Junior and senior high students moved online, Alberta schools to resume in-class learning Jan. 11, 2021

CALGARY — Junior and senior high school students in Alberta will soon be moved to online classes and all students won’t return to in-class learning after the winter break until Jan. 11, 2021.

As Alberta leads the country in COVID-19 cases, Premier Jason Kenney announced new measures for schools, which will see students in Grades K-6 continue in-class learning, while junior high and high school students will switch to online learning on Nov. 30.

All students will then be off on holiday break on Dec. 18, and they won’t return to in-class learning until Jan. 11, 2021 as there will be a week of at-home learning in the new year.

The measures comes as many families have been getting nervous about the growing number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations.

“Nervous about case counts, nervous about things climbing,” said Nathan Pronyshyn.

“I have a partner who is a teacher and two kids in different schools.”

Jesse Bauman, the mother of a kindergarten student, called it “anxiety provoking.”

“I think teachers are doing the best they can, so that’s good, but I’m concerned,” she said.

Both families would like their kids to continue in-class learning, but if cases keep rising they might choose to keep them home instead.

Online learning registration closed months ago for students in both the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District.

“That’s still the direction, that people stick with their choices,” said Calgary Catholic Chief Supt. Bryan Szumlas.

 “The primary reason being the relationship between the student and their teacher. I think overall people are pretty happy with the choice that they’ve made.”

He says there have a few exceptions made, on a case-by-case basis, allowing students to switch to the online program.

Thousands of students have had to attend virtual classes while isolating, and teachers as well.

“Having to pivot back and forth sometimes at the drop of a hat has been extremely challenging for teachers,” said Jason Schilling president of Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Currently, about 3,700 students and 300 staff of CSSD are isolating and approximately 4,000 students and 300 staff of CBE.

Schilling added that more government funding is needed to help continue in-class learning.

 “Hiring teachers, (Education Assistants), you know making sure they have enough PPE,” he said.

More Albertans have chosen homeschooling this year.

So far, nearly 3,477 students have enrolled in the province’s Vista Virtual Learning for the 2020/21 school year compared to about 2,832 the previous year.

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