Regina schools, Prairie Valley School Division extend online learning through April 23
REGINA -- Regina Public Schools (RPS), Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) and Prairie Valley School Division (PVSD) announced they are extending remote learning for all students through April 23.
The school divisions said they are are following recommendations from local medical health officers. PVSD added that Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's Chief Medical Health Officer, supports the recommendation.
The moves, announced in news releases Thursday, will keep the three divisions online for an additional two weeks following spring break, due to rising COVID-19 cases and the spread of variants in southern Saskatchewan.
“This is not a decision we make lightly,” Greg Enion, Regina Public Schools Director of Education, said. “We have sought out the advice of local and provincial health authorities, we have listened to our school families, our employees and our Board. We have also consulted with our partners in other Regina-area school divisions."
"This continuation of temporary remote learning is the most prudent and proactive step we can make to minimize the very real COVID-19 health risk to our students, staff, their families and to our Regina communities.”
“The best is always going to be in classroom learning, so we try to do that as long as it’s maintained in a safe way. We have shipped out over 100,000 rapid tests to the school divisions. We have given them the opportunity to be able to make their own decision on the local level,” said Health Minister Paul Merriman.
Work is being done by RPS to try and help students having a tough time with remote learning.
“We are recruiting our existing staff who are not directly involved with teaching to identify and contact students who may be struggling a little bit,” said Terry Lazerou, spokesperson for the Regina Public School Division.
RCSD notified families of the move on Wednesday, in a letter.
"The COVID-19 situation in Regina continues to remain a concern for local health officials and especially in our schools," the letter said. "The Local Medical Health Officers have asked us to continue at Level Four [Remote] learning until April 23."
“The medical health authority reached out and asked us would we consider extending the remote learning period by two weeks,” said Domenic Scuglia, director of education with RCSD.
Scuglia said he knows remote learning can cause extra stress, but this decision is about keeping students and staff safe.
“The variant of concern is rampant in our schools and we need to get it under control if we’re going to turn that corner on overcoming the pandemic,” Scuglia said.
All three divisions plan to have students back in classrooms on April 26, however, that return date is contingent on consultation with local and provincial health authorities.
Regina Public Schools said it hopes the early notification of the extension makes the move easier for families and teachers.
Moose Jaw and Caronport schools also moved to remote learning last week.
SOUTHEAST SASK. SCHOOL DIVISIONS MOVE ONLINE
The South East Cornerstone Public School Division and Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division have opted to move to remote learning for two weeks, following spring break.
"This change is driven by the increasing cases across the south east that have resulted in a significant increase in active cases that are not limited to one geographical area suggesting there is a high risk of community spread," the divisions said in a joint release.
The two divisions said the decision was made jointly with the local medical health officers who support the area.