Premier Jason Kenney was joined by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and chief medical officer of health Deena Hinshaw Tuesday afternoon, July 21, in announcing that students would be returning to class this fall.
Schools will be welcoming students under the province’s Scenario 1, which is near normal operations with health measures in place to protect students and staff.
“We are determined to do everything that we can to safely return our students, teachers, and staff to school. I appreciate the input and support of school authorities across the province, as well as our education partners, in developing and refining our school re-entry plan,” said Minister LeGrange. “We are providing clear and detailed guidelines and a re-entry tool kit so everyone can do their part and prepare for a safe return to school.”
Indeed his scenario, classes would resume with all students returning to school. There would be measures in place which include frequent cleaning of surfaces, placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses, and lunches. Additional public health measures may be established prior to September on the advice of the chief medical officer of health in consultation with the education system.
The announcement came earlier than expected, allowing schools and boards more time to prepare for the season.
“The College of Alberta School Superintendents appreciates the opportunity to work alongside government and education partners to develop a detailed re-entry plan,’ said Bevan Daverne, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents and Golden Hills School Division superintendent. “The CASS board of directors strongly believes that the re-entry plan offers the appropriate balance of guidance from the chief medical officer of health and the government while providing for the authority and autonomy for individual school divisions to assure their students, parents, and staff that a successful return to school will be safe.”
A release from the Alberta Teacher's Association (ATA) states that teachers are still concerned about the return to school.
“Teachers are looking forward to doing the work they love to do with their students, but we remain concerned by the failure of the government to adequately address their concerns,” said ATA President Jason Schilling. “Successful school reopening is critical to the well-being of students, teachers, staff, their families, and the economy, and it requires the confidence of everyone impacted.”