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Edmonton Public Schools still finalizing online learning plans as in-person instruction begins

Six-year-old Peyton Denette works remotely from her home in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, March 30, 2020.
Six-year-old Peyton Denette works remotely from her home in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, March 30, 2020. Nathan Denette, The Canadian Press

As students enrolled in in-classroom learning within Edmonton public schools headed back to class Thursday, those who opted for online learning will have to wait a few more days to begin their school year.

The Edmonton Public School Board said it needs more time to work through the “incredibly complex task of organizing students and teachers into online learning groups.”

The school board had hoped to have information regarding remote learning sent to parents and students by Sept. 3, but said some still haven’t heard from their teacher or school yet.

“Our work is still in progress, so we can take the care we need to make sure our staff and students are placed in groups that will most benefit students and their learning,” the school board said in an update to families Wednesday.

Read more: ‘It’s a nervous energy’: Edmonton students head back to school amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The school board expects 90 per cent of families to be connected with their child’s teacher by Friday. Work to finalize the remaining learning groups and assign teachers will continue over the weekend, the school board said, and all students will know who their teacher is by Monday. The first full day of class for those who have opted for online learning will be on Tuesday.

“We want to thank you for the patience and understanding you have shown during this process,” the board said.

“This is work that we have never done before and we take very seriously. We recognize this is a stressful time for families and students, but want to assure you that we care deeply about our online learning environment and the success of our students.”

Read more: Alberta school authorities will see some federal COVID-19 funding in September: LaGrange

About 30 per cent of students enrolled in Edmonton Public Schools chose to learn online this fall. That translates to more than 28,000 students.

In-classroom school begins Thursday with yellow bus delays

Meanwhile, kids who opted to learn inside a classroom had their first day of instruction on Thursday.

Aman Lally dropped off two of his children at Thelma Chalifoux School in southeast Edmonton.

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“In the beginning we were pretty nervous but we’re excited to go back, really happy that it’s opening up,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it’ll be safe. We’re excited.”

Lally admitted it was a bit of a tough decision to choose between in-classroom and online learning, but ultimately felt this was the best choice. He said his family spent time ensuring their kids know how to properly wear a mask, wash their hands often and use sanitizer.

“I wasn’t sure, what should we do? We still have one little one online but he’s still young, Kindergarten, but we knew in our minds we should send them back.”

Thelma Chalifoux School in southeast Edmonton on the first day of school Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.
Thelma Chalifoux School in southeast Edmonton on the first day of school Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. Morgan Black, Global News

The Edmonton Public School Board warned parents that there were busing delays on Thursday morning. The yellow school bus carrier companies experienced some last-minute shifts in the availability of drivers, according to the school board.

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Families were encouraged to find alternative ways to get their kids to and from school on Thursday. Up-to-date information about delayed buses is available on Where’s My Bus? in SchoolZone.

Wednesday was the first day of school for students who attend Edmonton Catholic schools.

Click to play video 'Edmonton Catholic Schools students head back to school amid COVID-19 pandemic' Edmonton Catholic Schools students head back to school amid COVID-19 pandemic
Edmonton Catholic Schools students head back to school amid COVID-19 pandemic