The suspension of in-person schooling in March has been hard for many students and their families. Kindergarten to Grade 12 education changed significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I know that students, parents, teachers and school boards are doing their best to adapt to a different way of learning. However, we all know that students who attend schools learn best in the classroom with their teachers and peers, and our goal is to get us back to normal learning as soon as possible. With back to school season approaching, many parents have been eagerly waiting to see what school will look like this upcoming year.
This week, Alberta’s government announced that students will be returning to classrooms across our province at the beginning of the new school year. This is great news for families in our community. The decision to re-open schools has been made with the health and safety of students, teachers, and all staff members being the highest priority. Health measures are being put in place, so no one has to feel unsafe about returning to class. Each school will implement public health measures, including frequent cleaning of surfaces, introducing hand sanitizers to school entrances and in classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and adjusting schedules to allow for greater physical distancing. While school may feel a little different at first, these changes will allow a safe, near-normal return to class.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Albertans informed on new measures has been a key part of Alberta’s response. To help prepare families, Alberta’s government has developed a re-entry toolkit to help prepare parents and students for what to expect in the new school year. This toolkit includes videos for students explaining some of the health measures, a guide for parents, frequently asked questions, school posters, a self-screening questionnaire, and links to health guidelines. The resources in the school re-entry toolkit will help families discuss changes with their children.
As Alberta’s students prepare to go back to school, the Minister of Education will continue to work closely with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, as well as school boards, to ensure that all schools are prepared to welcome students back.
The re-opening of our schools, and our entire economy, is a result of the hard work of Albertans to slow the spread of COVID-19. I know that many people in Drumheller – Stettler will continue to ensure the health and safety of everyone while we move towards the final stages of relaunch and begin our economic recovery. As students return to school, it is important that each of us use the tools we have to ensure that we can stop the spread and safely get our schools up and running.
MLA Nate Horner