School District 42 superintendent, Sylvia Russell provided an update for local families on back-to-school planning this week.
It has been announced that school districts across the province are implementing a gradual restart plan during the week of Sept. 8, which means students will not be returning to classrooms on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The first two days of that week (Sept 8 and 9) will be reserved for the training of staff on updated health and safety guidelines to prepare properly for the return of students.
The superintendent said students will begin to return to classrooms on September 10 and 11 in groups – at set times – for a full orientation on the implemented health and safety protocols, as well as an introduction to their cohort.
Regular daily attendance for all grade 1-12 students will begin on September 14.
Parents of incoming kindergarten students will be provided an updated detailed gradual start schedule directly by school principals.
“Our schools will be working hard over the next few weeks on the complex task of implementing provincial guidelines, organizing learning, and establishing bell schedules,” Russell said.
“The work on these organizational changes is now well under way, and schools will provide families with information about the structure of the learning groups – cohorts – once these groups are finalized.”
She added parents can look for newsletters from school principals in the coming days with information specific to their institutions.
In this far-from-ordinary situation, anxious parents are sure to have many questions about the school restart, and Russell acknowledges as much.
“I appreciate your patience as we do this necessary planning work,” she said.
“We are committed to sharing with you as much as we can, as soon as we can. The work at all of our schools is very detailed and planning around a cohort or learning group is a significant and difficult change to organize.
“Having said that, the health and safety advantages of the cohort system are clear, and we are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that your child has an educational program that is diverse, interesting, and as safe as possible in this challenging time.”
Russell committed to providing a detailed update on the health and safety measures and Stage 2 plans for the school district as soon as the restart plan has been reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Education, which she said, will come no later than August 26.
“I know that our health and safety planning is of utmost importance to families,” she said.
“We were very successful in the spring on this front and we are determined to approach the fall restart with similarly detailed health and safety planning and supports.”
The superintendent added school principals will provide additional communication, which will include advice on school supplies, routines, pick-up and drop-off, and the procedures regarding assignment of students to their teachers and their cohort on September 10 and 11.
The SD42 website lists a host of alternative program options for students who, for whatever reason, are unable to attend school.
The province also offers homeschooling info on the Ministry of Education website.