Lethbridge schools prepare for all scenarios as Alberta extends student winter break – Lethbridge


K-12 students in Lethbridge were preparing to return to classrooms next week, but Thursday the province announced that back-to-school has been pushed back to Jan. 10.

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COVID-19: Alberta will delay return to in-person K to 12 school until Jan. 10

The extended winter break was announced by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in response to ballooning Omicron case numbers. The extra time is intended to give school authorities time to gather additional data and assess staffing implications and potential operational impacts.

“Many are concerned about potential staffing challenges,” LaGrange said Thursday. “This is not limited to classroom teachers, and includes other staff such as bus drivers, custodians, and educational assistants, as well as administrators and maintenance workers.”

The Lethbridge School Division said in a statement to Global News that it was also announced that online learning delivery will not be offered next week, as well as all school-related activities, such as extra-curriculars and co-curriculars.

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“Lethbridge School Division is anticipating more information next week from the provincial government regarding what a return to school will look like on Jan. 10,” the statement continued. “At this time, Minister LaGrange stated the government is anticipating school will be in person on Jan. 10.”

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B.C. teachers say delayed back-to-school plan not enough to address Omicron concerns

Lethbridge’s Holy Spirit Catholic School Division released a letter to parents on Thursday afternoon with early reaction to the decision.

“During this time, school jurisdictions have been asked to determine the impact that the Omicron variant will have on staffing and prepare for in-person learning the week of Jan. 10,” said Superintendent Ken Sampson.

“Depending on the Government’s subsequent decisions, further changes may be required and will be communicated when known.”

The province also announced on Thursday that 8.6 million rapid tests and 16.5 million masks will be distributed to schools for staff and students starting the week of Jan. 10.

Diploma exams in January have also been cancelled province-wide, in order to support high school students whose learning has been disrupted.

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Alberta reduces COVID-19 isolation period for fully vaccinated people from 10 to 5 days

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Alberta Teachers’ Association President Jason Schilling said he hopes moving forward, the province will listen to the lived experiences of teachers more closely when making decisions that impact education.

“Unfortunately, the minister of education has chosen not to engage meaningfully with teachers, and the association was not consulted on the announcement made yesterday,” Schilling said.

LaGrange said on Thursday that another update will be made late next week regarding next steps.

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

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