Saskatchewan

Staffing to be adjusted in some Regina schools as online teacher-to-student ratio hits 1 to 67: trustee

Teachers in schools around Regina are being shuffled due to significant demand for online learning, according to Regina Public School Board trustee Adam Hicks. 

Significant demand for online learning leads to staffing shuffle at 22 schools

Education Minister Gordon Wyant said children are safe in their classrooms and getting the education they deserve. (Matt Howard/CBC)

Teachers in some Regina schools are being shuffled due to significant demand for online learning, according to Regina Public School Board trustee Adam Hicks. 

Hicks posted a Facebook video Thursday evening talking about the changes, saying they will start to come into effect on Monday.

In the video post, Hicks said 2,200 students have registered for e-learning, with 33 teachers assigned to online teaching — a ratio of 67 students for every teacher.

"With 2,200 students in e-learning, our allocations of staff were, unfortunately, not enough," Hicks said in the video.

Just over 25 staff from 22 schools will be reassigned to accommodate e-learning — a move made necessary by budget constraints, he said.

"We hired as many new teachers as we possibly could [for online teaching], but when it came down to it, we don't have additional funding to hire all the rest."

Education Minister Gord Wyant said Public Health was involved in the decision, and that the safety of staff and students is the top priority in this shuffle.

The Opposition NDP says the staff shuffle shows a failing in the Saskatchewan Party government's back-to-school plan, but Wyant defended his government's overall pandemic response as "exceptional."

"I think that the response that the government has made ... has been sufficient to support children and teachers in the classroom," Wyant said. "I discount the criticism we've received for that."

Children are safe in classrooms and getting the education they deserve, he said.

Earlier this month, Wyant and his ministry announced $51 million for school divisions as a first round of government money to deal with additional costs associated with schooling in a pandemic. Of that, $9.5 million is allocated to address additional distance-learning capacity, including funding 102 teachers and staff.

Hicks said in his video that the Regina Public School Board's projections for the number of students attending classes in school were off. Fewer children are in school than they had originally thought, which means that funding — which is based on in-school enrolment — will be less than anticipated.

Wyant said he expects more students will return to in-class learning as the school year goes on.

But NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the government should ensure that funding remains consistent. 

"They're still having to provide that teaching to people online but they are basically not ... sure that they'll be able to fund the number of teachers they have in place," Meili said.

"We should absolutely have a commitment from this government that no money will be pulled back because of enrolment changes."

About the Author

Emily Pasiuk

Reporter/Associate Producer

Emily Pasiuk is a Regina-based reporter for CBC Saskatchewan and an associate producer for The Morning Edition. She has filmed two documentaries, reported at CTV Saskatoon and written for Global Regina. Reach her at emily.pasiuk@cbc.ca.

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