The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association says teachers across the province are feeling close to burning out, not even three months into the current school year.
At a news conference Monday, Trent Langdon said there's a desperate need for more teaching assistants, more resources and smaller classes.
"The pressure at teaching in this atmosphere, compounded by the added demands of teaching on the front lines during a global pandemic, has understandably placed increased stress on our members," he said.
"Something needs to change now. Our class size issue has been an issue for many years. It's not just the numbers in the class; it's the class composition."
Langdon said guidance counsellors and school administrators are being forced to take on duties generally assigned to student assistants.
"This reduces the time they have to devote to their critical and core professional roles, including student mental health supports, instructional leadership and special services instructional supports for students who require them," he said.
The NLTA is waiting for more information from the independent review of the provincial teacher allocation model, said Langdon said, and the union is calling on Education Minister Tom Osborne and the provincial government to provide additional resources to address class sizes and allow more student assistant time in the province's schools.
While an immediate solution would be an increase in the number of student assistants, said Langdon, the long-term fix is a full teacher allocation review with tangible results that can lead to valuable changes.
Working with NLESD: Osborne
Osborne said the last two years have been strenuous under the COVID-19 pandemic and the teacher allocation model does need to be looked at.
"It is going through the formal process to put in place a committee to review the teacher allocation model," Osborne said.
"But we have to keep in mind that over the last three years we have added 350 permanent full-time positions in education. Over that same period of time the student population declined."
The "vast majority" of those 350 positions are filled, he said.
Osborne said his department is working with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District to identify immediate problems.
He said the review will determine whether there is a need for additional resources in schools.