Okotoks area schools are working on how to serve their students after the provincial government announced all K to 12 classes in the province will be indefinitely cancelled effective March 16 due to a change of status in COVID-19 in Alberta.
“Those are details that superintendent Chris Fuzessy is working on with his team,” said Foothills School Division chairman Larry Albrecht. “It’s going to take a little bit of time to organize that and communicate to students and parents how that is going to look like.”
He said online learning is a logical possibility, but it may not fit every student.
“Subject matter and the academics it might be possible, but in high school, and I am just thinking off the top of my head, if they are taking fine art courses or CTS courses how do we access to give them credits to gain towards their high school diploma?” he said.
Albrecht said the announcement, which was made at around 4:45 p.m. March 15, came as a surprise.
“Yesterday (March 14) we joined a conference call with Dr. Deena Hinshaw (Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health), the deputy minister of education and all school jurisdictions were on that call, and at that time, Dr. Hinshaw indicated that closing schools was not going to happen until she felt it was going to be necessary… so this came as a surprise.”
While students won't be at school, staff and administration will be at the education facilities.
The announcement was made March 15 after 17 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total to 56.
Two of those cases reported in the last two days appeared to have been acquired through community transmission from an unknown source and seven were a result of a single gathering in the Calgary zone, said a prepared statement from the Province.
The provincial government also announced all post-secondary classes are cancelled, child-care facilities, out-of-school care programs and pre-school programs are closed indefinitely.
“The new cases that have emerged today, particularly those demonstrating transmission into communities and school settings, means we need to put in place additional restrictions for schools, day cares, continuing care facilities and worship gatherings,” Hinshaw said in a prepared statement on March 15.
The government announcement said that all K to Grade 12 students will receive a final mark and students will progress to the next grade level.
Provincial Achievement Tests will be cancelled but diploma final exams are expected to continue.
Cindy Nickerson, communications director for Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools, said it is currently working on a plan. Further details to follow.