In mid-March, in-class teaching stopped in Alberta because of COVID-19. Since then at-home-learning has been the norm. One of the big questions has been what will the fall look like?
On July 21, 2020, the Alberta government announced that K to 12 schools will reopen with in-class teaching in the fall. This is the first of three scenarios that the government considered. It is described as “near-normal daily operations with health measures.”
Slave Lake, Smith, Loon River, and Kinuso schools are part of various school divisions. The school boards will be busy in the next while figuring out the logistics of running school within the health measures.
Alberta School Boards Association President Lorrie Jess says, “the Alberta School Boards Association is pleased that this plan was released earlier than expected as it provides more time for finalizing school board plans.
We appreciate the various experts, parents and community members that helped inform a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff. ASBA and all school boards will work diligently to implement this plan.”
On the Alberta government’s website, there is a re-entry tool kit to help parents and students prepare for the fall. It includes videos, a guide, frequently asked questions, posters, a self-screening questionnaire and health guidelines.
Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange says, “we are determined to do everything that we can to safely return our students, teachers and staff to school.”
The health measures mentioned in the media release include – students being part of cohorts (groups which do all their studying together), physical distancing, frequent cleaning of surfaces, and hand sanitizer at entrances and in classrooms. Staggered class times, recess and lunch will allow physical distancing. Students, staff, parents, and school visitors will fillout daily self-screening questionnaires.
Prior to September, the media release says the chief medical officer of health may add some public health measures in consultation with the education system.
Alberta School Councils’ Association President Brandi Rai says, “the health of students and staff is the priority. In our recent survey on re-entry, 86 per cent of parents that participated indicated they were in favour of a return to school plan for K-12 students. Community efforts are essential to ensure a safe learning environment for our children.”
There has already been a trial run of the school re-entry plan, says the media release. Across the province child care centres are open and the Calgary Catholic Separate School Division ran in-person summer school programming, with no COVID-19 outbreaks.
In the fall, there is the possibility of schools entering one of the two stricter scenarios.
The media release says, “if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a community or school, health officials will work with Alberta Education and impacted school authorities to make any decision to potentially transition to partial in-class learning or at-home learning.”