Alberta parents and teachers should plan for a return to in-class learning next week, the Ministry of Education says, though officials are prepared to change gears if necessary.
Most Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in the province were sent home from in-class learning starting May 7 at the same time as a new round of public health orders were issued aimed at slowing the spread of the third wave of COVID-19. The goal was to have students back in classrooms following the May long weekend.
In a statement Tuesday, Nicole Sparrow, press secretary for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said Alberta Education is committed to a safe return to in-person learning next Tuesday but will be monitoring the situation.
“We recognize the importance of resuming in-person learning as soon as it is possible. We are confident students will return back to their classrooms to finish the school year,” she said.
At a press conference Tuesday, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the decision to move classes online was an operational choice by Alberta Education due to concerns like staffing issues, not based on public health advice.
She said she would be comfortable sending her kids back to class as scheduled.
“I think that with community transmission beginning to see a decline, with immunizations on the rise, and with other restrictions in place to limit transmission of COVID-19. Schools have been in this last year one of the safest places for children to be,” she said.
Since classes were moved online, Alberta’s vaccination program has been opened up to everyone 12 or older.
On May 4, the government opened up vaccines for teachers.
Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said he didn’t know how many teachers are now vaccinated, but added teachers have mixed emotions about potential returning to the classroom.
“They want to be as safe as possible for themselves and their students. But they also want to be with their students at school working, because ideally that’s the place that is the best for learning.”
More to come