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Alberta

Big news for Alberta’s students in pandemic update from Minister LaGrange

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Helping students catch up after pandemic disruption

As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, up to $45 million will support younger students who have fallen behind during the pandemic and more flexibility will be provided for students writing diploma exams.

Supporting reading, writing and numeracy skills for early learners

In May 2021, Alberta’s government announced $45 million would be available for school authorities to offer targeted programming to enhance literacy and numeracy skills.

School authorities have completed learning assessments to identify students who could benefit from targeted programming and now funds will be distributed at a per-student rate of $490.

School authorities have the flexibility to use this funding to design programming to best meet the needs of their students. Programming will be above and beyond classroom learning. The initial focus will be on students in grades 2 and 3, with targeted support for students in Grade 1 starting in February 2022.

“Many Alberta students had their education disrupted during the pandemic, which resulted in lost classroom and instruction time. We are committed to addressing this learning loss, and this funding will support students who need extra help to improve their reading, writing and numeracy skills. This grant gives school authorities the funds and flexibility they need to ensure each student is successful.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“This $45 million for student learning is welcome news as school boards continue to face a variety of unique challenges due to the pandemic. This will help boards support recovery from long-term effects of learning loss, based on local needs.”

Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards Association

“AISCA is thankful that the Government of Alberta is recognizing and addressing learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our association appreciates that the government has taken a proactive approach to remediate and target learning challenges in the early years of a student’s development.”

Simon Williams, president, Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta

Diploma exams

In response to feedback from students, parents and education partners about stress and anxiety around academic achievement exams, Alberta Education will temporarily change the weighting of diploma exams to 10 per cent from 30 per cent for the 2021-22 school year.

The ministers of Advanced Education and Education have sent an open letter to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to advise them of this change and encourage them to further consider the impact the pandemic has had on students who are applying to their post-secondary institutions.

“Alberta’s students continue to face challenges due to the pandemic and I have heard concerns for our graduating class of 2022. I’ve heard feedback from students on my Minister’s Youth Council as well as from education partners that changing the weight of diploma exams will reduce the burden on students while still giving them valuable exam writing experience. We’re making this temporary change in recognition of these circumstances, which we hope will place less of a burden on these students.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“The College of Alberta School Superintendents is pleased with the Alberta government’s commitment to provide additional funding to support school divisions with addressing Grade 1 to 3 student learning challenges stemming from the pandemic. We’re also grateful for the Minister’s decision to reduce the weighting of diploma exams as it will support Grade 12 students whose learning has also been adversely impacted.”

Wilco Tymensen, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents

“As a member of the Minister’s Youth Council, it pleases me to see the Minister taking our feedback and concerns into consideration. As a Grade 12 student, the experience of writing diplomas is essential to prepare us for success as we consider post-secondary. Reducing the weighting of the exams will lessen the impact on mental health in youth while still ensuring that students are motivated to learn and understand the critical value of our education despite the effects of the pandemic.”

Tacey, member of the Minister’s Youth Council, Parkland School Division

At-home rapid tests

Alberta’s government is continuing to use all available tools to stop the spread of COVID-19. Beginning Oct. 27, at-home rapid test kits will be provided to schools with kindergarten to Grade 6 students across the province that are on outbreak status. The program is optional, free, and starts immediately.

Schools will provide the students and staff who wish to participate with 10 tests to take home, and they will be required to test twice weekly for five weeks. Testing regularly ensures testing is most effective. A how-to video for parents and a fact sheet translated into multiple languages offer tips on how to use the kits.

Quick facts

Programming support:

  • Of the up to $45 million in learning loss supports, approximately $30 million will be invested now to benefit students in grades 2 and 3. In response to feedback received from school authorities, up to $15 million will be allocated to students in Grade 1 in February 2022.
  • With this funding, in grades 2 and 3, approximately 38,000 students will receiving literacy programing and approximately 25,000 will receive numeracy programming, recognizing that some students would qualify for both supports. The number of Grade 1 program opportunities will be available after assessments in the new year.
  • Focused programming sessions are intended to be provided for up to 16 weeks. School authorities have the flexibility to design the length and frequency of the programming sessions.
  • Funds will be distributed on a per-student basis with a minimum funding amount based on the number of eligible students per school.

At-home rapid tests:

  • If a student or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19, they should not use a rapid test. They should stay home and book a test online with the Alberta Health Services (AHS) assessment tool or by calling 811.
  • Schools on outbreak must submit a request to Alberta Health to receive tests for this program.
  • If a student or staff member has a positive rapid test result, they must isolate for 10 days or until they have a negative test through AHS.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Bedard shines, host Canada downs Latvia 5-2 at world junior hockey championship

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EDMONTON — Team Canada needed some time to shake off the rust as they embarked on a late-summer campaign for gold.

Coming into their first game of the world junior hockey championship in Edmonton, many on the squad hadn’t laced up their skates for a competitive bout in several months.

The time away showed at moments, but Canada held on for a 5-2 victory over Latvia to open the tournament on Wednesday.

“I know a coach is never happy with the game, but considering the time of year and where we’re at in this tournament, I think it was good.” said head coach Dave Cameron.

The 2022 tournament is being held in August after the original iteration was called off on Dec. 29 after just four days as rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials forced games to be forfeited.

Teen phenom Connor Bedard hasn’t played a “real game” in three months, and said getting back to competition felt good.

The 17-year-old was quick to show his offensive prowess, opening the scoring in the first period and adding an assist on a second-period power-play goal.

