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Online learning could lead to larger class sizes, say advocates

FILE - In this March 20, 2020 file photo, Palmcroft Elementary School students in Jennifer Hartley's second-grade class are seen on the computer screen during an instructional session via the Internet in Yuma, Ariz. (Randy Hoeft/The Yuma Sun via AP, File)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Despite the first week of school coming to an end, some concerns still linger.

As teachers are being moved last minute from teaching physical classes to online learning, there’s worry class sizes may start to increase.

A source tells 660 NEWS that at least one Calgary school already increased classroom sizes and mixed grades together in order to get enough teachers to handle the online learning hub.

Medina Moussa with Support Our Students (SOS) said between class sizes increasing and the uncertainty of PPE in the future, schools may end up closing again.

“I would be really surprised if we get to go through a whole year of school. I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t see how they’re going to be able to manage that many students in that small a space. It’s just not adequate.”

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She added she’s especially concerned for some high schools which could be overcrowded.

The Calgary Board of Education said over 21,000 students enrolled for the online learning hub as of the end of August, while Edmonton public schools said about 30 per cent of its students will go virtual.

Moussa said she’s heard from many parents who are worried about class sizes and how the school year will progress during the pandemic.

“Are the measures that we are putting in going to be sufficient to keep us in school? I think that is, definitely, an undercurrent for all parents right now.”

Of the $262 million the Alberta government received from the feds, about $12 million will go to virtual learning costs.

Groups like SOS Alberta and the NDP have called on the government to do more to reduce class sizes this year.

The Opposition has even asked the UCP to cap class sizes, something the premier has said would require thousands of more teachers and hundreds of more classrooms to be built.