Alberta Education approved a request this week from public and Catholic schools in Calgary to temporarily shift Grades 7 to 12 to at-home learning.
The shift, which will start April 19 and last for two weeks, was approved based on a chronic substitute teacher shortage, a significant number of students and staff in isolation and quarantine and substantial COVID-19 cases in the community.
“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 Minister of Education Adrianna LaGrange.
“The safety of students and staff is my top priority, which is why I am responding to the boards’ requests and respecting their autonomy.”
An Alberta government news release states 19 per cent of schools in the province are on alert or have outbreak status.
There are about 2,585 active cases of COVID-19 among children ages 10-19, according to data available on the provincial government’s website.
Of the 9,094 cases reported from April 7-13 province wide, 1,545 were in the 10-19 age group.
“We are seeing a sharp rise in cases among school-aged Albertans, as well as those in other age groups. While this is an operational decision, I support it and ask that parents and students continue making safe choices to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“Social activities outside of school can easily spread the virus, so please continue following all the health measures in place.”
According to the release, school boards can continue to request an entire school to move temporarily to at-home learning due to operational reasons and the province continues to work closely with school boards to support students and families.
Decisions to move a portion of a school, such as one grade, continue to be at the discretion of the school board.