Despite a recent climb in COVID-19 cases and outbreaks, public schools in Rocky View County (RVC) will continue to operate in person for the time being.
While public and Catholic school districts in Calgary and Edmonton have recently received provincial government approval to temporarily shift classes in grades 7 to 12 back to an at-home learning scenario, a public letter to parents from Rocky View Schools (RVS) officials on April 20 stated the district will be keeping students in school – at least for now.
“Recently, the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District shifted to online learning for Grade 7 to 12 students,” stated the letter, which was co-signed by Superintendent Greg Luterbach and Board of Trustees Chair Fiona Gilbert. “This was a result of staffing shortages and increasing case counts both in schools and in communities.”
The letter went on to state that RVS is continuing to monitor the division’s case and isolation numbers, along with its staffing needs.
“All RVS schools remain open at this time, as we are able to maintain enough teachers in classrooms and most students are able to come to school,” the letter reads. “We recognize that for some families, this is positive news, while some others feel the entire system or their select school should move online.”
The letter comes as RVS, like many other school divisions across the province, is experiencing a high number of COVID-19 outbreaks. Twenty of the division's schools were listed on the Alberta government’s COVID-19 school status map as of April 22.
As of that date, six RVS schools in Airdrie, five in Cochrane, six in RVC and three in Chestermere were reporting positive COVID-19 cases. Eight of those schools were reporting outbreaks of 10 or more cases as of April 22.
According to the letter, the Alberta government’s criteria for moving entire school divisions online include chronic substitute teacher shortages, a significant number of students and staff needing to self-isolate and substantial COVID-19 infections in the region.
“We are monitoring our system and schools closely against these criteria to determine if we might need to request approval to shift a school or our entire system temporarily online,” the letter stated.
“Across RVS, we continue to follow strict protocols to limit transmission and protect our students and staff. We appreciate the efforts of our school communities as we work together to keep each other safe.”