(Fort McMurray, AB, April 16, 2021) In a joint application made to the Ministry of Education yesterday, Fort McMurray Catholic Schools (FMCSD) and Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) requested to move grades 7-12 online from April 19- 30, 2021 due to the continuing increase in COVID-19 numbers as well as staff and students in isolation. The request was approved today.
“We all agree in school is the best place for learning. But the overall COVID-19 numbers in Fort McMurray right now are very worrisome. We need to bend this curve and we believe that moving grade 7-12 students in this area to virtual learning for two weeks will help. It will also help limit some stress on many families because we know isolation is difficult. There are 10 weeks left in our school year, we implore the entire region to work together to help get our students to the finish line,” says Fort McMurray Catholic Schools Superintendent George McGuigan
Jennifer Turner, Superintendent, FMPSD, thanked the Ministry for their support noting it’ll help alleviate staffing challenges for both divisions.
“A coordinated approach between both school divisions, for one cycle of isolation, is intended to serve as a necessary circuit breaker for the 10 schools across both divisions who have more than one case. We believe a shift to virtual learning for our grade 7-12 students will most likely give us enough substitute teachers to maintain safe staffing levels at our elementary schools,” Superintendent Turner said.
In the last two weeks there have been over 600 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Fort McMurray. Approximately 18% of the population of our entire region has deep ties to Fort McMurray Catholic and Public Schools (students and staff). This does not include parents of students and non-school age siblings.
Absenteeism rates in Fort McMurray Public School Division grade 7-12 schools have averaged 47% this week upon our return from Easter Break. (This includes positive cases of COVID, close contacts, and parent support absence due to concern about positivity rate in the community). Absenteeism rates in Fort McMurray Catholic School Division grade 7-12 schools have averaged 30-35% this week upon our return from Easter break.