LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- For most Lethbridge schools, Thursday was the last day of in-school classes until after the May long weekend.

One school official described it as “a hectic dash to Monday” for teachers preparing to transition to on-line learning starting Monday.

“We got a backpack full of stuff,” said Jessica Solvey, who was picking up her five-year-old daughter Charlie after her morning kindergarten class at Senator Buchanan Elementary School.

“We’re ready to do some on-line, at-home learning.”

Solvey said she and her husband work different shifts, so childcare won’t be a problem, but she understands the challenges that many families will be facing, including single parents.

“My heart goes out to those who can’t find babysitters, who don’t have the time, or that need to work,” added Solvey.

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Many teachers have been working extra hours in the evening, or early morning before school, to prepare packages to send home with students.

Lakeview Elementary School held an art viewing for parents Wednesday in connection with Mental Health Week and Education week. The children taped their paintings to the windows, so parents could walk by and view their work. Principal Dawn Walmsley said students and teachers have had to be adaptable this year, but the pandemic and resulting changes, make it more stressful.

“This has been a challenging year for all of our students, all of our community, all of our families,” said Walmsley.

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the shift to at-home learning was made amid ongoing difficulties with students and teachers having to isolate.

“I truly hope that this is the last time that we will be in this situation,” she said.

On Monday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said 808 schools had active alerts or outbreaks of COVID-19, representing about 33 per cent of Alberta schools, with 5,358 cases in total.

LeGrange said the number of students and staff quarantining, shortages of substitute teachers and requests from schools to shift to at-home learning have all increased substantially.


The Alberta Teachers Association provided a statement in response to the announcement.

“Teachers have a heavy heart and mixed emotions to see learning move online for the next three weeks. We would always prefer to be in schools working with students, but today’s decision is a prudent move to regain control over the spread of COVID in Alberta," said ATA President Jason Schilling.

Schilling also said he is relieved that the vast majority of teachers and school staff will have an opportunity to receive at least their first dose of vaccine before in-person learning resumes.

The association said school boards must now do their part to reduce the risk of spread, by allowing all teachers who are able to work from home, to work from home.

Parent Kendra Vere said she expects to be doing a lot of multitasking over the next few weeks, as she struggles to make sure both her children are keeping up and getting the support they need while learning at home.

“It’s hard, because I don’t always have the child care. It’s just a lot.”

Students are scheduled to return to classroom learning after the Victoria Day Long Weekend, however staff at the Lethbridge School Division will have an extra day to prepare because Tuesday, May 25 is designated as a professional learning day.