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Alberta students prepare to head back to the classroom

Last Updated Jan 7, 2021 at 12:33 pm MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – Students and families are getting ready for in-person learning after a week of online classes.

But with concerning numbers in Alberta and a new variant of the virus found in Canada, parents and teachers anticipate pivoting if there are more outbreaks or if schools shut down.

“I am worried, I don’t want COVID, I don’t want my son to have COVID.”

Amy Castro and her family did their best adjusting to at-home learning after the holidays but the Calgary mom is looking forward to in-person classes safely starting up again.

“My husband and I both work out of home. (My son) is only 10 and I didn’t want him to have long periods of time where he wasn’t supervised.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange confirmed on Twitter Monday that students are set to return to in-person classes on Jan. 11.

However, the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) is still concerned.

“I’m worried we are just going to send teachers and other employees in schools and students back into the system and repeat the same cycle we saw in the fall,” said ATA president Jason Schilling. “Kids having to isolate, teachers having to isolate, then in for two weeks out for two weeks.”

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Craig Jenne said low testing numbers could explain the low cases but it’s too early to tell if delaying in-person learning made a difference.

“Our numbers have been variable over the holidays, we have seen a number of days with lower numbers with testing. “If there was viral spread over the holidays those cases will only start showing up at the testing clinics at the end of this week so we really need to keep an eye on the numbers to make a safe decision. ”

Edmonton parent Dave Gray chose at-home learning for his grade 11 daughter after his wife passed away in June.

“We are not taking a risk with our health. I do not want to leave her an orphan at 17.”

Castro admits her family didn’t have a good experience last year with at-home learning but this time around she felt everyone was more prepared, whether they finish the school year in person or back to online.

“I’m comfortable if we have to go back to online learning and not go back to school that we’ll make it work.”