New COVID-19 Restrictions: Returning to online learning for Calgary’s K-12 students

How do the on-again, off-again restrictions impact your family?

The exterior of Ecole Sam Livingston School in Calgary. BRITTANY BURRIDGE/ FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

While students, teachers, and parents are transitioning to online learning once again and the rigors that go with it, some appreciate the extra protection for their children.

Virtual learning for K-12 begins May 7 in areas that meet the COVID-19 threshold outlined by the Alberta government Tuesday evening.

The Grades 7-12 schools in the Calgary area were already primarily online, and had that extended just over a week ago. Calgary K-6 classes have the biggest changeover.

According to a post on the CBE website, kids in these grades will focus on numeracy and literacy during these two weeks. Students in specialized programs can still access supports for in-person learning. Also, the licensed before and afterschool care is available if the provider is still offering it.

Classes will resume in person on May 25.

‘Difficult news’: Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said Wednesday that the number of students and staff quarantining, shortages of substitute teachers, and requests for shifts to online learning have all increased in the last four days.

“I know this is very difficult news to hear for many students, for many parents, for teachers, and for other staff,” she said.

Despite the disheartening news of more restrictions, LaGrange listed reasons why the changes are not all bad.

“While difficult, there are some positives to this shift. It will help minimize the learning loss that’s been happening due to the absences from COVID positive cases and the required quarantining that has to take place after that,” she said.

She said the restrictions will make things easier. It will improve consistency for students and parents, and allow teachers and support staff access to vaccinations. Exceptions will continue for students with disabilities, allowing them to get in-person help they may need.

“I really want all of our students and our staff to be able to close out this school year in a very strong and positive note,” LaGrange said.

Public View

Jude Simieritsch, 10, attends fourth grade at École Sam Livingston School. He was able to find an aspect of online classes to be happy about: Sleeping in.

“I don’t like being woken up,” he said.

However, he said he does feel disappointed because he likes in-person classes and seeing his friends.

Terra Simieritsch, Jude’s mom, said that online school is challenging as she and her husband work. The first round of online school was tough. Simieritsch said she was grateful to be able to put her job on hold for three months.

“It was hard on all of us. For the kids to keep finding out that they had to stay longer and longer at home, to saying goodbye to their teachers, and they miss that social interaction,” she said.

“We did try to make it as normal as possible and try to find fun family activities.”

Even though moving online comes with frustrations, Simieritsch said the restrictions are necessary.

“We’ve seen a lot more cases in the school over the last month. We definitely think it’s the safest thing,” she said.

“The kids get to sleep in a little bit later in the morning, and it’s not such a rush to get them off to school in the morning.”

Hats off to Livingston

Simieritsch also said they appreciate the extra family time. The most significant upside for them, she said, is safety and controlling how much exposure they have to others in the coming weeks.

Simieritsch said the École Sam Livingston School administration deserves kudos for how they have kept school as fun and normal as possible for the kids while also keeping them safe.

“Up until the last month, we’ve had next to no cases in our school. The teachers are having to act as health people and psychologists, and teachers and all the rest of it, and I think they need a lot of credit,” she said.

“I’m happy that vaccines are finally opening up to them.”  

Do you have something to share on the impact of this school change on your family? Comment on the story or Tweet at us @LiveWireCalgary!

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