Families of Catholic students told to choose online or in-person learning for rest of year

Parents of students attending Catholic schools in Edmonton are being told they can choose only one learning option for the rest of the current school year — online or in-person.

An earlier plan gave families four opportunities within the year to select their preferred learning option. The choices were designed to help families make the best decisions for their children as schools reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Edmonton Catholic School Division is facing a strain on resources, including the availability of teachers, and needs to adjust its plans, it said in a news release Monday.

“In discussion with our administrators, teachers and in hearing from our departmental support staff, the reconfiguring of staffing and scheduling three more times this academic year would place a tremendous strain on available resources and may have a negative impact on student learning,” chief superintendent Robert Martin said in the release.

Martin said the district is facing a shortage of qualified Catholic teachers, especially in specialized programs, because other school jurisdictions across Alberta are all hiring more teachers.

The district will now permit only one further move between in-person and online learning at the end of the current quartermester.

Deputy superintendent Tim Cusack will speak to media about the change at a 10 a.m. news conference.

“This is a decision we did not make lightly,” Cusack said in the release.

“Having clearly heard the voice of our teachers and support staff, as well as community stakeholders, like parents and students, we feel it is prudent to make this change.”

Starting today and ending on Oct. 15, families will have access to a link in PowerSchool where they can choose a learning option for their child or children. 

That choice will be in effect until the end of June “and creates the organizational stability that will ensure the continuity of learning for all students,” the school division said.

The next quartermester begins Nov. 10.

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