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Thousands of Calgary Catholic students sign up for online learning

Last Updated Aug 19, 2020 at 4:19 pm MDT

The Calgary Catholic School Centre, the basis of the Catholic schools in the city in Calgary on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. This building is the operation that helps run any of the Catholic schools in its district. (PHOTO: Chelsey Harms, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — As some parents and students are anxious about returning to classrooms this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) has seen thousands of people sign up for online learning.

With demand so high, the board will also be introducing another registration period next month.

“We know that our parents have expressed an interest for us to consider either extending the deadline or having another opportunity to register for online education,” said Chief Superintendent Dr. Bryan Szumlas. “We’re going to be embracing that feedback and we will have a second registration period in September.”

Szumlas said more details will be coming about that registration period, as well as options for students in French immersion.

Students currently have until Friday, August 21 to sign up for online classes, and as of Tuesday afternoon nearly 5,000 students had enrolled.

The vast majority are in grades 1 to 9, with about a further 800 high school students signing up as well. Szumlas added that among grades 1 to 9, enrolment levels are fairly steady throughout the grades without one year being over or under represented.

There are two separate online schools catering to at-home learning. St. Isidore will accept grade 1 to 9 students, while high school students will receive education through St. Anne’s Academic Centre. Overall, out of more than 60,000 students enrolled in the CCSD, this online number represents around seven per cent of the population.

Unlike the Calgary Board of Education — which has online registration until August 24 — students in the Catholic system will have to remain online for the full year. Szumlas said this is because the curriculums may be different, and there could be repetition if a student decided to go back into the classroom.

“Imagine for a second if a child was in online education, they’re getting taught these units, and then halfway through the year they go back into a face-to-face environment, they may end up doing the exact same unit over again because the different teacher may have that as part of their plan,” he said.

There will be counselling available for both students and parents through the process in case they are experiencing any challenges, including technology issues.

The CBE has said they will not release details of their online enrolment numbers until after the year has started.

In a statement emailed to 660 NEWS, the CBE said there are no plans to extend the registration deadline past 4 p.m. on August 24, and there will be a transition point — either from online to in-class or vice versa — for February 1, 2021. More information on that transition will be provided in the fall.