UPDATE: Grades 11 and 12 at Beaverlodge Regional High School are also moving to remote learning this week due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 and the number of staff identified as close contacts. The school will remain open for grade 10 students not identified as close contacts.

Some students at two Peace Country schools will be learning from home over the next week due to COVID-19 cases.

St. Joseph Catholic School is transitioning some grades to online learning from March 29th to April 1st due to what it calls a higher-than-average number of COVID-19 cases in the Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools division and a looming staff shortage. In a letter to families dated March 27th, Superintendent of Schools Karl Germann says students in grades 10, 11, and 12 will study from home until after the Easter long weekend.

“This temporary transition will assist us in keeping students & staff healthy and managing our staff resources, allowing us to keep our elementary schools open and provide adequate substitute coverage prior to the Easter break.”

Students needing a Chromebook to learn online can pick one up from the school on Monday.

Germann is also asking families to do their best to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and health guidelines to help control the spread of the virus in schools. He urges wearing masks, sanitizing, and keeping bubbles tight.

“We too are tired of all the restrictions, but we really need your help! We are managing a higher-than-average number of cases in our Division and are waiting on a number of “unconfirmed test results” this weekend. We anticipate the spread of Covid-19 to continue and to increase in Grande Prairie and area.”

It’s noted that at this rate of infection, the school division is anticipating more classrooms and schools transitioning to online learning after Easter, which could affect youth in all grades.

After two more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed at Hythe Regional School, Peace Wapiti Public School Division has decided to move junior high students to remote learning for the week of March 29th due to the number of staff identified as close contacts. Students identified as close contacts are already isolating due to the previous two cases reported on March 23rd and 25th, but their end dates are being extended by two days.

While students in grades 7, 8, and 9 will study from home, those in junior kindergarten to grade 6 who have not been identified as close contacts will be back in class on Monday. The school has been disinfected.

As of March 26th, there are six schools in the Grande Prairie area Alberta Health says outbreaks of 10 or more cases and four schools with outbreaks of between five and nine. There is one with an alert for between two and four cases.