KAMLOOPS — School can be difficult for students with physical or intellectual disabilities.
In order to help them get the best education possible, certified education assistants are on hand to act as the bridge between teachers and students, helping ensure they understand class material to the best of their ability.
This year, there are more kids than usual requiring extra support and that's why the school board recently voted in favour of adding more of these positions within the district.
The need for more certified education assistants in the classrooms caught School District 73 officials off guard.
"We've had about 30 students with special needs that have been identified or moved into our district," said Alison Sidow, superintendent for School District 73. "What surprised us is we have a number of kindergarten students this year who through our transition planning were identified as requiring additional support."
The district is hiring 12 more certified education assistants to help students with various physical and intellectual needs.
"In some cases we have students with physical handicaps or who are physically dependant who need help with all of their care needs including eating," said Sidow. "We tend to have a higher than average provincial rate of students with autism, and that's because we have great services like the Chis Rose Therapy Centre and really skilled staff to support the students."
Sidow says increased enrolment throughout the district is what's led to more students needing CEA's.
Along with providing more one-on-one care, CUPE officials say the added positions will help begin to ease support staff's workload.
"It's a really good start, i think it's a move in the right direction," said Nicole Edmondson, Acting President for CUPE Local 3500.
Edmondson, who is a CEA herself, says the rise in student numbers, coupled with the return to 2002 class size and composition, has district support staff concerned.
"I'm getting a lot of calls about CEA's that are stressed out and worried about how they'll be able to give their attention to one student when they're required to be with several students," said Edmondson. "Part of our job is we're also required to do supervision of every student in the school out on the playground."
School enrolments are expected to increase and Edmondson says CUPE will advocate for more CEA positions.
The current positions are expected to be filled immediately.
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