Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced that three non-instructional days taken from teachers at the beginning of the school year will be re-added to the 2020-21 school calendar.
“We have been calling on the province to credit school divisions with the three non-instructional days that were taken on September 2-4 for some time now,” said MTS president James Bedford. “We are pleased that these days have been returned to teachers. Collaborative planning time is crucial as teachers coordinate new learning and delivery formats as well as deal with a number of issues related to teaching in a COVID-19 reality.”
Two of these days will be scheduled before Christmas and one in the second semester. Divisions will incorporate these days into their calendars where it fits best.
Bedford said that while teachers are happy to have their collaborative planning time back, today’s announcement does nothing to address teacher workload.
“Teachers are still being asked to do two jobs at once. They are teaching online and in the classroom at the same time,” said Bedford. “A French-immersion teacher told me that they are moving between seven classrooms. Teacher workload is unreasonable and unsustainable.”
The province will be using $10 million, from the federal government’s Safe Return to Class Fund, to establish a provincial remote learning support centre.
Bedford said that The Society has been consulting with government on a blended-learning model and submitted a proposal that addressed students’ remote learning needs in a way that does not add to teacher workload.
“Our position has always been that in-person learning and remote learning should be separately staffed by certified teachers,” said Bedford. “It is disappointing that our recommendations are not reflected in the province’s remote learning plan.”
The Department of Education has requested a meeting with MTS to discuss the details of this announcement.