Central Edmonton Elementary School Is Shifting To Online Learning Amid Rise Of COVID-19

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A central Edmonton elementary school is switching to online learning due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

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Starting Friday, all Westglen School classes will be temporarily taught remotely, and students are expected to return to in-person learning on October 8.

Carrie Rosa, a spokeswoman for Edmonton Public Schools, said 29 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the school since Sept. 20.

Rosa said Alberta Education approved the board’s request to switch to online learning due to the number of absent students and staff.

Nicole Sparrow, press secretary to Education Minister Adrian LaGrange, told Postmedia in an emailed statement that short-term transitions to online learning for one or more schools, or an entire division, must be approved in my LaGrange.

He added that when Alberta Education receives a request from a school board to move a school online, the department works closely with them and a decision is usually made within 24 hours.

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Sparrow said the following factors are considered before making a decision: If there is an indication of a shortage of teaching and / or support staff that is preventing a school from continuing to learn in class, a significant number of students are absent and are related to the relevant COVID-19. information provided by Alberta Health Services or the school board.

Sparrow told Postmedia on Tuesday that additional measures, such as localized rapid tests in schools, could be considered if the need arises. He said school boards can also request test kits from Alberta Health if they are interested in running their own testing program.

The move comes just days after Edmonton Public School Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks wrote a letter to LaGrange and former Health Minister Tyler Shandro “imploring” them to restore COVID-19 safety measures, like contact tracing and mandatory quarantine.

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The province no longer reports on outbreaks in schools.

Meanwhile, Alberta continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases in school-age children with 566 of the 1,660 new cases identified Thursday infecting those under the age of 20. There were 80 new cases in children 1 to 4 years old, 179 cases for 5 to 9 years and 307 cases 10 to 19 years.

During the availability of COVID-19 in the province on Thursday, Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS, acknowledged that they are seeing an increase in cases in children between the ages of 10-19 and that the Delta variant has impacted the youngest at higher rates. . He added that AHS is supporting schools to provide temporary on-site clinics to facilitate the delivery of vaccines to vaccine-eligible 7-12 students.

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“More than 1,000 eligible students have already been vaccinated at these school clinics,” Yiu said. “Parents, please complete your children’s vaccination consent forms as quickly as possible because this simple step will protect them.”

Health Medical Director Dr. Deena Hinshaw said schools can call their local public health team, which will work with them to investigate and implement necessary measures. He said schools can do this if they identify a group of “respiratory illnesses” in a classroom or other setting that they find concerning or if they hit the 10 percent threshold for absences.

When asked why parents have no right to know if there are cases of COVID in their children’s school, Hinshaw pointed to privacy concerns.

“Our current framework that does not require mandatory quarantine, does not require close contact tracing, means that the disclosure of individually identifiable health information, as would happen if notifications of individual cases occurred in schools, would be a violation of that person’s privacy. and their rights under the Health Information Law, ”he said.

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