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Moose Jaw schools still learning in person despite climbing COVID-19 cases

Hundreds of students in Regina are moving to online learning because of high COVID-19 cases and staff shortages, but such situations don’t yet appear to be affecting the Moose Jaw area.
kids classrooms
Kids in the classroom. File photo/Shutterstock

Hundreds of students in Regina are moving to online learning because of high COVID-19 cases and staff shortages, but such situations don’t yet appear to be affecting the Moose Jaw area. 

There were 526 self-reported coronavirus cases across the Regina Public School Division from Jan. 10 to 14, including 53 school staff, which forced seven classrooms to move online, according to the division. Meanwhile, all eight high schools will move online from Jan. 20 to 24. 

No information was available by press time about how the Regina Catholic School Division is doing or possible changes.

Holy Trinity Catholic School Division

In Moose Jaw, Jan. 18 was the first time this year that Holy Trinity Catholic School Division had to redeploy consultants and co-ordinators because of a shortage of teachers, said education director Ward Strueby. However, a day later, classrooms were backed to being fully staffed. 

“Overall, (Jan. 18) was a bit of a challenge to get supports in place, but we have a very nimble staff here and we had teachers that were ready to go and support staff ready to go to support our kids,” he remarked. 

Since Christmas, the pandemic has forced three classes to move online. Furthermore, 154 students and staff have contracted COVID-19, which the education director thought was too high.

“From a division office here, we’ve decided to take that pressure off our schools, and we’ve done the contact tracing and notifying close contacts,” Strueby said. “That definitely does add some work, but … we want to do all we can to keep staff and students safe in our school division.”

Holy Trinity will continue to do its best in the short-term with staffing, which includes working with the Ministry of Education and local health officials, he continued. The division is committed to offering in-person learning until higher COVID-19 cases force it to move classes online. 

“The magic happens when our students are with our staff members in the classroom, and definitely for mental health and well-being of our kids, that’s the place we want to be,” Strueby added. “But we also need to manage that and ensure our staff and students are safe.”  

Prairie South School Division

Since Jan. 6, COVID-19 has infected 176 students and 16 staff while one classroom at Prince Arthur School has been forced to learn from home, according to education director Ryan Boughen.

“It’s around us and it’s definitely in our schools. We’re not at a place right now where we think our high schools are in jeopardy of not being able to move forward with final exams,” he said. 

The weather has been more challenging lately than the pandemic since buses did not operate on Jan. 17 or 19 because of the cold, Boughen continued. A.E. Peacock was most affected because many of its students arrive by those vehicles. 

Boughen praised teachers for doing a great job of ensuring in-person learning happens smoothly. He noted that the division office regularly speaks to high school principals, who say their students are concerned about being forced online since that affects their learning. 

When there are COVID-19 cases in classes, superintendents and the division monitor those classrooms and the health of the teacher and students. If more students are out sick than in class, the division will move that room online.

“When we’re making these decisions, we’re often learning that it’s better for our kids to be in school around adults (because) they’ve missed a lot of school in the past two years … ,” said Boughen. “We’re hopeful that we get out of this sometime soon.”