The Thames Valley District School Board is looking to hire dozens of emergency supply staff at several of its elementary schools, and is opening up the application process to third and fourth-year university students to do it.
Twenty-one elementary schools in London, Elgin County, and Oxford County will each see five emergency supply staff hired to fill last-minute staffing assignments.
The TVDSB describes emergency supply staff as being people who have “expressed an interest in working with students and present with an educational and/or work background that supports their use for coverage purposes in emergency situations.”
The schools selected have experienced challenges getting additional staff to come in for last-minute assignments, said Riley Culhane, associate director of education at the TVDSB.
“Up until now we have been utilizing year one and year two teacher college candidates when they’re not in school, and they have been filling in for us for the last-minute assignments,” he said.
“What we’ve decided to do, because we continue to have some vacancies in some of our schools, is open up this opportunity to year three and year four university students that have some experience working with children in the community.”
The request for resumes comes as the province grapples with an early influenza season, and high rates of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in children, which has slammed Ontario’s pediatric hospitals. In addition, COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community.
On Wednesday, London Health Sciences Centre reported wait times of 20-plus hours for non-urgent matters at its adult emergency departments, a day after the emergency department at Children’s Hospital reported wait times of six or more hours for non-urgent matters.
Culhane says many Ontario school boards utilize temporary supply teachers, recognizing that all sectors throughout the province are experiencing staffing challenges.
“Throughout the province, certainly in the education sector, all boards are experiencing challenges, recruiting and hiring additional staff. In Thames Valley, we are experiencing some of those same challenges. We’re also experiencing significant growth in the area,” he said.
Emergency supply staff do not have to be registered with the Ontario College of Teachers, according to the TVDSB. Those chosen will need to provide proof of school enrolment and a current satisfactory criminal record check with the vulnerable sector.
Board officials say their ideal candidate has a four-year university degree, or is enrolled in university as a third or fourth year Masters or PhD student, who has a minimum of six months experience working with children.
In addition, the board says they should possess a “proven ability and willingness to support students with special needs,” as well as an “ability to maintain confidentiality and professionalism in a school environment.”
Also, important: they should be able to “accept assignments on a casual basis during the day and with short notice.”
“Obviously, we work with all the staff, provide training with all the staff that are coming into our schools to make sure that they are well-supported and are able to take on these assignments, and gain valuable experiences working with children,” Culhane said.
A list of elementary schools with links and instructions on how to apply can be found on the TVDSB website.