As the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta continues to rise, the province has announced that it will return to online learning in Calgary for students in grades 7-12.
“While everyone would rather study in school, some school authorities are facing operational pressure as COVID-19 cases in the community increase,” Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a media release on Wednesday afternoon.
“The safety of students and staff is my top priority,” she continued. “That’s why I respond to the boards’ requests and respect their autonomy. Through a clear process, we give them the flexibility to move on to home learning if necessary. “
Starting Monday, April 19, students in grades 7 through 12 of the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School Districts will switch to online learning for a minimum of two weeks. This includes Cochrane and Airdrie schools, which fall under these districts.
The decision to approve a school board’s application to move to home learning is based on four criteria. These criteria include a chronic shortage of replacement teachers, significant numbers of students and staff in quarantine or isolation, significant COVID-19 cases in the community, and recent board requests for short-term shifts for a number of their schools.
“The decision to relocate part of a school, for example a class, is still at the discretion of the school authorities,” said the press release.
The Alberta government notes that school authorities may still require an entire school to temporarily move to home study for operational reasons.
“We appreciate that the government has responded to our concerns. The biggest impact from COVID-19 cases was in grades 7-12 schools, ”said Marilyn Dennis, chairwoman of the Calgary Board of Education.
“By putting these students online, you can ensure continuity of learning, address operational issues, and promote the health and wellbeing of CBE students, staff, and the Calgary community.”
School authorities will be in contact with students, parents, teachers and staff for details on this transition.
Approximately 19% of schools in Alberta currently have active COVID-19 alerts or outbreaks. So far, Alberta Health has not requested school closings for health reasons.