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As cold and flu season approaches, 18 Greater Victoria elementary schools don't have a full-time custodian


Kids are back at school, bringing germs into the classroom with them — and teachers in Greater Victoria worry there's a lack of custodians to keep their schools properly clean.

“It’s really concerning for teachers when their classrooms need to be cleaned and there’s nobody there -- and not just classrooms but the bathrooms,” said Ilda Turcotte, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

She said a lack of custodians last year led to instances of vomit not getting cleaned up for hours at schools. “Things sat for most of the day, until somebody could come and clean,” said Turcotte on Thursday.

Turcotte also said with cold and flu season right around the corner, along with COVID cases rising, a lack of cleaning staff for desks and other surfaces is a concern.

After pressure last year -- the Greater Victoria School District hired five additional custodians for this year.

The district is still at least nine custodians short of what they had a couple years ago, when all schools in Greater Victoria had a full-time custodian during the day.

SD 61 confirms that it has 18 schools -- all smaller elementary schools, including James Bay School — that don’t have a full-time custodian during the day.

Declining funding has meant there are three fewer custodians in the district now than there were five years ago, and 12 less than there were in 2010 — even though there are more students and more spaces to clean at the schools.

In a statement to CTV News, B.C.’s education minister, Rachna Singh, attributed the shortage of custodians to the ongoing labour shortage, telling CTV "a tight labour market is a reality for many sectors throughout B.C. We are actively working to support school districts in their recruitment of qualified staff including custodians.”

The real problem, according to the district and teachers, is a lack of funding from the province.

“If there was enough money to go around to address all of the shortfalls and all of the needs of the schools, we wouldn’t be in situations like this,” said Turcotte. Top Stories


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