By Justin Seward
Students were back in the classroom on Monday after an official government announcement was made on Jan. 7 that the kids would be returning to school.
Jan. 11 marked the first time all students have been back in classes after the announcement on Nov. 24 where Grades 7-12 were to learn at home from Nov. 30 to the Jan. 11 due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases and excluded the holiday break. Kindergarten to Grade 6 were still in classes during that time-excluding the holiday break- and learned at home from Jan. 4-8 before returning to in-class sessions.
“The first thought I’d would give you is fantastic,” said Roger Clarke, Prairie Rose School Division superintendent.
“(We’re) really happy that’d we’re getting our kids back in to school. Obviously we’re not happy when we see any disruptions to kids’ education. We’re ready.”
Clarke says one of the things that concerns PRSD with the anxiety part is the school division not knowing where COVID goes.
“We’re happy to have them in school and we’re going to progress and get back to the learning piece as close to normal as we can. But we always have that anxiety about whether this will happen again as we go through to June,” said Clarke.
The transition back into school is well received by the parents, added Clarke.
“They were quite pleased to get back to school in September- very happy to get back after a long break from March to June,” he said.
“That’s not to say there is some anxiety out there in some families. Some anxiety in kids and they feel that anxiety, and that’s why we have some students working from home.”
The government came to the decision to return to in-class learning due to the latest evidence which showed that before the winter break the new case rates in schools plateau and saw a drop in December once restrictions on social gatherings and group activities were in place.
“I want to recognize the effort of school staff, teachers and parents to follow health measures and help us keep classrooms safe for Alberta students. I’m confident this effort will continue and we’ll see a successful return to in-person learning to the benefit of all students,” said Premier Jason Kenney.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange recognized the role schools play for students.
“Schools play a critical role in supporting student learning as well as their emotional health and overall well-being. In September, the vast majority of parents chose in-person learning for their children during the pandemic and schools have been diligently following the extensive health measures in place. A return to school will provide our students with the familiar daily routine of learning in class and will restore some sense of normalcy for both students and families amidst these unusual times,” said LaGrange.
Current restrictions remain in place until Jan. 21
Meanwhile, the provincial government also announced that the current restrictions will be in place until at least Jan. 21.
Included in those restrictions will be Alberta businesses, residents, organizations and service providers.
Businesses, organizations and services provides will be given one week’s notice prior to the changes the current health measures.
“The health measures that were put in place in December have helped to reduce the number of active cases, but it’s not enough,” said Kenney.
“ Case numbers, hospitalizations and testing positivity rates remain high. We will be carefully evaluating the data over the coming weeks to determine what options we have to give Albertans back more flexibility in their lives, and give businesses a chance to reopen. But the worst thing we could do would be to increase the chances of another surge, which would threaten our health-care system again and require more restrictions. We must be careful and deliberate, and avoid the roller-coaster of uncertainty that a new surge would create.”