Grade one teacher Heidi Dimou arranges the desks in line with physical distancing policy in her class in preparation for the new school year at the Willingdon Elementary School in Montreal, on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Alberta students expected to return to in-person learning next week

Kids can anticipate a return to the classroom next week in Alberta.

Alberta Education is confident students can be back at school for the end of the year, an email statement from the ministry of education confirmed Tuesday.

“Alberta Education is committed to a safe return to in-person learning on May 25, however we will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed,” the statement from Nicole Sparrow, press secretary to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange reads.

“We recognize the importance of resuming in-person learning as soon as it is possible. We are confident students will return back to their classrooms to finish the school year.”

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday that the return to in-class learning is an “operational decision” by Alberta Education.

“The decision to move to online learning was not based on a public health need. So, the decision to bring children back again was a decision based on educational considerations,” she said.

“I don’t believe there to be a public health risk in bringing children back to school. The shifting has been based not on a public health driver, rather on that operational consideration.”

Most K-12 students in the province transitioned to online learning on May 7, with the goal to return to in-person learning on May 25.

Starting May 3, all junior and senior high schools in “hot spot” communities had to move to online learning as per the regional restrictions that were announced on April 29. The province had put in place targeted COVID-19 measures in communities and regions where there were more than 350 active cases per 100,000 people and that have at least 250 total active cases.

That included Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Airdrie, Lethbridge and Strathcona County.

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