School boards in Timmins warn classes could be cancelled due to a shortage of teachers

It's back to school Monday and officials with two school boards in the Timmins area say they're excited to welcome everyone, despite some changes that are store.

"Our schools were built and meant for kids to be in them and we’re so excited to have them back," said Tricia Weltz, director of education for Northeastern Catholic District School Board.

Changes include the fact kindergarten students will have to wear masks; before, that was optional. Proof of screening is also mandatory.

“Every student and staff ... must complete the screening tool and must show documentation, whether it’s a hard copy or an electronic copy of the screening," said Lesleigh Dye, director of education for District School Board Ontario North East.

The other possibility is, just like a snow day, families will have to watch for notice that a classroom is cancelled.

“I do want our families to know we may have to shift to a virtual day of learning if it’s not safe to open our school due to a lack of staff," said Dye.

"Please make sure your school has your updated contact information."

“Like every board in the Province of Ontario, we have a real shortage of replacement staff and so we’re trying to increase the number of staff available on our replacement lists, but so far our success with that has been limited," added Weltz.

One local mother said she is anxious about sending her 12-year-old son back to school.

“The government’s like hey great, let's send them to school, but now we’re just not going to tell you anything, which is my biggest concern," said Amy St. Amour, of Timmins.

"I’m sending him back with too many unknowns in how they’re going to keep us all safe."

Both school boards said they have received their shipments of masks and are ready to bring back students. They're asking for patience from families and they are reassuring them that with everyone working together, they've got this.