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4th-year university students in Saskatchewan called upon to substitute teach

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WATCH: The board that certifies Saskatchewan teachers is granting temporary permits to fourth-year university students to help relieve some of the staffing challenges in schools. – Dec 16, 2020

Fourth-year education students in Saskatchewan nearing the end of their university program internships might be back in front of a class sooner than expected.

The Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board (SPTRB) is granting temporary permits to students who’ve completed their internship to help relieve some of the staffing challenges in schools brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Regina Public Schools moves to remote learning as COVID-19 cases spike

It would get them on a school division’s substitute list from January to June of next year while still finishing the final semester of their degree.

“We were contacted by a number of school divisions in the province. They indicated they were having trouble recruiting substitute teachers,” said Trevor Smith, SPTRB’s chief operating officer and registrar.

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“We don’t just issue temporary teaching permits to anyone who wishes to have one, it’s based on the demand needs of the province’s school divisions.”

Read more: List of COVID-19 school exposures and outbreaks in Saskatchewan

Since mid-November, the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) said it’s been short about eight substitutes a day.

It’s part of the reason the division moved most of its classrooms online for the next couple of weeks.

“We need to have the right amount of people in our schools to, first of all, keep kids safe, but also to continue to deliver a quality education,” said Twylla West, RCSD spokesperson.

“I don’t know of any other time that we have literally been short of subs.”

Smith said there are roughly 300 fewer substitutes registered this year compared to a year ago.

That combined with the extended sick leave for teachers in isolation and some subs opting out of work, Smith said it’s created the perfect storm.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreaks declared at 3 Regina schools

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He said rural divisions tend to struggle the most when attracting subs.

“If you think about it, it’s not guaranteed continuous work, particularly in a small community it might be very intermittent,” Smith said.

“It’s just not worth a person’s while to move to a remote community for the sole purpose of substitute teaching.”

Smith said temporary teacher permits aren’t new, but typically aren’t offered to fourth-year university students.

SPTRB expects about 100 requests for these permits.

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