March 26, 2020
Earlier this month, the province cancelled classes and closed daycares in Alberta to help contain the spread of COVID-19. We still don’t know when classes will resume, but we are expecting this to be the new normal for the near future.
This is a time of great uncertainty for parents, students, staff and our school communities. I know it is especially difficult for parents who cannot work from home and need to find childcare. But let me be clear, your Board of Trustees supports the government’s decision. It was a difficult choice, but it was the right move to make sure students, staff and families all remain as safe and healthy as possible during this unprecedented public health crisis.
By closing schools we are proactively helping slow the spread of coronavirus. As I have said to my own children, by not attending school they are doing their part in helping thousands of Edmontonians remain healthy.
Although students are home, staff are continuing to work as long as they are healthy. For many staff, this now means working from home as a result of the provincial state of emergency. But whether they’re at home or in a school, teachers, educational assistants, curriculum consultants and other staff are working on developing options for students to continue learning at home. We’re still working out exactly what this will look like, but we hope to provide more information soon. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’d like to thank staff who have made personal phone calls to families and who continue to provide guidance and leadership through these challenging times.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange has indicated that all students will receive final marks this year and will continue to progress to the next grade. Most provincial assessments, like provincial achievement tests, will be cancelled. Diploma exams have also been cancelled, but every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. Under special circumstances, students can request to write a diploma exam. Students wishing to do so should speak to their teacher and school administrator.
I know you have many questions. This is an unprecedented situation and we still do not have all the answers. Right now, we’re asking for your patience as we continue to work through this developing situation and come up with solutions to keep providing students with a high quality education that meets the provincial curriculum.
I can assure you that we will continue to provide updates about classes, student learning and our response to the COVID-19 situation through SchoolZone and our public website. You can also find updates on the Division’s Facebook and Twitter channels.
I also encourage you to talk to your children about how they are feeling. Be open and honest. Reassure them that it’s okay to feel worried and that missing their friends, teachers and the routine of attending school is a natural reaction to a very strange situation. Let them know that you are there to listen and acknowledge that you may not have all the answers to their questions.
Again, I know this is a difficult situation for a lot of families. I want to thank you for your patience and understanding, and I want to remind you that nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our students, staff and families. This includes mental health. If you or your child are having trouble coping with this situation, you can call Alberta’s Mental Health Help Line 24 hours a day at 1-877-303-2642.