Moose Jaw, Caronport schools moving to remote learning due to rising COVID-19 variant cases
File Image. (Gareth Dillistone/CTV News)
REGINA -- About 4,000 elementary and high school students in Moose Jaw and Caronport will be learning from home starting next week as COVID-19 variant of concern cases grow in the area.
"It’s really evident to me in the last couple of days that this is a completely different thing than what we’ve been used to since the beginning of September and so that’s what precipitated the decision," Tony Baldwin, Director of Education for the Prairie South School Division (PSSD), told CTV News on Friday.
Prairie South School Division (PSSD) is moving all of its schools in Moose Jaw and Caronport Elementary School to remote learning starting on Monday.
The division has had 10 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant reported in its schools in the past two days, which is more cases than it had in the 38 days prior to that and about 20 per cent of the total cases in the division since the start of the school year.
"It’s been a pretty significant jump for us," Baldwin said.
The Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD) will also be moving its Moose Jaw schools to remote learning starting on Tuesday. Students are off on Monday.
HTCSD hasn’t had a reported case since the start of March and only had 15 cases, but felt this was the best decision to make to keep students and staff safe.
"We recognize the increasing prevalence of the variant of concern and the medical health officials have indicated just how quickly this moving through any school settings, so in consideration of that we felt very confident that it was the right decision to move to remote learning," Sean Chase, Director of Education for Holy Trinity, said.
Moose Jaw and area has seen a rise in variant cases this week with 63 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant detected through screening and another 31 found in sequencing in the South Central zone, as of Thursday. This is the second most in the province behind Regina.
Both school divisions are planning for a return to in-person learning after the Easter break.
"We’ll continue to monitor the risk assessment with the fine folks at Public Health and hope that we’re able to come back to school in a face-to-face environment, which is always the preference, for Apr. 12," Chase said.
The Regina Public, Catholic and Prairie Valley school divisions have also made the move to remote learning due to increasing spread of variants in the region.