Some students at Red Deer Catholic schools including St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School, St. Patrick’s Community School, and École Camille J Lerouge School are moving to temporary online learning at home. (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Some students at Red Deer Catholic schools including St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School, St. Patrick’s Community School, and École Camille J Lerouge School are moving to temporary online learning at home. (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

UPDATED: 7 Catholic and 1 Red Deer public school move students to online learning

COVID-19 cases climb over the weekend

More Red Deer and central Alberta students are switching to online learning this week due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

Grade 7 to 9 students at seven Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools will learn online starting Tuesday due to a shortage of substitute teachers as a result of COVID. In-person learning will resume on May 10.

“We realize that we must take action to ensure we are able to keep substitute teachers in front of our kindergarten to Grade 6 students where possible,” said superintendent Kathleen Finnigan in a letter to parents.

Red Deer Catholic schools impacted include St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School, St. Patrick’s Community School, and École Camille J Lerouge School.

Central Alberta schools affected are St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School in Innisfail, École Mother Teresa School in Sylvan Lake (English and French classes), and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds where students will return to in-person learning on May 7.

“Please know that this decision was not made lightly and, as we continue to realize the strains that COVID-19 places on us, we need to be flexible with our decision making and place our students and their learning at the centre of all conversations,” Finnigan said.

Central Middle School with Red Deer Public Schools also moved its Grades 7 and 8 students to temporary online learning at home on Monday due to the number of students and staff that need to isolate.

“This decision is in response to cases over the weekend requiring the isolation of 178 students in Grades 7 and 8, as well as 12 staff,” said Darrin DeMale, Central Middle School principal, in a statement released on Sunday.

“Cases of Grade 6 students have been minimal, thus the differences in how we will move forward. We made the decision given ongoing pressures and strains being put on students, learning resources and staff.”

Grade 7 and 8 students may return to classes on May 4, but that could change as the school district monitors exposure and case counts.

“With two months of school remaining, we still have significant teaching and learning to take place to ensure students meet all outcomes. Red Deer Public remains ready to pivot should any changes arise,” said superintendent Chad Erickson.

“Given the increase in cases across our community, we urge all our students and families to be even more vigilant in following health restrictions for COVID-19. It is through our combined efforts that we will be able to get back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible.”

Last week Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School announced all students were temporarily shifting to online learning starting this week.

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