Red Deer Public School Board gets assurance on school re-entry plans
For immediate release: Thursday, July 30, 2020
Classes return to ‘near normal’ on September 1
The Board of Trustees for Red Deer Public Schools met with Senior Administration this week to review plans for back to school following the July 21 announcement by the provincial government that students will be back to school under near normal conditions, meaning regular classes in school five days a week, with health guidelines in place.
Since May, district and school administration have been diligently working on a variety of scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year. Knowing that students and staff will return to school under near normal operations with health guidelines in place, the Board of Trustees reviewed and asked questions about division plans wanting assurance that the health and well-being of students and staff are being well taken care of.
“While we know that students, parents and staff are eager to get back to school, there are many questions on how we can ensure the health and safety for all. That’s why we met--to get the assurance that we are doing all that we can. We also know the pandemic is dynamic and that we are going to keep our plans current and up-to-date as the situation evolves," said Board Chair Nicole Buchanan.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and Alberta Education have developed a number of guidelines under which schools will need to operate in the fall. Red Deer Public will follow those guidelines.
“As trustees, we know there are many concerns and questions out there. On Friday, August 7, the division will be emailing parents with more information on back to school,” Buchanan said. “Included in that will be a video outlining the measures we are taking to prepare our schools. We will have complete information on our website outlining plans we have for reentry. We will also be surveying our parents to confirm their intentions for students coming back to school so we can plan accordingly.
“The best learning takes place in the classroom and we are excited to get back to regular teaching and learning. Having said that, we need to do all that we can to address the many issues affecting schools during the pandemic. Throughout the year, we will continually monitor situations and adapt as needed to ensure our students and staff are healthy and well," said Chad Erickson, Superintendent of Schools.
Costs of COVID-19 a concern
"The pandemic has created significant fiscal uncertainty for the 2020 – 21 school year. The provincial government has provided no money to specifically address COVID-19 and the costs will likely be significant,” said Buchanan. “As it stands, we need to cover those expenses within our existing budget, which is already stretched given the new provincial funding framework. We are going to be tracking those numbers to understand the full cost and implications and will report those to our community. This is a significant concern of the Board and school jurisdictions across the province, not only this year, but the impact it will have on our future as well."
Board of Trustees, Chair