Manitoba

Brandon School Division lays off 245 workers as COVID-19 halts in-class instruction

The Brandon School Division says it is laying off 245 staff members because the division cannot "sustain meaningful work" for support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Educational assistants, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians affected by Brandon School Division decision

The Brandon School Division announced it is laying off support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC)

The Brandon School Division says it is laying off 245 staff members because the division cannot "sustain meaningful work" for support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Educational assistants, custodians, bus operators and secretaries are affected by the layoffs, which were made public in a media release from the division on Monday.

School divisions have been scrambling to deliver the curriculum to students and keep the system going since Manitoba Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced in late March classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students are suspended indefinitely until the end of the school year.

In the release, division officials said they called several of the affected employees and discussed reassignment options before the layoff notices were sent out.

Those affected include 156 educational assistants, 46 custodial assistants, 38 bus drivers and two secretaries.

The division employs more than 1,200 teaching and support staff, according to its website. It is unclear if all of the affected workers fall under those two categories, and whether they were in fact temporary or permanent staff in full-time or part-time positions.

Officials said in the release that they worked with the local union in its decision.

"We value the contribution of our support staff and look forward to resuming our relationships in a post COVID-19 operation," reads the release.

A spokesperson for the school division did not respond to interview requests late Monday.

In an statement, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 737, which represents support staff in the Brandon School Division, said the union will "fight for full employment" and to "minimize the impact" on its members.

"I don't believe that cutting jobs is a path to economic recovery," Jamie Rose said in an email.

The school division said all students will be expected to continue learning and complete assignments, despite the suspension of in-class instruction.

Those that do not, will have future learning recovery requirements in September, the division previously said. 

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