“Fantastic!” is principal Lisa Palko’s answer to a question about how things are going at Roland Michener School. “I am so impressed with the students here.”
Palko was referring to the new rules of conduct with regard to COVID. They differ considerably between the junior and senior high ends of the school. The juniors remain in one room for all their core subjects, with teachers moving around as needed. This is tougher for the teachers, Palko says, who are accustomed to having their own rooms and having students cycle in and out. But it’s working. The juniors (Grades 7 through 9) still change rooms for gym class and options. In all cases, masks must be worn by everyone in the hallways, and in class “the minute you need to face someone, a mask goes on.”
The senior high students are going from class to class, with the same ‘masking-up’ rules when moving or doing work that brings them into close contact with each other.
The teachers, Palko says, “are pretty much in masks all day.”
Palko says she was expecting some sort of ‘pushback’ on the mask requirements when school started, but has been pleasantly surprised. Hence her description at the beginning of this story.
The story at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy in Slave Lake is similar. Principal Angie White says she was anticipating something more difficult than actually happened. Students are “getting into a routine,” she says. “We’re lucky.”
The routine includes having a mask on when you enter the school, using hand sanitizer regularly, and if you have any symptoms at all, reporting it and enduring some period of separation from your classmates. Seniors and juniors are pretty much confined to a single room, with teachers doing most of the moving around. There is an exception in senior high science, White says.
Gym classes are another exception. Emphasis has been on activities that keep the kids as separate as possible.
“It’s been going pretty well,” White says. “We’ve been getting into a pretty good routine.”