Coronavirus: Will students return to Alberta classrooms this school year? Call is Dr. Hinshaw’s

As parents across Alberta struggle to work from home while trying to help their children with distance learning, the big question is: how long will it last?

“I don’t have those answers,” said Trisha Estabrooks, chair of Edmonton Public Schools.

“That really is the decision of the government of Alberta.”

Estabrooks said weeks ago, prior to school closures, when administration and staff started putting a plan of action in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were directed by the province and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health to think long-term.

Estabrooks said the board was told there’s a good chance schools will be closed until the end of the year.

“We take that advice seriously.”

All schools were closed to students on March 16 and Grade 12 diploma exams have been cancelled in Alberta.

The government also announced every student will receive final grades and will receive a report card appropriate to the grade level.

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“All students who were on track to progress to the next grade will,” the government said.

School boards across the province are waiting on direction from the province.

“Edmonton Catholic Schools is planning for remote learning until the end of June,” said Lori Nagy with Edmonton Catholic Schools.

Nagy said if Alberta Education advises the division that students can return to classrooms, “then we will definitely change our focus and be ready to teach students once classes resume.”

Alberta Education said in-person classes remain cancelled indefinitely.

“I don’t want to downplay that– that is significant,” Estabrooks added. “We know it will impact students.”

“Just because we’re in a pandemic it doesn’t mean the needs of our students decrease. In fact, for many students, the needs are increasing.”

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