Chad Erickson, Red Deer Public Schools superintendent, says the district is excited to welcome students back on Monday. (Contributed photo)

Chad Erickson, Red Deer Public Schools superintendent, says the district is excited to welcome students back on Monday. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer Public Schools superintendent ‘excited’ to welcome students back to classroom

The health and safety of students continues to be “the utmost priority” with in-person learning returning next week, says the superintendent of Red Deer Public Schools.

In a statement released Friday, Chad Erickson said the district is excited to welcome students and staff back to the classroom on Monday.

“It was great to see students engaged in temporary online learning this past week, but we believe learning best happens in the classroom,” said Erickson.

“Our students in Grades 7-12 have been learning at home since Nov. 30, plus all students have been learning at home this past week. Our staff have worked incredibly hard to support learning during these times.”

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney announced schools across the province will resume in-person learning this upcoming Monday, as previously planned.

READ MORE: In-person learning at schools resumes Monday, says Alberta premier

The provincial government had students from middle and high schools shift into online learning on Nov. 30 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.

Red Deer Public Schools will “continue” enhanced cleaning protocols, hand sanitations, mask requirements and many other guidelines that were implemented at the start of the school year, said Erickson.

“It’s also essential that students are well when they come to school and we ask parents to remain vigilant in ensuring they keep their child home if they have had risk of exposure or are exhibiting symptoms,” he said.

In a public letter released to parents Friday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said schools play a critical role in supporting student learning as well as children’s emotional health and overall well-being.

“Understandably, some of you are feeling anxious due to the rise of COVID-19 in our communities and around the world,” LaGrange said.

“I want to assure you that we have a comprehensive plan to continue student learning throughout the pandemic and we are ready to make adjustments when necessary. The safety of your children, their teachers and all school staff remains our top priority.”

LaGrange said it’s important to recognize the effort Alberta schools, teachers and parents have put in follow the extensive health measures.

“As a result, only 0.4 per cent of students and staff tested positive in total from the beginning of the school year until the winter break,” said LaGrange.

“Yesterday, the chief medical officer of health confirmed that the protocols in place are protective against in-school transmission and analysis of all our cases in school-aged children indicated that only six per cent of these cases were determined to have been acquired at school.”

A representative from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools was not available for comment this week.

“We are looking forward to seeing our students back for in-person learning this upcoming Monday, Jan. 11,” Red Deer Catholic tweeted Friday afternoon.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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