The Calgary Catholic School District will not be holding Provincial Achievement Tests this year, with the exception of Grade 12 diploma exams, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) are taken annually by all students in Grades 6 and 9 across the province. These standardized tests are normally done in January, May and June for English and French language arts, math, science and social studies, according to the province's website.

Some grade 9 students write PATs in January of each year.

"Grade 9 achievement tests based on the Knowledge and Employability programs of study in English language arts, math, science and social studies are also administered," read an online description.

Calgary Board of Education Supt. Chris Usih issued a statement Wednesday, saying "the CBE is reviewing our options regarding the writing of PAT’s in Grades 6 and 9 and will communicate our decision next week."

Colin Aitchison, press secretary to the minister of education, also issued a statement Wednesay morning.

"As we developed our school re-entry plan we heard very clearly that parents wanted a return to regular assessment for their children. In fact, a survey conducted by the Alberta School Councils’ Association found that 64 per cent of parents surveyed favoured a return to regular assessment, including Diploma Exams, for the 2020-21 school year," it read. 

"That said, we are always exploring options to make this return to in-person learning as smooth as possible and we will make adjustments to the school re-entry plan as required."

Aitchison added that school authorities have the ability to decision whether to administer PATs as participation is optional this year.

"School divisions are responsible for administering these exams and coordinating with their students and families, and some school authorities have already developed plans for the upcoming exam period," he said. 

"As always, Alberta Education will support school authorities where possible in the administration of these exams and we will continue to work with school authorities as we approach the exam period."

The head of CSSD says he appreciates that the province has given school districts a choice whether or not to participate in the PATs.

"I believe that students in Calgary Catholic have been under a lot of anxiety related to COVID-19 and adjusting to the new health measures, so if we can take something off of their plate, we always make decisions that are in the best interest of our students," said Supt. Bryan Szumlas.

He adds Grade 12 students are under just as much stress and supports the idea of suspending diploma exams this year as well.

A number of schools in Calgary have been placed on watch status, meaning five or more cases of COVID-19 have been identified. Nelson Mandela High School in Calgary received the watch status designation on Tuesday by the province.

Two other Calgary-area schools, St. Wilfrid and Canyon Meadows, remain on watch status as well as one school in Airdrie.

There are outbreaks at 14 other Calgary schools defined by two or more cases.

Alberta reported 276 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, including 78 in the Calgary Zone.

There were 11 additional workers put into isolation at Foothills hospital, and no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 to report.

Two schools on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation have also been closed this week due to COVID concerns after Morley Community School and Nakoda Elementary School each confirmed cases over the weekend.

In Edmonton, the public school board voted Tuesday afternoon to suspend diploma exams and provincial achievement tests because of the pandemic's impact on students and staff.

With files from CTV Calgary's Alesia Fieldberg