“It always feels good to score, especially that first one of the tournament,” said Bedard, an early favourite to go first overall in the 2023 NHL entry draft.

“I think it’s always exciting no matter who gets it. So definitely felt good. And it was cool to kind of be going to the corner and seeing some fans.”

Ridly Greig and William Dufour each had a goal and a helper for Canada (1-0-0), while Lukas Cormier and Olen Zellweger also scored. Captain Mason McTavish notched two assists.

Rainers Darzins and Bogdans Hodass put away goals for the Latvians, who were coming off a 6-1 drubbing by Finland on Tuesday.

Canada’s Sebastian Cossa made 22 saves and Patriks Berzins stopped 39 of 44 shots for Latvia (0-2-0).

The Canadians broke out with a three-goal performance in the second but found themselves in trouble in the final frame due to a series of undisciplined penalties.

Latvia got nine seconds of five-on-three play midway through the third when Greig was called for hooking after Kent Johnson had already been sent to the box for delay of game.

The Canadians weathered being down two men and Cossa preserved the advantage with a collection of timely stops.

Earlier in the period, Latvia cut the deficit to 4-2 on a power play after Greig was called for tripping.

Just four seconds into the man advantage, Hodas — a Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman — ripped a shot off from the top of the faceoff circle, sailing the puck over Cossa’s pad.

Dufour gave the Canadians some breathing room with 5:16 to go in the third period. The New York Islanders prospect collected a slick pass from Greig and sent a quick shot in past Berzins to give his side a 5-2 lead.

Greig capped a big middle frame by collecting a pass from Dufour along the boards for an odd-man rush and streaking up the ice, using one arm to hold back Latvia’s Peteris Purmalis. With his free hand, the Ottawa Senators prospect poked the puck in past Berzins at the 17:16 mark to give Canada a 4-1 lead.

“It was a pretty lucky bounce,” Greig said. “And the tracker was right on me so I just tried to get it on net with one (hand).”

A power-play goal gave the Canadians a three-goal lead after Latvia captain Ralfs Bergmanis was called for slashing.

Bedard set up the play with a no-look backwards pass to Zellweger at the blue line. The defenceman wound up and fired a rocket through traffic, finding the back of the net 16:17 into the second.

Minutes earlier, Cormier scored with the man advantage after Dans Locmelis was called for roughing.

Joshua Roy calmed a bouncing puck and dished it to Cormier, who sent it sailing past Berzins from the top of the faceoff circle.

Canada’s power play looked to be in trouble on its first attempt of the tournament earlier in the period.

The man advantage saw Cossa nearly send a puck into his own net while trying to clear and Johnson come within inches of scoring an own goal. The host nation turned the puck over multiple times and Latvia registered a pair of short-handed shots.

“That was just to give the fans their money’s worth,” Cameron said.

“That was at the time where we were in their zone for a period of time five on five and we thought that was going to carry over into the power play and we got too comfortable and we thought it was going to be easy.

“We stalled in our execution and hats off to Latvia, they didn’t give up.”

The Canadians went 2 for 4 on the power play Wednesday and Latvia was 1 for 5.

Canada kept Berzins busy across the first period, outshooting Latvia 18-4.

The host nation dominated play but Latvia scored the equalizer with less than two minutes to play in the opening frame. Darzins chipped a shot up and over Cossa stick side to make it 1-1.

Bedard opened the scoring 7:31 into the game, blasting a shot through a pair of Latvian defenders and over Berzins’ glove from the top of the slot.

With a different roster than the December tournament and a short training camp, Canada is still trying to build chemistry as the world juniors get underway, Cossa said.

“We’ve been practising but nothing’s really game speed,” he said. “So it was nice getting into the game now and just kind of fix things coming up here, practice and get ready for the rest of the games.”

Earlier Wednesday, Winnipeg Jets prospect Daniel Torgersson scored twice as Sweden (1-0-0) took a 3-2 victory over Switzerland (0-1-0) in Group B play.

In the final game of the day, Germany (1-0-1) defeated Austria (0-0-1) 4-2 for its first win of the tournament.

The Canadians will continue round-robin action Thursday when they take on Slovakia (0-0-1).

NOTES: Greig turned 20 on Monday. The world juniors are a showcase of the best under-20 players across the globe, but the International Ice Hockey Federation has allowed athletes born in 2002 who have already turned 20 to play in this summer’s championship. … Cossa was playing on familiar ice, having helped the Edmonton Oil Kings to a WHL championship in June. … Canada’s goal song is “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

 

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Alberta

World food crisis prompts rise in child marriages: Canadian aid agencies

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OTTAWA — Canadian aid agencies are warning that the world food crisis, made worse by the war in Ukraine, is leading to a rise in underage girls being forced into marriage.

Plan International Canada says it has seen a worrying increase in the number of teenage girls in the developing world being forced into marriage because their families cannot afford to feed them.

The agency says 12 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides each year, forcing them to abandon school while putting their health at risk through early pregnancies. 

It warns a 15 per cent decrease in child marriages over the past decade is now in reverse, with the problem acute in countries such as South Sudan, Niger, Mali, Chad and Bangladesh, a major importer of Ukrainian wheat. 

World Vision says in Afghanistan, where over 22 million people are going hungry, girls are being pulled from school and married off, including into violent homes, because their families can’t afford to feed them. 

Tanjina Mirza, chief programs officer at Plan International Canada, says the rise in food insecurity is exposing more girls to forced marriage and child labour to ease the burden on struggling families. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 10, 2022. 

The Canadian Press

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