Back to school shifted a week, but in person

Leader staff

Preschool to Grade 12 students are back in the classroom after an extended holiday.

On the evening of Thursday, December 30th, the Alberta government announced that classes wouldn’t start again until January 10th in response to the Omicron COVID-19 variant. Also, January high school diploma exams were cancelled.

The news release directed school boards to prepare for the possibility of either in-person or virtual teaching. It also promised a decision by the end of the following week.

On Wednesday, January 5, the government announced that students would be going back to school in person.

Both news releases also mentioned supplies of medical-grade masks and rapid tests.

In the January 5th news release, Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education said, “I have heard overwhelmingly from families that learning in person is best for their kids, who feel more connected, learn better and thrive while attending school in person.

“Experts agree and continue to stress the importance of in-person learning to the overall health of children and youth. That is why Alberta’s government has placed such a high priority on safe in-class instruction and making sure schools have the tools they need to continue providing a world-class education to Alberta students.”

If the situation changes, the Alberta government may decide to shift individual school districts or schools to at-home learning, adds the news release. This will be done in consultation with the school boards.

The news release says that before a school switches to virtual teaching, the government will look at “student absentee rates, the ability of a school or school authority to have staff available to operate in-school classes and other relevant information, including local health data, if available.”

Alberta Education has set up a free e-tutoring hub for Grades 4 to 9.

Quick facts

  • Both at-home rapid test kits and medical-grade masks will be distributed using a phased approach, with shipments being sent to schools as they are received by the province.
  • Initially, boxes of five at-home rapid test kits will provide enough supply for each student and staff member to test twice per week for 2.5 weeks and a two-week supply of masks for each student and staff will also be shipped. A medical-grade mask has been tested and meets international standards.

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