With the first day of school less than two weeks away, K-12 schools across the province still have vacant teaching positions.
Some schools, like Jens Haven Memorial School in Nain, are making their pitch to prospective teachers through social media. Vice-principal Juanita Skanes said Thursday the school is still looking to fill four vacant positions and will soon have to make contingency plans.
"Right now it's still up in the air. We were hoping today that we'd be in a better position," she said.
As of Thursday, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District was advertising 19 permanent positions, 15 of them in Labrador. The district is also hiring more than 100 teacher replacement positions, many of them in the Avalon region.
Some of those job postings close on Friday, but that doesn't mean they've been filled. Skanes said if a position at Jens Haven Memorial School doesn't receive applicants, it will reappear on the job board.
On Wednesday, Skanes said the school had 12 vacant positions this year — an unusually high number. Skanes said she isn't sure why the school had such a high turnover this year.
"I don't think that they left because of any particular issue in the community or at the school. Most people left to pursue careers, to find positions closer to their hometown, to their family, to their spouse, whatever," she said.
Teacher shortage no worse than previous years: NLESD
As of Thursday, Jens Haven Memorial School had filled eight positions and was interviewing for a ninth, which will leave three remaining vacancies.
School district CEO Tony Stack said the province's teacher shortage isn't any worse than in other years, but filling teaching positions in rural and remote areas can be difficult. Stack said he couldn't give an exact number of teacher vacancies because they are constantly in flux based on ongoing job competitions.
"It's normal at this time of year for some of those to still not be filled. But our staff are diligently working away to ensure that when early September comes and the first day of school arrives, our classrooms will be staffed," he said.
Jens Haven Memorial School also posted the vacant positions on Facebook and Twitter to drum up interest. Education Minister John Haggie said he doesn't have a problem with schools advertising vacant positions on social media.
"I regard that as a very positive sign," he said.
Haggie said the Department of Education would also support the Nunatsiavut government, which provides Inuit cultural programming in schools, taking a larger role in secondary education.
Haggie said teacher recruitment is still the responsibility of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District for this year, but it will eventually be the responsibility of the Department of Education once the district is dissolved.
"I think we need to look carefully at how we recruit and retain teachers just as we're having a challenge with pretty well every kind of professional," he said.