Alberta aims to get students back into the classroom by fall 2020
The majority of CCDS teachers and staff work from home for three months, after getting the green light from the board on March 17. Since then, each school has had only about five people in each building, each day to perform administrative and supervisory functions.
According to Chief Superintendent Dr. Bryan Szumlas, the decision was made after Alberta moved into Phase 2 of its revival.
“We know that the number of… [people allowed at] inside the rallies … [has] increased by 50 people and that’s why we’re going in that direction, he says.
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Szumlas says bringing teachers is an important part of preparing for the fall as it will give them a chance to get all the equipment they need for the summer, to make sure the classrooms are ready for a new cohort of students and having the chance to speak with their leaders on how the next will be the year of the eye.
Teachers, other staff and leaders will always keep public health recommendations and orders in mind, Szumlas said, adding that everyone expects to disinfect when they enter schools and measures social distance will be established.
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There will also be masks on hand as part of the PPE kits are delivered to school this week, however, they are not required.
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The CCDS also has its own COVID-19 manual which will be given to staff and families next week.
“We want to get closer to our new normal and we want to start with educating our employees,” Szumlas said.
“We realize it is going to be difficult for some, there is a lot of concern there.”
Szumlas said that the majority of teachers and other staff are eager to return to school, but for those who are hesitant about returning, there is a lot of support available. He also stressed that the schools are clean and ready for school.
When they return, employees will be asked to complete the Alberta Health Services-created COVID-19 questionnaire to test and possible symptoms of exposure. The same will be the case if and when the students return.
Planning for the fall
The Alberta government has presented schools with three different possibilities of what fall will look like; Scenario 1 seeing students back to school with roughly normal health measures, Scenario 2 students returning with more health measures and Scenario 3 having students learning online as they l have been since the month of March.
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Szumlas says the CCSD schools have operated under Scenario 1 for over 100 years, and has worked successfully with Scenario 3 for the past three months, so preparing for Scenario 2 proves to be the biggest challenge.
“We haven’t done it before,” he said.
“With social distance in play, it will not be possible to have every child in school every day.”
Szumlas said that if Scenario 2 is what decided in August, the CCSD schools will be more likely to see students attending classes on alternating days.
“We are going to find out that we are going to have up to 14 students present, and the next day we are going to have a second cohort to attend,” Szumlas said.
The ability to spread students between morning and afternoon is not a viable option because of transportation and the amount of cleaning that would be required in the middle of the day, Szumlas said.
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He said that CCSD has been hoping for the best, but also to prepare teachers and families so that Scenario 2 could look like so they are ready for the worst and not to be caught off guard.
Szumlas says thank you for the preparations that have already been made and for bringing the staff back for the last week of the year, the tentative date for a provincial decision – August. 1 – will give the district enough time to implement one of the three scenarios.
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