A staffing shortage has been cited as the cause for the indefinite closure of the Ditidaht Community School, although the First Nation hopes to have the facility reopened within the next two weeks.
On Monday, May 1 residents of the small on-reserve community by Nitinaht Lake were informed through the school’s Facebook page that the learning facility would be closed for the day due to a lack of staff.
“We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to open Tuesday, May 2nd,” stated the social media post.
But later that evening another notice stated that the school would be “closed until further notice.”
“More information to follow,” said the school’s page.
The closure affects approximately 50 students who attend the school from kindergarten to Grade 12, comprising over a quarter of the community of less than 200 residents. It adds another inconvenience for Ditidaht families, as the Nitinaht general store has been closed recently as well due to a lack of staffing.
Ditidaht Chief Councillor Brian Tate said this is the first time this year that a staff shortage has forced the school to close. He explained that the community is currently dealing with two recent losses, but expects the school to reopen in the coming days.
“I’m hoping within the week or so,” said Tate. “We’re working to have it straightened out as quick as we can.”
The Ditidaht Community School officially opened in 2004, after decades of students being bused an hour and a half each way via logging road to Port Alberni. Having a school built was a longtime aspiration for the Nitinaht Lake community, which is the amalgamation of multiple groups in the 1960s that originated from traditional homes on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island.