Officials with the Grande Prairie Public School Division are pleased with the proposed back to school strategy put forth by the Alberta Government, and believes they are on track to deal with any potential changes.
During her announcement on June 10th, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange laid out the rules surrounding the ‘near-normal’ re-opening, which doesn’t mandate masks, and recommends a maximum of only 15 people in a classroom to allow for more consistent physical distancing. McDonald says if the physical distancing is not possible in the classroom, they will be looking at other ways to keep students safe.
GPPSD Superintendent Sandy McDonald says, during the midst of the pandemic, three possible scenarios were hinted at when it came to the 2020/2021 school year. Those include normal school operations resuming, partial reopening with restrictions, and continued at-home learning.
“We didn’t expect we would receive the guidelines that we did as early as we did… so we’ve got the information and it does fit in nicely with what we are planning.”
McDonald says the plan they continue to work on at a local level revolves around four key points: looking at a curriculum at each of the grade levels, how it’s delivered, how classes are structured, and what classes will be on offer.
“When all of the students return to school, there could be a class of 30 students. We would not be able to have physical distancing that gives them two metres each, but we will be building in new routines in the school to promote physical distancing as much as we can.”
He adds one potential updated operational change would see staggered bells for class transitions to limit the number of students in the hallways at one time.
“It might look like directional hallways, you know, if you’re heading [one way] you’re sticking to the far right-hand wall, and if you’re going [the other] way, you’re sticking to the other far right-hand wall on the other side so we keep as much space as we can in between.”
The province says the final decision on which scenario school boards will follow will be decided by the government and not by individual school authorities. That final decision will be made no later than August 1st.