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COVID-19: Edmonton father raises concerns over in-person exams for online Catholic school students

Click to play video 'Online Edmonton Catholic students still have to go to school for exams' Online Edmonton Catholic students still have to go to school for exams
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton father is upset after learning his daughter, who is doing online learning, will still have to physically go into school to write her exams. Sarah Komadina reports.

Edmonton Catholic Schools currently requires students who are taking at-home learning amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to still come into their school to take any exams.

This came as a shock to Greg Stecyk. His daughter is in Grade 11 at Archbishop O’Leary Catholic High School and he said they are both immunocompromised.

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

“It kind of beats the purpose of online learning — [to] take away the stress and anxiety from the parents and the child,” Stecyk said. “I’m disappointed.

“It’s been an ongoing battle for the last week. I keep [expressing] my concerns, and apparently [the school] received an email as of [Tuesday] saying, ‘Regardless of any health concerns or any other concerns, it’s mandatory.'”
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Lori Nagy, a spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools, said this is the only way to ensure “authentic assessment” of a student’s learning. She also said parents and students were told they would have to follow this protocol the beginning of the school year.

“Their only way to do that is to have the student come into the school to actually write an exam in a secure setting,” Nagy said.

“So at this moment, that is what we are asking of students.”

She said students are given options on when to write their exams to help ease the stress. Some of those options include coming in after hours when the building is mostly empty.

“We have been working with families in these situations, and we find that if we can just compromise with the situation or a date that works them, then we will make it work,” Nagy said. “Especially in our study halls where there are very few people and that would limit the exposure to others.”

Stecyk said his family hasn’t received many options on how his daughter can write the test.

“It’s no offence to their cleaning staff or anything, it’s just… I’m not taking the chance,” he said.

Global News reached out to Edmonton Public Schools to learn how they are conducting regular exams for at-home learning students.

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In an email, they said all those students can do class exams online. For provincial achievement exams or diplomas, it is currently required that all students write those tests in person.

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Nagy said while students have to write all their exams at school right now, Edmonton Catholic Schools is working to find a way to test students online.

“In the future, we might offer that as an online option — I would say absolutely — but right now, with online learning being so new, at this point, the only way we can have students write exams is to come into the school,” she said.

Stecyk hopes the school division will offer an online option sooner rather than later.

“The stress and aggravation over it all, it’s nonsense,” he said.