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Elementary school attendance ‘low to medium’

Numbers higher in outlying Algoma district, Huron-Superior board states

It remains to be seen whether Ontario’s elementary and secondary school students will be sent home for solely remote learning after Premier Doug Ford announced a COVID-19 state of emergency for the province Tuesday.    

Previously, with the province in a state of lockdown beginning Dec. 26, and extended Friday, Jan. 8 to last another 14 days (to Jan. 23), the four Sault and area school boards and Algoma Public Health (APH) determined elementary students could decide on in-class or remote learning.

Sault high schools were closed for another 14 days, secondary level instruction to be available only remotely.

A note to parents from the H-SCDSB released Tuesday indicates, for now at least, things will stay that way.   

In the meantime, based on Tuesday’s attendance figures, it looks like most H-SCDSB elementary students are taking the in-class learning route this week.

“It would appear that, in our schools in the north (Chapleau, Hornepayne, Wawa and White River) and the east (Blind River, Elliot Lake, Espanola, Massey), in-person attendance in our elementary schools is approximately 95 per cent,” wrote Rose Burton Spohn, H-SCDSB director of education, in an email to SooToday.

“In our schools in Sault Ste. Marie, in-person attendance for elementary students varies from 33 per cent to 55 per cent. This is only today's attendance; this might or might not shift over the next several days,” Burton Spohn wrote.

“To date, the numbers vary across the city, from as low as below 10 per cent of students in-class, to 50 per cent in-class,” replied Fran Walsh, Algoma District School Board (ADSB) communications officer.

“We are very fortunate that, since November, our elementary students have had the hybrid model - the option of engaging in learning either remotely or in-person - so for many families, the decision was not difficult,” stated Lucia Reece, ADSB director of education.

“We are pleased to be able to accommodate working parents and thankful to those families who are able to support their children learning remotely. Most of all, we are so grateful to our staff, who continue to learn and to try new things with remote learning – they are such great role models and we also appreciate that parents have been patient throughout this new learning,” Reece said.

Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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