The North East School Division (NESD) is budgeting $440,000 to start hiring 9.5 full-time contract caretaker positions for the 2021-22 school year.
These are the same extra contract positions hired during the 2020-21 school year to handle increased sanitation demands amidst the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has required enhanced cleaning and disinfecting at the schools,” said Wanda McLeod, the NESD’s superintendent of business administration wrote to the board.
“Typically, the best time to clean/disinfect a school is when there are no staff and students in the schools. As a result, prior to the pandemic, the smaller schools have had split shifts so that most of the cleaning/disinfecting is completed before and after school.”
As part of provincial guidelines, if a student becomes sick at school the school is required to give a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of any areas the student may have been in contract with.
The pre-pandemic shifts resulted in caretakers not being on shift from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and as a result were insufficient for provincial guidelines. To combat this, in August, NESD administration requested additional caretaking staff for the 2020-21 school year.
For the year, the board approved the use of up to $420,000 to fill the staffing need with 9.5 full-time equivalent positions. While it was originally set to be paid by unrestricted accumulated surplus, the costs were funded through the Safe School Plan/Contingency Funding which gave the division $797,000 for pandemic related spending.
While administration could have waited for the school board’s annual budget in June to request funding for the 2021-22 year, McLeod said administration wanted to start the hiring process in May.
Funding for the 2021-22 year will come from pandemic support funding externally restricted accumulated surplus.
Interested individuals can apply for the positions once the posting is available on the NESD website at nesd.ca/careers/.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal