’s getting to the point where daily there’s a request for so many substitutes, and there’s always a couple jobs that don’t get filled.”

“You can do internal coverage. But how long can you sustain that? In some cases, it’s never-ending for some schools.”

Cocking continues, saying that he’s “baffled” that he has “plenty of substitutes on the roster” but that they’re uninterested in picking up part-time jobs when there are many full-time openings.

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