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No more photocopies, no more ink: Thames Valley schools run out of toner | CBC News

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The Thames Valley District School Board is facing a shortage of Xerox copier toner, making it difficult for teachers to provide students with photocopied assignments in the immediate future. 

The shortage is the result of supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. 

The TVDSB said it has been working with Xerox to provide a limited supply of toner to schools that are running low or completely out. In the meantime, it’s encouraging other schools to limit the use of their photocopiers.

“We have recommended to all locations that the use of printing be minimized as much as possible and priority given to the printing of sensitive and confidential documentation,” the board said in a statement to CBC News. 


Craig Smith, president of theThames Valley local of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said teachers were informed of the shortage last week. They have not been told how long it will last. 

Craig Smith is president of the Thames Valley local of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario. (Submitted by Craig Smith)


He said teachers heavily depend on printed documents to cope with a pre-existing “chronic shortage” of supplies such as textbooks and workbooks. 

“Photocopying and photocopy documents are an important part of what teachers rely on to be able to deliver curriculum to students,” Smith said. 

Teachers often print off drafts of their progress reports to edit before distributing them to parents. However, they’ve been told by the board to avoid doing so, and to avoid printing out photocopies altogether, he said.

“Our question to the board is, ‘would it be better not to pivot to a digital distribution of that to free up toner so that teachers in the frontline can continue to do the work that they need to do to support the students in their learning?’ And we haven’t had a response from the board yet on that.”  

He said the shortage has left teachers in a “tough spot,” having to improvise for solutions and “make it work.” 

It’s inadvisable for teachers to pay for photocopies out of pocket, but Smith said that is likely the case for many. 

The Thames Valley District School Board is recommending that its schools limit their printing, due to a recent shortage of Xerox copier toner. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Amelia Camilleri, a grade 11 student at H.B. Beal Secondary School, said paper is an important part of the learning process. 

“I definitely prefer the paper because it gets more in my brain that way, than just trying to type it out,” Camilleri said. 

“I worry less about if I’m typing on the computer correctly and more, just making sure I’m doing all of my work correctly, especially with math.” 

Student Alex Dease said that after a year of online schooling, they worry about having to learn math without paper. 

“I personally work better with photocopied paper, just like writing stuff down rather than online digital copies,” said Dease. 

“It’s harder to do the work just digitally, especially in math. When you need to do so (many) things digitally, math is really hard to type out.”   

Meanwhile, the London Catholic District School Board said it is not facing a toner shortage of its own. 

Global supply problems began last year, when factories across Asia were forced to shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The supply chain has also been disrupted by labour shortages.

Supply issues have also impacted the automotive industry and availability of holiday goods

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