Thousands of Edmonton Catholic students haven’t registered for in-person or online learning as school year starts Wednesday

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The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) has been raising concerns for weeks over class sizes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Alberta’s Opposition NDP has called for a cap of 15 students.

One quarter of respondents to a weekend ATA survey of about 2,000 members said their largest classes would be between 30 to 40 students – making physical distancing a significant, if not impossible, challenge.

About one third said at the time they did not know what their teaching assignments were for the year.

On Monday, Edmonton Public School Board penned a letter to Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, after she signed a weekend health order that says schools do not need to enforce physical distancing when students are sitting in classrooms.

“Despite your order issue on August 29, our main concern is our inability to physically distance students in our buildings,” says the letter signed by chairwoman Trisha Estabrooks.

Heather McPherson, federal NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona, also wrote a letter Monday to Premier Jason Kenney, saying she is worried about the health and safety of her two children who are returning to school and urging him to adopt the ATA’s recommendations, including for smaller class sizes.

McPherson expressed concerns about where the federal government’s $262.8 million in safe school funding will go.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange will announce how that money will be spent on Wednesday.


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