Online learning registration closes as Albertans brace for back-to-school
CALGARY -- On the final day for thousands of Calgary parents to choose to enrol their children in online learning, rather than sending them back to the classroom, some say they feel nervous about how it will unfold.
Online hub registration for the Calgary Board of Education concluded at 4 p.m. on Aug. 24
Parents who did register their children for online learning will have an additional week to decide whether or not to switch to in-class learning. Those wishing to cancel hub learning registration must email their school prior to Sept. 1 to indicate their child will be moving to face-to-face learning.
Some families who have chosen in-class education worry about safety saying class sizes should be cut in half — to 15 students — to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“It’s a scary thing to put your littlest and most valuable citizens into a situation where they might go home and carry an awful disease,” said Dennis Coulthard whose granddaughter is entering a kindergarten class of 30 students.
One expert says the online option can be a good route for self-motivated students.
“This is not going to be like it was in the spring where it was chaos,” said Brittany Harker Martin an associate professor of leadership, policy and governance at the Univeristy of Calgary.
“It’s going to be different, the online students are going to be in a program that’s designed for online learning."
CBE students who start the school year online must continue there until Feb. 1, 2021, but they may choose to return to the classroom in February by requesting a change in writing by Jan. 8, 2021.
Some families worry about being locked in to one learning option, but an infectious disease specialist expects flexibility will be needed to accommodate students who are sick and need time to recover and get tested.
“Err on the side of safety and we need to ensure that there’s a culture that supports that,” said Craig Jenne.
He said families should discuss with their school how they might handle an outbreak, and each family will have different risk factors.
“So whereas other kids may continue in a classroom with a positive case, others may choose to pull their kid out at least until that case is resolved,” said Jenne.
The province is still figuring out what scenario might lead to a school closure.
“Those thresholds, or metrics, have not yet been determined,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw Alberta’s chief medical officer of health,
“(There) will be discussions between health and education as we look at learn from other jurisdictions.”
The deadline for online enrolment Rocky View Schools was also Aug. 24 while Calgary Catholic School District students had to commit to a full year of learning either in the classroom or online and had until Aug. 21 to register.
Alberta’s school re-entry plan includes mandatory masks when physical distancing is not possible, reorganizing classrooms to allow for more space and creating cohorts of students when possible.