Yorkton Regional High School is returning to remote learning after the Good Spirit School Division (GSSD) says at least 70 COVID-19 cases were reported since classes resumed last Tuesday.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the school Monday, with the decision to move online made shortly after, according to Quintin Robertson, the division's CEO and director of education.
"My question to the three administrators [at Regional High School] was, what would be least impactful on students: proceeding the way that we are or moving to remote?" he said. "The response very quickly was, 'We need to move to remote.'"
Robertson said that when the decision was initially made, 11 classes had been impacted by about 60 COVID-19 cases. By Tuesday morning, another 10 cases were diagnosed and the total of classes affected spiked to 21.
From September to December, the high school — which has a population of around 790 — reported 32 COVID-19 cases, Robertson noted.
Now, seeing cases more than double at the high school in roughly a week, Robertson said it goes to show how highly transmissible the Omicron variant is.
"We're seeing it in real time," Robertson said. "If there's ever any debate about the spread and how contagious [Omicron] is, one just needs to look at what's happening in our own school division."
He added that administrators are currently assessing whether another school in the division (located outside of Yorkton) will be moving to online learning as well. That decision is expected to be made later this week.
All grade 9 to 12 classes at Regional are cancelled on Tuesday, with remote instruction to begin on Wednesday. All extra-curricular activities are also on pause until students return to class.
In a letter to students and their families, GSSD said classroom teachers will continue to take attendance remotely, so absences are expected to be reported as they normally would.
In-person instruction is tentatively scheduled to resume on Jan. 24. Families should know for certain by the end of the day on Jan. 21, the letter said.