Schools stay open despite new cases of COVID-19

Government following new variant cases very closely: Dr. Deena Hinshaw addresses the province on Feb 10. to speak about the rising number of cases in Alberta schools.

Cases of the new more contagious variants of COVID-19 continue to spread in Alberta as teachers and parents reflect on how they feel about children resuming in-person education.

As of Wednesday, Feb. 10, there has been a reported 16 new variant cases in the province of Alberta. This comes from the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who addressed the province on Wednesday to speak about these outbreaks.

“There are currently alerts or outbreaks in 303 schools, about 13 percent, of schools in the province. Currently these schools have a combined total of 867 cases since January 11,” says Hinshaw.

Despite these numbers and the severe effects that the new strain could have on the province teachers and parents remain optimistic and want to keep kids in school.

Chantal Templeman a physical education teacher at Bow Valley High School in Cochrane, thinks that children learn more than just math and science at school and that it’s the social interaction that is vital for school kids.

“There’s so many informal things that they learn in person like; how do you interact with somebody in the classroom in a positive way when you’re annoyed with them?” said Templeman.

It goes beyond even social situations when one considers the son of working mom Shawna Sorenson, who has dyslexia.

Sorenson reflects on how when her son was forced to do home-schooling, he struggled immensely.

“Whether it’s a tablet or computer screen it’s extremely difficult for him to be able to follow versus a paper copy and having a ruler and being able to go line by line,” said Sorenson.

Sorenson said that her son was not able to focus because of his dyslexia and trouble with reading from a screen so she had to be with him all the time when he had online classes.

Sorenson also has a 15-year-old daughter that attends high school in Cranston and she personally has no issues with her daughter returning to school.

“I’m not too concerned because the school has done an absolutely amazing job at their routine level with the kids and sanitization within the school but it would be nice if they could decrease the class sizes from a class of 32, maybe down to the class of 24,” said Sorenson.

Optimistic mom of two: Shawna Sorenson is not concerned about her children attending school as she feels it is necessary for kids to be attending school. (Photo by Michaela Pitman/The Press)

Templeman comments on this and says that the high school she works at has some rather contradictory rules when it comes to wearing masks.

Templeman says that the school has done a good job and had no outbreaks thus far. She thinks it has to do with the schools seating plan. Seating plans are really big this year so that contact tracing can be more efficient however some other rules are completely contradictory.

“Alberta Health has said that masks aren’t mandatory during physical activity. If you’re sitting in a math class with 20 people, you’re all wearing your mask and you’re trying to be spaced out but then the next period you can go to phys ed and there’s over 80 people in the gym, nobody’s wearing a mask and they’re playing basketball,” said Templeman

These are the holes in the system which she thinks could lead to an outbreak at the school.

However, despite this Templeman is still pro attending school as she thinks it is very important for the social development of especially younger high school children.

As the new variant of COVID-19 remains present in the province with fears of it spreading parents and teachers can follow the COVID-19 school status map on the website.

About Michaela Pitman 7 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Michaela Pitman is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021 academic year.