Absences due to illness for both staff and students are trending downward at Calgary school boards.
Back in mid-January, during the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Calgary Board of Education was reporting student absences nearing eight per cent a day.
That number has since fallen by 50 per cent. But the CBE says four per cent is still high compared with pre-pandemic years.
“It is still notable that we have this level of attendance rate, but it also is reflective of the requirement and the continued importance of staying home when sick, even when, perhaps in past years, students may still have attended school,” said CBE superintendent of school improvement Joanne Pitman.
“But currently we’re seeing and really appreciate the fact that families continue to apply the daily health check list.”
Fewer staff absences going unfilled
School boards are also reporting an easier time filling staff absences. At Calgary Catholic schools, the average teacher fill rate last week was 96 per cent. The CBE’s fill rate is sitting around 88 per cent.
“It is an improvement over where we were in January and February,” said Pitman.
“What I would still comment on, though, is that in a non-pandemic year, we would see a higher rate of fill on all of those positions as well. So we’re we’re still challenged somewhat by some of those pieces.”
Both school boards say they no longer have any classes learning online due to absences, but neither plans to cut back the numbers on their substitute teacher rosters any time soon.
“Our substitutes support staff are critical to maintaining stability in an organization,” said Pitman, adding that some will be offered part-time contracts, and others will gain days of work as schools work to address previous learning disruptions.
“We’re trying to protect the sub roster. So wherever we can use existing people and expand the amount of time they spend in school, that’s what we’re going to try to do.”