All pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 students will begin full-time remote learning on Dec. 14 with the plan of returning to class on Jan. 11.
The announcement came in the form of a letter sent to parents and media on Dec. 7.
“The decision, locally-made by Regina Public Schools, to move to remote learning for all students, is a proactive intervention to ensure safe continued learning for students, for the health of all student and employee families, and for the ongoing business continuity of the School Division and its schools,” the letter read.
Regina Public Schools staff will continue to work in schools and offices.
“Teachers and school-based staff will provide on-going online learning coursework and resources for all students to continue their learning for the week of Dec. 14 and Jan. 4 with the scheduled holiday break taking place from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1,” the letter read.
Regina Public Schools said that it hopes the lockdown doesn’t last past Jan. 11, and that it believes the decision to close is the right one.
“Regina Public Schools is on the verge of a significant staffing and learning challenge,” said Greg Enion, Regina Publis Schools’ director of education.
“We have had to close entire classes and schools overnight, often with less than 12 hours’ notice for parents and guardians. We have been challenged to replace teachers, educational assistants, and other staff who test positive or must self-isolate.
“We are also acutely aware that if in-school classes were to continue up until the scheduled December 21st holiday break, we could very likely see students and staff having to quarantine away from their families over the entire holiday period. This causes great concern.”
As of Dec. 7, Regina Public Schools has seen 63 students and 26 staff test positive for COVID-19 while 39 of 57 schools have been affected with 56 classrooms having to close.
Eight elementary schools have closed along with one collegiate.
Regina Public Schools said it has been dealing with a “chronic shortfall” of replacement staff due to employees being sick.
Growing anxiety among staff and students, along with other mental health challenges, has been present within the schools.
“Based on our data, this move is required to support our staff and students,” said Adam Hicks, Regina Board of Education chairperson.
“We hope this plan will give school families the peace of mind that students will continue their learning and will not get sick at school, or be identified as a close contact and have to be quarantined from their loved ones over the holiday period.”
To date, more than 1,100 employee absence days have been taken due to quarantine leave.