School jurisdictions will have to wait for Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services to decide how schools will operate in September. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)

‘There’s a ton of implications’ to reopening schools

Government provides no date for announcing September plan

Central Alberta school jurisdictions are grappling with their options, if schools reopen in the fall and COVID-19 safety rules continue.

Tuesday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said no decisions have been made on how education will be provided in September, or when decisions will be made.

It was previously announced that students will not be returning to classrooms this school year and will continue learning from home.

Stu Henry, Red Deer Public Schools superintendent, said over the next few weeks, an administration council made up of the district’s principals and vice-principals, will be identifying all potential issues and solutions for reopening schools.

“There’s a ton of implications if we have to come back while the Alberta Health Services guidelines are still in place,” Henry said.

He said elementary school buses are usually filled with 72 children — three students per seat.

“But if we have to have a two-metre distance between children, I question whether we can even put 20 kids on a bus. So how do we even get all of our students to school? Parents may not be able to help.”

He wondered how to best space students in classrooms, and whether that will require shifts for students and using every little space available in schools.

How will social distancing be achieved during physical education classes?

“Will we be asking our staff and our kids to wear masks? I’m seeing that happening in some other countries.”

He was most nervous about how schools can operate if staff must self-isolate if they experience possible COVID symptoms.

“That could have really, really huge implications for our ability to run our school system.”

But even if guidelines are necessary, face-to-face learning is still preferred, he said.

“It’s such a superior version of learning,” Henry said.

The province is working with school authorities on developing a comprehensive re-entry plan that considers three scenarios:

  • Normal school operations are able to resume.
  • Schools are partially reopened, with some level of restrictions.
  • Teacher-directed at-home learning continues.


Classrooms to remain closed

Grades won’t slip for Red Deer public school students

In a statement, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools said it is also planning for September and formulating committees for relaunching schools under the direction of Alberta Education and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

Kurt Sacher, Chinook’s Edge School Division superintendent, said it’s difficult to anticipate what will be expected of schools in the fall.

Regardless of what is decided, schools will need to address learning difficulties created for some students and families when education was moved online, along with any lingering emotional/social needs, he said.

“You don’t have a community that is physically distancing and physically cautious, and afraid of a pandemic and a virus, and then have them come back without some additional anxieties for them as they transition.

“To think there’s not going to be some additional anxiety that we’re going to work through, I think, is naive,” Sacher said.

He said staff and students have gone through a major readjustment to transition from a system built on physical connection to one focused on the cyberspace.

“There’s been a lot being asked of the system right now, and I don’t expect that to ease off in the fall. I think we’re going to be challenged, but we also are confident that we will come together and figure out the best we can do under whatever the conditions might be,” Sacher said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Red Deer Catholic Regional School DivisionRed Deer public schools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta gov’t to expand mental health supports

The Government of Alberta says a $21.6-million investment will expand online resources… Continue reading

City of Red Deer encouraged residents to participate in Food Bank Ninja Challenge

The City of Red Deer is encouraging residents to participate in a… Continue reading

Central Alberta naturalists fear pristine headwaters will be contaminated by coal mine

Chutes of the Ram constitute one of Earth’s ‘most beautiful’ spots

Every Albertan eligible for COVID-19 testing

22 new cases confirmed on Friday

READER VIDEO: American White Pelicans spotted in Red Deer River

A Red Deer Advocate reader spotted a group of American White Pelicans… Continue reading

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Tooting the importance of whistling

OK, so someone who tattles on another person is a whistleblower, and… Continue reading

Police see increase in speedy drivers on quieter streets during pandemic

Police across the country say they’ve been dealing with more complaints about loud, fast vehicles

‘What do we do now?’ Labour dispute at Regina refinery nears 6 months

About 700 unionized workers were locked out by refinery owner, Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Dec. 5

International student worry about pandemic as decisions loom on travel to Canada

Zohra Shahbuddin is weighing whether to enrol this fall or put off coming to Canada until next year

How finding a ministerial home for CMHC caused ‘madness’ in November

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. manages the national housing strategy

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

The jackpot for the next draw on June 2 will be approximately $15 million

Police need more than an unverified tip to avoid drug-case entrapment: top court

Police need more than an unverified tip to avoid drug-case entrapment: top court

Most Read