Yorkton Regional High School is returning to distance learning after the Good Spirit School Division (GSSD) said at least 70 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since school resumed last Tuesday.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at school on Monday, with the decision to go online being taken shortly thereafter, according to Quintin Robertson, division CEO and director of education.
“My question to the three administrators [at Regional High School] was, what would have the least impact on students: doing it the way we do or going remotely? ”he said.
Robertson said when the decision was initially made, 11 classes had been affected by around 60 cases of COVID-19. As of Tuesday morning, 10 more cases were diagnosed and the total number of affected classes rose to 21.
From September to December, the high school – which has about 790 residents – reported 32 cases of COVID-19, Robertson noted.
Now, seeing cases more than double in high school in about a week, Robertson said it shows just how highly transmissible the Omicron variant is.
“We see it in real time,” said Robertson. “If there is a debate about the spread and contagiousness [Omicron] that is, just look at what’s going on in our own school division.
He added that administrators are currently evaluating whether another school in the division (located outside of Yorkton) will also switch to online learning. This decision is expected to be made later this week.
Yorkton Regional High School is switching to online learning / no extracurricular programs until January 24. The Good Spirit School Division is preparing to reassess the situation on January 21.
All Grades 9 to 12 classes at Regional are canceled on Tuesday, with distance education scheduled to start on Wednesday. All extracurricular activities are also paused until the students return to class.
In a letter to students and their families, the GSSD said teachers will continue to take attendance remotely, so absences should be reported as they normally would.
In-person teaching is scheduled to resume on January 24. Families should be safe by the end of the day on Jan.21, according to the letter.