Staff, COVID-19 PPE uncertainties as Edmonton students head back to school

As Omicron cases continue to climb, Alberta students are preparing to go back to the classroom on Monday.

But it doesn’t come without trepidation as COVID-19 cases remain extremely high in the province.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta ‘will not revisit’ mandatory vaccination: Kenney

As of Friday, Edmonton Catholic said it knows of 255 total staff absences as of Friday. Of that, about 70 are teachers.

“That will impact us on Monday,” a spokesperson said. “With the rapid spread of Omicron, we are expecting we will have approximately 200 teachers absent.”

“COVID-19 related absences of both staff and students pose a significant risk to the division’s ability to provide continuity of learning,” reads an open letter from Edmonton Public School Board Trustees, addressed to the Alberta government. The letter asked the government to provide more data to help schools plan for mitigation purposes.

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Edmonton Public’s own data shared with the Ministry of Education showed 151 unfilled jobs in December, a rise from 74 jobs in November.

Despite a winter break extension from the province, the public school board said its concerns remain.

Read more: Severe illness not rising as fast as ‘enormous’ number of Omicron infections: Tam

The province is sending rapid test kits and medical-grade masks to schools. An Alberta Education spokesperson said AHS will begin the first shipments this week. It anticipates the majority of school will have shipments by the end of next week.

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Some Edmonton schools taking steps to address air quality in classrooms

Edmonton Public has started to get masks for adults, but no paediatric masks or rapid test kits.

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No supplies have arrived yet at Edmonton Catholic Schools, according to chief superintendent Robert Martin.

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