School boards prep for return to class


By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As the highly transmissible wave of COVID-19 omicron sweeps through, the Lambton Kent District School Board is prepping for possible staff shortages.

At a municipal press conference last week, public school board director John Howitt said administrators have been doing some planning around the potential staffing shortages if its supply of occasional and temporary staff is exhausted.

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases could require more employees to isolate, which could lead to short-term closures for schools, Howitt said.

“There is a risk that we may be short staffed,” Howitt explained.

But as for PPE and air filtration, both the public school board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board have it covered.

Howitt said HEPA filters are already in every instructional space within the district, however, the board is receiving an additional 31 filters to cover off any spots that may have been missed.

Both school boards were slated to receive additional PPE from the province, including N95 masks for all teachers.

SCCDSB director Scott Johnson said every classroom in the Catholic board is equipped with HEPA filters.

In the wake of the omicron wave, the Ontario government delayed the return of students to the classroom until Jan. 17, opting instead for online learning.

Johnson said he hoped the extra two weeks will provide additional time for teachers to get a booster shot and for students to get vaccinated.

The province is anticipated to be making an announcement Wednesday afternoon with an update on return-to-classroom education.


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