As November ends, the Hanover School Division is reporting an increase in the number of staff and students absent due to illness.
“Typically, November is a bit of a heavier season for school divisions right as we enter the colder weather and see the flu viruses and whatnot, sort of take hold,” says Superintendent Shelley Amos.
While the division is not able to provide specific numbers, Amos says it is noticeable.
“It's hard to put hard and fast numbers to it because it changes every day, it changes in every school and community, it changes with the different grade levels in our schools,” she explains. “And so, there's not really a number of an average that I can give you that makes any sense because there's always contextual information behind that those numbers.”
Amos reports that most of the students who were absent due to illness were in the younger grades, but she adds that there are students in all grades who have stayed home because of sickness.
“I would say that it's fluctuated anywhere from a 9% absenteeism rate, which would be pretty standard you know in any year in November, but up to as high as 25% on any certain date,” says Amos. we don't know necessarily if that's the RSV that's going around or if it's a flu or if there's still some COVID, because there's not really a self-reporting requirement.”
Employees are also impacted by illness. Amos says they are experiencing a higher rate of absenteeism with staff as well.
“For sake of transparency, I have to say it is challenging right now in our schools and I feel for that,” she says. “There are last minute arrangements every day, we're tapping every substitute teacher that we have on our list. And of course, there's been some days where we don't have enough people, just like other divisions in Manitoba, and the substitute staff gets sick as well.”
While this has been a difficult month with so much sickness going around, Amos is optimistic that December will be a healthier month.
“I'm hopeful that maybe this is a bit of a peak right now,” she says. “November was a busy month in schools with report cards and student led conferences, and November always tends to be a heavier month in the school system. So, we're almost at the end of it and then December brings some more joy in terms of band concerts and winter concerts and of those pieces. So, those are still slated to take place and we certainly hope that brings joy back to people through this heavy time.”