By Cole Parkinson
School divisions across the province have been cancelled indefinitely due to COVID-19. With the announcement coming down on Sunday evening, Horizon School Division schools won’t be seeing students in them for the foreseeable future.
“The province is implementing aggressive new measures given that we now have community transmission of COVID-19 occurring in Alberta. Students will no longer be attending school until further notice,” reads a post on Horizon’s Facebook page. “More information will be forthcoming about students learning. Expectations at this time is that staff will continue to work in an adapted reality to ensure student’s learning is achieved.”
Horizon also states ‘students will be getting a final mark and progressing to a higher grade next year while Grade 6 and 9 Provincial tests will be cancelled but Diplomas may occur (only the essential ones for post-secondary).’
While this certainly puts a new hurdle in front of the division, Horizon has expressed confidence in their staff moving through this difficult time.
In a letter sent to Horizon staff and the Taber Times, superintendent of schools Wilco Tymensen highlights a few things the division will be pursuing in the next several weeks.
“I want to start off by saying thank you to each and every one of you during what I know has been a difficult and extremely anxious time. Information has been flowing so quickly these last few days that it has been difficult to provide up to date information. This unprecedented situation is likely one of the biggest challenges ever faced in our province,” reads the letter from Tymensen. “As we deal with this ever-evolving situation, I know that because of your commitment and expertise our students remain in good hands, even though they will not be in our schools for the foreseeable future. It is in times of greatest challenge, that people rise to the occasion and share their strength. Your strengths are what make our school division such a great place.”
A Horizon professional day was already scheduled on March 16 which meant staff had a paid day of absence.
Moving past that date, the letter highlighted that staff are ‘required to work during this extended period of cancelled classes and will be paid as the ministry assured school divisions that this year’s provincial funding would not be impacted by school class cancellations.’
Staff who were ill or self-isolating due to international travel were asked to not report to work on March 17 and any staff who become ill in the next several weeks or any who are ordered to self-isolate will be paid.
“Ours is challenging work at the best of times. Your patience, compassion and care have been a gift to one another, our students and our community,” continued the letter. “We are stronger together. Take care of yourself and your families, so that you can take care of our students. Be well.”
For more information on COVID-19 related news in Alberta, visit alberta.ca/COVID-19.