Calgary public, Catholic schools given extension of online learning for grades 7-12

Online learning for students in grades 7 to 12 with the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District will be extended for two more weeks. Blake Lough reports.

Grade 7 to 12 students in Calgary’s public and Catholic schools have been granted an extension to online learning for another two weeks, the Alberta government said Wednesday.

In a statement on the Calgary Board of Education’s website, the CBE said Alberta Education approved the request to extend the at-home learning until May 17, “to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our schools.”

“We are still seeing high numbers of daily COVID-19 cases in our community, and thousands of students and staff continue to isolate,” the board said.

Classes are still proceeding normally for students in kindergarten to Grade 6, as well as students participating in Hub online learning or specialized classes that weren’t moved online earlier this month.

“We would all like to see students return to in-person learning as soon as possible,” CBE chief superintendent Christopher Usih said in the statement.

“This was a difficult decision that was made only after reviewing all of the factors that are contributing to significant disruptions in learning.”

Both school boards made requests roughly two weeks ago to have classes move online due to operational challenges with continuing in-person teaching. Specifically, the Calgary school boards were experiencing a chronic shortage of substitute teachers.

Read more:
Calgary junior, high schools move to online learning amid rising COVID-19 cases

A spokesperson for the Calgary Catholic School District said the request for an extension of online learning was made “for safety reasons.”

“This decision has been made in an effort to lower COVID-19 cases and to help deal with ongoing operational issues,” the board said.

“We recognize the challenges around online learning and would like to thank our parents, students and staff for their support and cooperation as we navigate through this pandemic.”

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Alberta Education said the extension starts Monday and runs for two weeks.

“At the request of the school boards, Alberta Education has approved an extension for students in grades 7 to 12 in Calgary Public Schools and Calgary Catholic Schools to continue with at-home learning for two additional weeks, starting May 3,” press secretary Nicole Sparrow said.

“We know in-classroom learning has significant benefits, and that this is difficult news to many students, parents and teachers. However, due to continued operational concerns, this exemption is necessary to ensure learning can continue.”

Alberta Education has four key criteria that factor into the approval of a board to shift a school, or a portion of its student population, to online learning, which include:

  • A chronic substitute teacher shortage
  • A significant number of students and staff in quarantine or isolation
  • Recent requests from the board for short-term shifts for schools
  • Substantial COVID-19 cases in the community

Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said the restriction around school sports is also in effect as long as students are learning online.

Read more:
Edmonton schools temporarily move grades 7 to 12 online amid 3rd wave of COVID-19

The CBE said that in light of the move to online learning, Calgary Transit would allow students with April transit passes to use those passes throughout the month of May, and May passes that have already been bought can be refunded.

On April 20, Edmonton school boards also moved their Grade 7 to 12 students to online learning.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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