File Photo

File Photo

New school year – new normal: Sylvan Lake students preparing to back to school

This school year will look different, and the differences will begin at home, school boards say

Back to school season looks a little different this year. With students returning to class for the first time in five months, rather than two, anxieties are running high.

Parents are unsure how their children will be safe returning to class for the new school year and students are worried about what class will look like.

Responding to the ongoing pandemic, the school boards in Sylvan Lake, Red Deer Catholic Regional School and Chinook’s Edge School Division, are working hard to ensure the safety of staff and students returning to in person learning.

While working to ensure everyones safety some changes are being made to how the school day will look for both students and staff.

Changes to the will actually begin at home, says both school districts.

At Home

Kathleen Finnigan, acting superintendent of schools for RDCRS, says parents are a part of the team, and she is relying on them to have the students ready to go back to school.

She says in the days leading up to the first day of school, she encourages parents to talk to the students about what the school day will be like.

“I think it is so important that parents talk to the students about what school is going to be like. Keep them calm and explain what is happening,” she said.

“We know parents are the first educators, so this is so important.”

Both RDCRS and Chinook’s Edge are looking to the parents to do health wellness checks before going to school each morning.

Kurt Sacher, Chinook’s Edge superintendent, says parents should be asking students a questionnaire each morning.

Slow Return To Normal

Both school districts are implementing a slow return to regular classes. Students with the first initial of their last name at the beginning of the alphabet will return to class first, and alternate with the rest of the students for the first week or two.

RDCRS students begin classes on Aug. 31, while Chinook’s Edge begin on Sept. 1.

Sacher says the slowed and staggered start will help ease students into the new normal they will be experiencing this year.

“This will also reduce the student population by 50 per cent, so it will also be easier for our staff to figure out what is and isn’t working,” said Sacher.

In Chinook’s Edge all students will return to class together on Sept. 10, and in RDCRS full regular class will begin on Sept. 9.

In the Classroom

Students will not be using their lockers this year. Instead they will keep their supplies in their backpack and take that to class.

Finnigan says this will help to reduce the time students gather in hallways.

“At this time we are asking parents to go easy on the school supplies, knowing their students will be carrying them around in their backpacks all the time,” Finnigan said.

Students in Grades 4-12 will be asked to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

Masks will be worn in common areas. In the classroom, students may not have to wear their mask, if sitting in front facing desks, Finnigan says.

However, wearing a mask is not the only safety measure in place for staff and students.

Students will be placed into cohort groups, to keep students as safe as possible during the school day.

“In the younger years, they are already naturally designed that way, but middle [and] high school will be more difficult,” said Sacher. “We are looking at options for upper year cohort groups.”


The school boards are still looking into options and working with the Province and other governing bodies for extracurriculars.

It is unclear at the time of publishing how classes such as music and phys ed will be run. Sacher says P.E. classes will be run outside wherever possible.

When it comes to music, much is still up in the air.

“What we know is that singing and wind instrument are a no go, but we are looking into ways we can still provide music classes,” said Finnigan.

“We know singing is good for the soul, and music is good for mental health, so we aren’t sure what it will look like right now, but we aren’t saying no all together,” Sacher said.

Direction on sports teams is still being decided. The school boards are working with the Province and Alberta Schools Athletic Association on how to safely bring after school sports back for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We are asking parents and students to be patient,” said Sacher.

Just Posted

Patrons rip around a corner on the go-kart course at Lakeshore Go-Karts and Mini-Golf. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake go-kart and mini golf course reopens after fire

Last August the outdoor facility was shut down after a fire burned through much of the business

(File photo from The Canadian Press)
Red Deer down to 66 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer has lowest number of active cases since last November

A small selection of shoes line a step at the Municipal Government Building in Sylvan Lake, with each pair representing a vicitm of residential schools in Canada. Tracey Greinke placed the first pair of shoes on the steps, hoping more would follow. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake woman sets up small memorial for residential school victims

Tracey Grienke placed a pair of moccasins on the steps of town hall, and a few more followed

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Left handed pitcher Evan Wilde started the game for Sylvan Lake and allowed four runs in the 12-10 extra-innings loss against the Edmonton Prospects on Sunday in Western Canadian Baseball League play. (Photos by Byron Hacket/Blakc Press News Media)
Historic opening weekend for Sylvan Lake Gulls

The Gulls finished the opening weekend with one win and two losses

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

A pair of Alberta residents were arrested after police responded to a report of a woman who had allegedly been assaulted and confined against her will on June 20, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP arrest 2 Albertans suspected in alleged assault, unlawful confinement

Firearms, stolen items seized including NHL hockey cards believed to be worth thousands

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

Most Read