The back to school season is upon us, and this year it is more confusing than ever. New concerns for health and safety have crept up and both parents and students are wondering how to stay safe in the classroom, at play and on the bus.
New guidelines will be put into place for students taking the bus, to keep them safe going to and from school each day.
The new guidelines for both Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and Chinook’s Edge students follow those set by the province to keep both staff and students safe when returning to in-class learning.
According to both school divisions regular bus safety rules will apply in addition to the new guidelines for the COVID-19 era. These regular safety precautions include: walking, not running to the bus; not using mobile devices until in a safe position; knowing your bus route and arriving at least five minutes early for the bus.
Students are also recommended to know pedestrian safety, and when it is safe to cross the street.
With the new rules in place, all students beginning in Grade 4 will be required to wear a mask while on the bus. Younger students, from Kindergarten to Grade 3, are encouraged to wear masks on the bus but it is not required,
Both school divisions will be implementing a seating plan for the school bus. RDCRS will utilize a first on-first off method.
“I know our older students like sitting in the back of the bus, but that may not be possible right now,” said Kathleen Finnigan, acting superintendent of school for RDCRS.
Meanwhile, Chinook’s Edge will be having file in and sitting from back to front on the bus, and unloading front to back.
According to Chinook’s Edge’s School Re-entry Plan, the “seating plan will be in place while riding to and from school in order to assist with contact tracing in the case of a student being a case of COVID-19.”
All students must complete a daily health screening before getting on the bus. If a student answers yes to any of the questions, they are to stay home from school.
“I am really relying on parents to do the health and wellness checks every morning,” said Finnigan, adding everyone in the school community is part of a team.
The bus drivers will be equipped with masks and face shields for their protections for both RDCRS and Chinook’s Edge busses.
If a student becomes sick on the bus going to school, “the driver will contact the school to make the appropriate arrangements for parent or guardian to pick up the child/student as per illness at school protocols,” according to Chinook’s Edge.
Buses will be sanitized after each morning and afternoon run, Chinook’s Edge states in their re-entry plan.
“We are all a team and we need to work together to make sure our staff and students stay safe and healthy,” said Finnigan.
Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) and Wild Rose School Division will see similar safety rules put into place for their busses with seating plans to better maintain cohorting as well as sanitization after each route in the morning and end of day.
Masks will be mandatory on the busses for all students and the driver for WCPS schools and students will follow established entry protocols once arriving at school, such as designated doors and staged entry to assure social distancing.
Wild Rose School Division will be staggering arrival times as well as dismissal times to avoid large crowds entering and exiting the buildings at once.
For both WCPS and Wild Rose School Division students will not be allowed to eat, drink or share personal items on the bus.