Armstrong Elementary School to close Friday and Monday due to staff shortage

Teachers refuse to work

Armstrong Elementary School will be closed Friday and Monday due to a staffing shortage.

A letter from School District 83 Supt. Donna Kriger posted to the school website Jan. 13 says the school will be “functionally closed due to the shortage of staff and the district’s inability to cover staff shortages to provide the required level of instruction, safety and supervision of our students.”

The notice does not say the closure is caused by teachers' refusing to work.

However, the BC Teachers Federation has confirmed four teachers have refused to work, filing an unsafe work claim through WorkSafe BC due to low compliance with mask-wearing despite public health orders.

North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers Association president Graham Gomme was reluctant to comment on the situation, but did say teachers are feeling unsafe due to the number of students who have mask exemptions.

“We are working with WorkSafe BC to see if that school is a safe place to work because of the number of exemptions that are at the school,” said Gomme.

“The principal is working hard, the teachers are working hard, and I know the parents have their own concerns about the issues out there.”

In a Jan. 7 letter, Kriger said: “In accordance with the advice and direction from the provincial health officer, masks remain an integral part of the safety protocol for COVID-19.”

The district also has plans to provide more protection for staff.

In a Jan. 3 letter, Kriger said the district “will be working to procure a limited supply of N95 masks for staff."

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