Edmonton Public Schools seeing 'significant increase' in COVID-19 cases in last week: superintendent

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Edmonton’s public schools are seeing a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases, the division’s superintendent said Tuesday.

Twenty-seven schools have had COVID-19 cases since April 1, and 33 students and five staff have been infected, superintendent Darrel Robertson told trustees at an Edmonton Public Schools board meeting. The cases have forced nearly 900 students and 115 staff to quarantine, he said.

“I would say the majority of those cases are actually within the last week, so I can confirm we’re seeing a significant increase in the last week in cases of COVID-19 in our schools,” he said.

“We’re presuming those are variant cases now and they’re proceeding accordingly with their contact tracing and instructions around quarantining.”

Meantime, the district expects enrolment will be up by 2.7 per cent, or 2,746 students, for the next school year. Total enrolment is expected to be 105,742 students for the 2021/22 school year, according to a staff report.

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Robertson said division funding for the next school year is relatively stable, but if emergency COVID-19 funds were not provided, they would have lost $15 million to $17 million based on the new enrolment funding model based on a weighted moving average. He also said they are waiting to see how the changes to program unit funding (PUF) will impact the division.

The district will also be asking the province for permission to use $22.5 million of its operating reserves. This would include an expected $8 million for more staff including online teachers, COVID-19-related resources like PPE and cleaning supplies, to develop online resources, and to support efforts to address systemic racism.

It also plans to launch the high social vulnerability achievement pilot for the “most socially vulnerable communities” by focusing on early intervention, literacy and numeracy instruction, social and emotional well-being, nutrition and other programming, according to a staff report.

More to come…

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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