Susan Thompson

South Peace News

Days after news broke that six schools in La Crete were exempt from moving to online classes to help stop a spike of COVID-19 cases, two of the schools have already moved to at-home learning.

Most K to 12 schools in the province moved to online learning from home May 7.

Six schools in La Crete were exempt as part of a larger exemption for Mennonite and Hutterite schools in Alberta.

Nicole Sparrow, the Minister of Education’s press secretary, says the exemption makes no distinction between Old Colony and other Mennonite schools.

At least one teacher at a Hutterite school near Stetter confirmed that their school was also exempt, but the minister’s office has not been able to provide a list of all exempt schools to media, saying the school divisions have that information.

Of the exempt La Crete schools, Buffalo Head Prairie and Hill Crest Community both shifted to at-home learning this week.

Sources in the community who wish to remain anonymous say the change was due to COVID cases confirmed in teaching staff.

Exempt schools are still subject to a shift to at-home learning if a COVID case is found.

Sparrow says, “If there is a COVID-19 case in school, the school operations will be evaluated by the school authority and Alberta Education.”

When reached May 12, a representative at the Hill Crest Community School in Blumenort confirmed classes were moved to at-home learning on May 10 due to a COVID case.

The Buffalo Head Prairie office also confirmed classes were moved largely to at-home learning this week. When asked if it was due to a COVID case, the school office said they could not say anymore at this point.

Neither school is currently listed on the provincial list of school alerts [2-4 cases] or outbreaks [five cases or more].

Five other schools in Mackenzie County are still listed under outbreak status. They include Rainbow Lake School, High Level Public School, Spirit of the North Community School, Florence MacDougall Community School, and Fort Vermilion Public School.

A total of 911 Alberta schools are currently listed as on alert or outbreak status.