‘These decisions are not being made lightly’: Manitoba school divisions announce temporary layoffs

By | April 17, 2020

WINNIPEG — As the school year remains indefinitely suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two Manitoba school division have announced temporary staff layoffs

Pembina Trails School Division and Interlake School Division both announced on Friday that it will have to temporarily reduce its workforce because of COVID-19.

Pembina Trails said it is following the directive from the province to decrease spending and to support critical services.

“With no students in our classrooms and on our buses, we are moving forward with temporary layoffs of valued employees such as educational assistants, bus drivers, library technicians, and lunch supervisors,” a spokesperson said in an email to CTV News.

The layoffs include 472 educational assistants, 24 bus drivers, 32 library technicians, around 370 breakfast and lunch program supervisors, crossing guards and bus duty and 36 staff who are part of programs such as the walking school bus, Lighthouse and Kindergarten Here We Come.

The school division did note that some of these positions overlap and are done by the same person, saying “for example an educational assistant may also work as a lunch monitor.”

“These staff members have dedicated their time and energy to the daily operation and success of our division. We value their work, and look forward to welcoming everyone back when our students return.”

Interlake School Division did not provide total numbers of staff laid off, but confirmed layoffs of bus drivers and educational assistants.

In a statement, Alan Campbell, chair of the division’s board of trustees, said the decision was difficult for the division.

“I know I speak for all school boards when I say that these decisions are not being made lightly, and that the well-being of our students, employees and communities remain at the forefront of all consideration,” Campbell wrote. “We are all impacted by COVID-19 and these are not easy times for any member of our school communities.”

Campbell added, “At this point, all planning is based on a resumption of regular classroom learning in September of 2020, subject of course to ongoing direction from Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer,” Campbell wrote. “We value the work of our support staff and the important difference they make in all school divisions. We fully expect that when schools are allowed to reopen and students are back in their classrooms, that we will be able to provide them with quality services and supports from all staff, just as they are currently receiving from their teachers during this pandemic.”

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg School Division told CTV News they had not laid off staff.

With files from CTV’s Jeremie Charron and Charles Lefebvre

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