CALGARY -- Alberta’s educational assistants and other school support staff are set to join the tens of thousands already suddenly out of work in the province, following a surprise announcement over the weekend.

Education Minister Adriana Lagrange announced what she promised will be a temporary cut in order to redirect up to $128 million to the province’s response to COVID-19.

While there are no students in classrooms, schools remain open for teachers as they attempt to deliver content online.

It's no small task — while boards had software already in use, it wasn’t meant to deliver entire courses to every student simultaneously. Teachers in the two Calgary boards are contacting each individual family to help make a plan to deliver course material. In some cases that will mean printed copies.

Far from sitting idle, the Alberta Teachers Association says education assistants are helping with the new workload.

The province says education assistants will be paid through the end of April, and claims most substitute teachers will make more money from EI than they would have by working.

The cuts as announced are 14 per cent of the budget for education assistants and substitute teachers and 51 per cent of the transportation budget. The cuts come from the payments due between now and the end of the school year in June.

The province has promised to give all school jurisdictions a precise number they will need to cut on Tuesday. It will then be up to the boards to decide which staff it has to lay off in order to reach that number.