New Brunswick

Teachers wait to see the fine details of planning for the coming school year

A major shift in how students will return to school in September has many teachers expressing unease and frustration at how fast things are changing, said Rick Cuming, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association. 

NBTA says association not included in direct planning for students return to classrooms

Students will be returning to the classroom in September. The New Brunswick Teachers' Association said teachers are still waiting to hear the details of what to expect. (BlurryMe/Shutterstock)

A major shift in how students will return to school in September has many teachers expressing unease and frustration at how fast things are changing, said Rick Cuming, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association. 

With teachers trying to finish up a school year that was interrupted in mid-March because of COVID-19, prepare report cards, reconfigure schools, plan and hold graduation ceremonies, and access professional learning, many still don't know what things will be like on the first day back for students. 

"All of this is happening when details of September, really the fine tooth details, haven't been determined yet," said Cuming.

Education minister Dominic Cardy shared details of the department's plan June 12, which consists of smaller class sizes and staggered starts, and a modified bus plan.  

"So teachers are wondering how they are going to manage all of these tasks, attend to professional development and then learning this week they're going to be performing a telephone survey with the parents and families."

The survey will be used to help determine the bussing plan and operational plans for each school.

Cuming said teachers want to know how all of these things will be prioritized as the school year ends "cause they're overloaded."

Safety a priority

Rick Cuming, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association said the association has not been involved in the direct planning of students' return to school. (CBC)

"Most of all, teachers need to know their learners are going to be safe next year. They want to know their safety and those of their students are going to be maintained with these bubbles." 

Cuming understands the Department of Education has an almost insurmountable task to devise a plan that will work, but he says he had hoped the association would have been more directly involved in the planning and asked to share its expertise.  

"We understand that some teachers have been involved in providing input into sections that have informed this plan but as an association we've not been directly involved in the full development of the current framework." 

Cuming said the bussing plan will have a huge impact on school operations.

"It will impact the operational plan and the scheduling for the school." 

Staffing impacts

As well, Cuming said the redeployment of leads to the classrooms to accommodate the reduced class sizes in the primary grades is also going to have a big effect on operations. Leads are district-based subject area experts and usually travel between schools.

"That is going to have an impact on staffing in resources so as those details are revealed to the principals and the schools, they are going to have to then change their schedule and adapt their operational plans." 

Cuming said teachers faced barriers when trying to connect with some students while schools were closed.

A CBC News analysis found more than 1,300 students weren't reached by teachers and have not had any formal education since the pandemic closed schools in March

But Cuming said once teachers and students are back in the classrooms, the educational needs of the student will be assessed and a plan will be put in place.

"The health and welfare and educational needs are going to be the primary focus of the teachers when they next meet these students face to face." 

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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