Edmonton Catholic asks families to commit to in-person or online learning for remainder of school year

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In a Monday letter to parents and guardians, chief superintendent Robert Martin said the decision was made to ensure consistency in instruction and learning.

“We understand that this plan is very different than what we had shared in August…we maintain that our schools are safe and in-person learning is going to provide the most complete learning experience for our students,” Martin wrote.

Quarterly changes three more times throughout the school year could have led to students having a different teacher two or three times, which could be disruptive to learning, Cusack said.

“We didn’t feel that was in the best interest,” said Cusack. There are approximately 30,000 students learning in classrooms throughout the division, and an extra 200 teachers have been hired at a cost of approximately $19 million – paid for in part by the federal safe restart funding of $15.6 million.

Edmonton Catholic also said it is experiencing a shortage of qualified Catholic teachers, especially in specialized programs.

“I think every jurisdiction is facing similar challenges in terms of the number of available qualified credentialed teachers. Our human resources team is looking at every reasonable way that we can support the demand for teachers,” said Cusack.

When asked if he was worried the division would lose students by families frustrated by the change, Cusack said he was not concerned because teachers have made relationships with students.

“This is a decision we did not make lightly, we deliberated, we (had) a lot of discussion,” he said, noting parents have three weeks to decide the remainder of the school year under the Oct. 15 deadline.

Beginning Monday, families will have access to a link in PowerSchool where they can choose a learning option for their children.

If conditions change and COVID-19 transmission rises, Cusack said the division would revisit the decision.

More to come…

lijohnson@postmedia.com

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