Three Grande Prairie area school districts are opening their doors to students displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfire.
About a dozen students are slated to be attending schools in the Grande Prairie Catholic School District. Superintendent Karl Germann says they have decided to change the process for admitting the kids into their buildings.
“Generally what you have to do is get the student record transferred over, you have to make sure you have all of the demographic information, birth certificates and that kind of stuff. In this case because people had nothing, we are basically saying admit the students, gather a little bit of contact info and we will just get the kids back into routine”
He adds that there are many Fort McMurray residents with connections in Grande Prairie and they are expecting more students in the days and weeks to come. Counselling services will be available throughout the school district for any student that may need it as well.
Although there aren’t any Fort McMurray evacuees planning to attend schools in the Peace Wapiti School Division so far, they want it to be known that they will accept the displaced students. Superintendent Sheldon Rowe says there may not be many right now but as families assess their situations, there may be more people making their way to Grande Prairie and area.
“If you come into the school with ID that suggests you are from Fort McMurray, we are going to welcome your student in the school. We are going to settle them in as quickly as possible and we also understand this could only be for a few weeks but you need those few weeks to organize your own lives”
Grande Prairie Public School District is accepting Fort McMurray students into their schools as well. Superintendent Sandy McDonald says although it is a small number of students right now, there is a chance that it could grow. He adds that there are two things he wants the student evacuees to know.
“One, we are just glad you’re safe. Two, Welcome. We will do whatever we can to meet your needs. There are no school fees and there are no transportation fees. We have school supplies lined up and we have resources in our schools for other support.”
The Grade 6 to 9 students will be exempt from the Provincial Achievement Tests. Any Fort McMurray students in their Grade 12 year are exempt from taking their June diploma exams but can opt to take them at designated locations if they want. Those students will fill out an exemption form at the school they choose to settle into.