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School expected to be back in for September

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Alberta Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, said June 10 that students are expected to be back in school in September.

The provincial government will make a final decision on Aug. 1 on which scenario schools, teachers, and students can expect.

In the meantime, school authorities will plan for three different scenarios. The targeted scenario includes near normal operations with in-school classes and some health measures.

In scenario 2, in-school classes will only partially resume with additional health measures.

Physical distancing would remain mandatory and only 15 people would be allowed per classroom.

The final scenario would keep students learning from home as they have during the past three months.

LaGrange noted that all school boards will need to be adaptable for any scenario and that the direction from the province may vary regionally based on active cases in that area. School authorities won’t be able to choose which scenario they operate in, but will have autonomy of how they meet requirements within those scenarios.

Under the first and preferred scenario, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces will be implemented several times per day. Staff and students will be screened routinely, they must wash their hands when entering and exiting the school and classrooms, and a strict stay-at-home policy will be in place for anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

Physical distancing and grouping measures are encouraged in different ways, including reorganizing rooms to create space.

Staff and students would not be mandated to wear masks, and it is not recommended for younger students to wear a mask. Students can’t share equipment and supplies.

Scenario two will include the same measures as scenario one but will additionally only allow 15 people per classroom and require consistent physical distancing.

Students will attend school less regularly under the second scenario and school authorities will need to adjust schedules.

Any summer programming will follow scenario 2 of the re-entry plan and the associated public health measures.

Students taking diploma courses this summer will proceed to write diploma exams, unlike students in current spring diploma courses.

In the case of scenario 3 in the following school year, diploma exams and provincial achievement tests for Grade 6 and 9 may be cancelled.

British Columbia

Students in neighbouring British Columbia returned to school on June 1 on a part-time, voluntary basis.

Before re-opening, schools had to submit a health and safety plan to the provincial government that was to follow the provincial health officer’s guidelines. Anyone entering a school building must wash their hands and some schools are only allowing staff and students inside to avoid additional traffic.

Other safety measures like physical distancing are also in place, similar to Alberta’s measures.

The BC Ministry of Education said between 20 to 80 per cent of students were expected to return on alternating days, depending on the district. 

Most students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 returned to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 go to school about one day a week. At-home learning remains an option for families who decided not to send their children to class.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government announced on June 9 that in-class learning for prekindergarten to Grade 12 students will resume at the start of the new school year on Sept. 1. Students in Saskatchewan will finish out this year with at-home learning. 

Public health guidelines are in the process of being developed for schools and would be shared with school divisions this week.

Quebec

Quebec was the first province in Canada to return to elementary classrooms outside of Montreal on May 11, but with strict health and safety measures.

Schools in Montreal and all secondary schools in the province will remain closed until September.

Other Provinces

Manitoba and PEI followed suit and reopened all of their schools, although optional in all cases.

Elementary and high schools in Manitoba partially reopened, which means students take turns going to class, or have small group classes.

PEI students can schedule meetings with their teachers at school or small, outdoor classes are optional.

All remaining provinces and territories have announced their K-12 schools will stay closed until September at least.