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Edmonton parents, educators concerned over return to school as Omicron cases rise

Click to play video: 'Edmonton school board, teachers and parents concerned over lack of back to school information as Omicron cases rise' Edmonton school board, teachers and parents concerned over lack of back to school information as Omicron cases rise
Thousands of students are heading back to school in Edmonton next week, but with the rising spread of the Omicron variant, many parents and teachers are wondering what classes will look like. Chris Chacon has more – Dec 29, 2021

Thousands of students are heading back to school in Edmonton next week, but with the rising spread of the Omicron variant — many parents and teachers are wondering what classes will look like.

“We have zero information, I’m really hoping there isn’t a change at the last second,” Michelle Henderson who has three students who attend Edmonton Public Schools said.

Henderson is a single mother and said whether the province will maintain in-class learning or move everything online — she just wants to know beforehand.

“It’s always chaos when it’s all last minute or they let know the day before.”

“It’s horrible for everybody’s mental health, the kids haven’t been prepared everyone that has employers or that needs childcare are scrambling at the last minute,” Henderson said.

Edmonton Public Schools board chair Trisha Estabrooks said the board is also looking for further clarity from the province but at the moment wouldn’t mind an online return.

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Read more: 78% of Edmonton public schools have COVID-19 cases; ‘We have an incomplete picture’

“There will be a number of staff shortages, a number of jobs that won’t be able to be filled because our teachers, our educational assistants, our custodians, everyone that works in schools is likely going to be sick,” Estabrooks said.

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney said the province would like to maintain in-class learning but details are still being worked out and more information will be released later this week. Not good enough for educators working on the front lines.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Alberta Premier Kenney says decision on pausing in-classroom learning could come later this week' COVID-19: Alberta Premier Kenney says decision on pausing in-classroom learning could come later this week
COVID-19: Alberta Premier Kenney says decision on pausing in-classroom learning could come later this week – Dec 28, 2021

“If we’re going to move school online for the next couple of weeks, nobody had the chance to prepare before the holidays and so you will see teachers, school parents and students scrambling to make it happen,” Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling said.

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Estabrooks added if the province decides to maintain in-class learning, she hopes funding will be made available to improve ventilation, personal protective equipment (PPE) and make test kits readily available.

“These are tough times and I just hope we can get some clarity and we can support our kids and our staff and parents as we move forward,” Estabrooks said.

A clarity Henderson also hopes to get soon.

“It makes me feel a little bit anxious that we don’t know what’s going on, I’d like to plan our month, plan my work and our lives in general,” Henderson said.

Click to play video: 'Back to school: Classes to start late in phased return due to COVID-19' Back to school: Classes to start late in phased return due to COVID-19
Back to school: Classes to start late in phased return due to COVID-19 – Dec 29, 2021

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