Parents appear overwhelmingly supportive of their children returning to classrooms at Red Deer public schools this fall.
Nearly 94 per cent of students will be back in the class, according to preliminary results of surveys that were sent to students’ homes last week by the public school district, said the district’s community relations director, Bruce Buruma.
While only 34 per cent of surveys have been been returned, so far, Buruma still considers these early results encouraging and in line with what parents had indicated in June.
Results show that most families believe “we will be taking every precaution we can” to ensure that students can learn in a safe environment, he added.
Alberta school districts have been told to operate at “near normal” this fall by the Alberta government, while taking extra measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mask wearing for Grade 4 to 12 Red Deer public and Catholic school students will be mandatory in hallways, buses and all public spaces, as required by the province.
Buruma said reusable masks, to be provided by the province, can be removed in classrooms if students are not face to face, or if two-metre spacing between students can be observed.
Face coverings are optional for younger students. But school districts have been told to observe appropriate distancing in all classrooms while stepping up the sanitation of surfaces.
A minority of parents oppose sending their children back into classrooms, fearing they will contract and spread the virus, but the majority are willing to return to a near-normal situation — whether because of work commitments or educational reasons, said Buruma.
After so much home-based learning during the spring lockdown, some parents realize a better level of education can be provided in a classroom setting, he believes.
“I think a lot of families now know how tough teaching is and have a greater appreciation for teachers,” said Buruma.
He believes most kids will be happier being back at school with their friends, ”and we also want to have them back in the classroom.”
Classes for Red Deer public school students start on Sept. 1, while Catholic school students return on Aug. 31.