Alberta NDP suggests using space in churches, community halls for classrooms

Alberta’s NDP is mapping out what capping a class size at 15 would look like when kids return to in-person learning this fall.

Read more: Alberta school boards appreciate federal funding but some ‘disappointed’ by province’s response

Education critic Sarah Hoffman said that’s the best way to ensure physical distancing and limiting the potential of a COVID-19 outbreak.

To achieve that, she suggested the province creatively source out an inventory of vacant spaces to convert into classrooms.

“We have community halls, places of worship, libraries, rec centers throughout the city and province and these spaces weren’t designed to be a school. We are in unusual times,” Hoffman said.

Elementary school teacher Abbey Curzon admitted she’s nervous about managing physical distancing in the classrooms.

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Read more: Symptoms, confirmed cases and outbreaks: How Alberta plans to handle COVID-19 in schools

“I’m concerned. I think outbreaks are going to happen,” Curzon said.

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“We have classes of 30 kids in small spaces and that, to me, seems questionable at this time.”

Colin Aitchison, press secretary for Alberta’s education minister said the province is following medical advice when it comes to the re-entry plan.

Class sizes top concerns regarding Alberta’s school re-entry plan

Class sizes top concerns regarding Alberta’s school re-entry plan

“Today’s stunt by the NDP is another example of their attempts to undermine Dr. Hinshaw’s expert medical advice and promote their non-plan that they know won’t work.

“It is completely infeasible to cap class sizes at 15, as they have proposed. In order to accomplish this, Alberta would need to hire 13,000 teachers by September,” Aitchison said.

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The NDP’s alternative plan comes as the Calgary Board of Education revealed its vision for back to school. The board produced three separate videos for elementary, junior high and high school students. The intent is to show parents and children what to expect come Sept. 1.

There are a lot of familiar protocols and signs, as schools will be mirroring what people have come to recognize in public places.

Read more: Article meant to ease parents back-to-school concerns raises eyebrows

For those not going back into the classroom, the CBE says 16 per cent of the total student enrollment has registered for online learning. The Calgary Catholic School District is reporting close to 10 per cent of its students will be enrolled online.

Alberta will not have limit on class sizes, leaving physical distancing decisions to school divisions

Alberta will not have limit on class sizes, leaving physical distancing decisions to school divisions

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