Skip to content

More kids out of school sick, but not cause for alarm yet: FFSD

More people are out of school sick within the Flin Flon School Division (FFSD), but the division says it is not time to panic.
Stock image of a child in a classroom sneezing. Gesundheit.

More people are out of school sick within the Flin Flon School Division (FFSD), but the division says it is not time to panic.

Absenteeism rates due to various illnesses have been higher within the FFSD this year than in many years past, but the division has not yet passed the barrier of 10 per cent of people missing from class. To meet the province’s criteria for when public health must be notified, 10 per cent of the school division’s students, staff, teachers or other personnel must be out due to illness.

“We haven't had to report that we've had 10 per cent absences as of yet,” said FFSD superintendent Tammy Ballantyne during the board’s Nov. 22 meeting.

“I would say we’ve been close some days. There’s probably been an overall increase in absences due to illness… it’s been up and down. I think our highest has been eight per cent so far.”

If Flin Flon schools hit that 10 per cent barrier, a public health investigation would take place into how whichever illness caused the absences spread and how to mitigate further spread, with the FFSD following public health guidance.

“We have to let public health know if we’re over 10 per cent absences and they would then do an investigation as to what happened,” said Ballantyne.

“We would get in contact with them and we would take their direction.”

Earlier this fall, Doctors Manitoba and several other medical organizations warned of three possible infections that could affect kids and people in schools this fall - the standard seasonal flu, an upswing in infections of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the coronavirus and ongoing spread of COVID-19. Several jurisdictions across Canada, including in Manitoba and in Winnipeg, have reported high levels of staff and/or student absences due to illness this year.

“It’s been the same thing here with the triple viruses going around - the flu, you’ve got RSV, you’ve got COVID-19, it’s just a lot,” said board chair Leslie Fernandes.

Ballantyne said that the division also had a shallower pool of possible substitute teachers than it may need, asking people with backgrounds in education to get on the FFSD’s sub list in case they are needed.

“There are staff shortages as well, so if there’s people out there who would like to put their name in the sub list, please contact us,” she said.

“Ideally, they would have some experience with education in their background. We’re also looking for EA subs - everybody would have to pass a criminal record check and a child abuse registry check of course, but anybody interested in working with children is an asset.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks