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.”

Extracurriculars

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo from Highway 11 Functional Planning Study)
Public input wanted for Highway 11 improvement plan

Round 2 of public online engagement continues until March 10

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Most Read