It’s not something Edmonton school boards want to do, but online learning, virtual events and activity cancellations are possible as the number of sick students and absent teachers has continued to increase. increase on Monday.
A total of 13,913 students and 591 teachers were absent from Edmonton public schools to start the week. An additional 6,900 students and 238 teachers were alienated from the Catholic system.
The absenteeism rate in the public system fell from 7.54% on November 1 to 13.18% on Monday. In the Catholic district, this rate fell from 9.6% to 15% during the same period.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in reported cases of illness in our school communities,” Edmonton Catholic Schools Chief Superintendent Robert Martin wrote in a letter to parents Monday.
“While maintaining in-person learning is our priority, it may be necessary to move individual classes or grades to online learning.”
The Edmonton public isn’t considering going online for classes, but events at some schools could be made virtual or canceled altogether.
“The division continues to work hard to fill teaching vacancies so classes can remain in-person,” spokeswoman Veronica Jubinville told CTV News Edmonton.
Many absences are attributed to the common cold, COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“I’ve been practicing for 10 years, and in that decade I’ve never seen a virus hit children with such frequency so early in the year,” pediatrician Dr. Tehseen Ladha told CTV on Monday. News Edmonton.
She suggests the province consider implementing short-term masking mandates until respiratory illness peaks for the season. Upgrading air filtration systems would also help, Ladha said.
On the streets of downtown Edmonton on Tuesday, opinions on what to do were mixed.
“Maybe it might be better to learn at home,” said a grandmother named Francesca.
“If they don’t build up their immunity, they get sick, we get sick and they just need interaction with other kids,” said a mother named Carly who wants the kids to go to school.
In the meantime, teachers, principals and support staff are struggling to keep up.
The president of the Alberta Teachers Association said in some cases classes are being combined due to staffing shortages, which he says will contribute to the spread of viruses.
“We’re not able to get teachers to fill those roles, for substitute teachers to come in, we see other staff having to take the rest of the day off for those absences,” Jason Schilling said.
“Double classes like this isn’t ideal either, as it increases the likelihood of other people getting sick as well.
Some schools will hold virtual Remembrance Day ceremonies in an effort to distribute students.
Fall vacation also begins Friday for both school boards, so there is hope that students and staff can recuperate before returning to class on Nov. 16.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Adam Lachacz, Kyra Markov and Saif Kaisar