By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on July 30, 2020.
MLA FOR LETHBRIDGE-EAST
The suspension of in-person schooling in March has been hard for many students and their families. Kindergarten to Grade 12 education changed significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I know that students, parents, teachers and school boards did their best to adapt to a different way of learning.
However, we all know that students who attend schools often learn best in the classroom with their teachers and peers, and our goal is to get us back to classroom learning as soon as possible. With back-to-school season approaching, many parents have been eagerly waiting to see what school will look like come September.
Last week, Alberta’s government announced that students will be returning to classrooms across the province at the beginning of the new school year. This is great news for families in our community. It provides a breath of fresh air for parents, and something to look forward to for students. The decision to reopen schools has been made with the safety of students, teachers and other staff members being the highest priority. For in-person learning to proceed, health measures are being put in place for the safety of every child, teacher and staff member. Each school will implement strict public health measures, including frequent cleaning of surfaces, introducing hand sanitizers to school and classroom entrances, grouping students in cohorts, and adjusting schedules to allow for greater physical distancing. While school may feel a little different at first, these changes will allow a safe, near-normal return to class.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Albertans informed on new measures has been a key part of Alberta’s response. To help prepare families, Alberta’s government has developed a re-entry toolkit to help prepare parents and students of what to expect in the new school year. This toolkit includes videos for students explaining some of the health measures, a guide for parents, frequently asked questions, school posters, a self-screening questionnaire in multiple languages, and links to health guidelines. The resources in the school re-entry toolkit will help families discuss changes with their children.
As Alberta’s students prepare to go back to school, the Minister of Education will continue to work closely with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hinshaw, as well as school boards, to ensure that all schools are prepared to welcome students back.
The reopening of our schools, and our entire economy, is a result of the hard work of Albertans to slow the spread of COVID-19. As students return to school, we are making sure that each of us has the tools needed to return safely to daily life.