Hundreds of Beaverlodge Regional High School, Sexsmith Secondary School and Hythe Regional School junior high students are learning remotely this week due to COVID-19 exposure among students and staff.
HRS remains open for in-person learning for junior kindergarten to Grade 6, according to Peace Wapiti School Division (PWSD).
Grades 11 and 12 at BRHS switched to remote learning Monday while BRHS remains open for Grade 10 in-person learning.
Grades 11 and 12 at SSS also moved to remote learning while SSS remains open for grades 7 to 10 in-person learning.
“With the number of teachers and students who are required to isolate due to close contact with confirmed cases, in-person learning is not possible,” said Angela Sears, PWSD communications officer.
Sears said 221 BRHS students, 189 HRS students and 158 SSS students are impacted by the move to remote learning.
“As parents, we empathize with the affected families in the attendance areas,” said superintendent Bob Stewart.
“We encourage our parents to reach out to their teachers for assistance - for technology access, mental health support, and tips to help keep students engaged during these four days of at-home learning.
“We are all growing weary of adhering to the public health guidance, but we encourage our families now more than ever to help slow the spread by wearing masks, maintaining distance from others, and handwashing and sanitizing.”
The move comes amid reports of cases in Wembley and Clairmont schools as well.
St. Mary's Catholic School in Sexsmith is also on alert at two cases, said Karl Germann, Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools (GPCSD) superintendent.
One case was confirmed at BRHS Sunday, with the decision to move students to remote learning triggered by the number of staff identified as close contacts.
The individual who tested positive for COVID last attended BRHS Thursday, March 25, according to PWSD.
Close contacts were advised to isolate until April 8 if last contact was March 24 and April 9 if last contact was March 25.
Easter break pushes the return-to-school date to April 12, according to PWSD.
HRS is on alert with four COVID cases.
PWSD alerted the public of the first COVID case at HRS last Tuesday, regarding an individual who last attended HRS Thursday, March 18.
Identified close contacts were told to isolate at home until April 2 and return to school April 12.
PWSD confirmed a second HRS case last Thursday, with the individual last attending HRS Tuesday, March 23.
For contact March 22, close contacts’ isolation was to last until April 6, and for March 23, until April 7.
On Sunday PWSD confirmed two additional cases, with the individuals last attending HRS Wednesday, March 24.
Following the move to remote learning, students named as close contacts also had their isolation extended by another two days, according to PWSD.
All junior high students will return to HRS April 12.
A COVID case at Sexsmith Secondary School was confirmed last Friday. The individual last attended SSS Monday, March 22, according to PWSD.
Identified close contacts were instructed to isolate until April 6, with the return-to-school date being April 12.
Remote learning was made available to isolating students.
Three more COVID cases at SSS were confirmed by PWSD Tuesday, leading to the decision to move to remote learning.
The three individuals last attended SSS Friday, March 26 with isolation dates ending Friday, April 9 for close contacts March 25 and Saturday, April 10 for close contacts March 26.
On Saturday a COVID-19 case was also confirmed at Wembley Elementary School. The individual last attended WES Thursday, March 18.
“The case … marks the first time an individual attended the school while infectious,” Sears said.
WES remains open for in-person learning and identified close contacts were given isolation dates to end on different days, depending on last contact.
For those in close contact March 16, isolation ended March 31; for close contact March 17, isolation ends today; and for close contact March 18, isolation ends Friday.
Students isolating until Friday won’t return to WES until April 12.
On Sunday a case was confirmed at Clairmont Community School. The individual last attended Tuesday, March 23.
Close contacts will isolate until April 7 and return to school April 12, according to PWSD.
Two more cases at Clairmont Community School were confirmed by PWSD Tuesday. Students identified as close contacts will return to school April 12.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News