CALGARY -- The Calgary Board of Education says more than 21,000 of its students enrolled in the hub online learning option prior to Monday's deadline.

The school board says the number represents approximately 16 per cent of its total students.

Kyla Aspeling and her family decided she would do Grade 7 through the online hub due to safety concerns during the pandemic but the 12-year-old worries about keeping in touch with her friends.

"I'm nervous about going to online schooling," said Kyla.

"I won't be able to see my friends a lot and I won't be able to really chat with them."

So she and her mother have just launched a protected social network called Kid Social.

"We thought we'll build something where kids can connect online and it's safe to do that," said Tamara Asperling, who created Kid Social.

It's a members-only site with filters, educational forums, and no private messaging.

"There will be a public chat and there's groups and that kind of thing but there's also full privacy settings," explained Aspeling.

There is a small membership fee of $3.99 per month that ensures each child has parental consent and covers the cost of web hosting.

CBE's online enrolment numbers may decrease over the coming days as parents and guardians have the option to move their children into in-class learning prior to the start of school on Sept. 1.

The CBE says families who selected the hub learning option will receive a confirmation email on Friday outlining the next steps.

Students enrolled in online learning may opt of the hub by declaring their decision ahead of Jan. 8, 2021 and return to the classroom for Feb. 1, 2021.

The Calgary Catholic School District continues to finalize its enrolment numbers but confirms more than 5,000 students have enrolled in online learning.

Online enrolment in Calgary's public schools is far lower than in Edmonton. Earlier this week, the Edmonton Public School Board announced nearly a third of its students had enrolled in online learning.

As for online homeschooling, those numbers aren't finalized yet but the province said Vista virtual learning currently has 262 students enrolled, and that number is expected to rise once the school year starts.