As Alberta’s COVID-19 case counts continue to rise, the province has announced a move back to online learning for Grade 7 to 12 students in Calgary.
“While everyone’s preference is to learn in school, some school boards are dealing with operational pressures due to rising COVID-19 cases in the community,” said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in a Wednesday afternoon media release.
“The safety of students and staff is my top priority,” she continued. “Which is why I am responding to the boards’ requests and respecting their autonomy. By having a clear process in place, we are giving them flexibility to move to at-home learning when necessary.”
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Beginning Monday, April 19, students in Grades 7 to 12 in the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School Districts will shift to online learning for a minimum of two weeks. This includes Cochrane and Airdrie schools that fall under these districts.
The decision to approve a school board’s request to shift to at-home learning is based on four criteria. This criteria includes a chronic substitute teacher shortage, a significant number of students and staff in quarantine or isolation, substantial COVID-19 cases in the community, and recent requests from the board for short-term shifts for a number of their schools.
“Decisions to move a portion of a school, such as one grade, continue to be at the discretion of the school board,” reads the media release.
The Alberta government notes that school boards can continue to request that an entire school to move temporarily to at-home learning due to operational reasons.
“We appreciate that the government has responded to our concerns. The greatest impacts of COVID-19 cases have been in the Grade 7-12 schools,” said Marilyn Dennis, board chair, Calgary Board of Education.
“Moving these students online will help to ensure learning continuity, address operational concerns and support the health and well-being of CBE students, staff and the Calgary community.”
School boards will be in contact with students, parents, teachers, and staff to provide details about this transition.
Approximately 19% of schools in Alberta currently have active COVID-19 alerts or outbreaks. To date, Alberta Health has not required any school closures for health reasons.