COWESSESS FIRST NATION -- Officials at the Cowessess Community Education Centre say they are delaying school by two weeks to ensure safety for children and staff.

The delay will allow families to get a first-hand look at how the school will be operating, said Sandy Pinay-Schindler, the director of education at Cowessess First Nation.

“It’s just getting them acclimatized back to the school setting,” Pinay-Schindler said on Tuesday.

She said students will get an idea of what the classroom will look like when everyone is two metres apart.

There will be extra hand sanitizing stations and teachers will be wearing facemasks and possibly face shields.

She said families will be able to visit from Sept. 2 to 11. School will re-open on Sept. 14.

The decision comes after the First Nation surveyed the community.  

“We did deploy a community survey and based on the information that came back we did decide to look at staggering the days and easing into the school year,” Pinay-Schindler said.

The First Nation’s back to school plan will see temperature checks for children, both when they get on a bus and when they arrive at school.

Students will attend school on alternating days and will need to wear a mask if they are in Grades 4 to 12.

"We are going to make sure, as a collective for the responsibility of all students, that we are going to be implementing a mandatory mask rule, unless the parents or guardians can give us a valid reason as to why their students shouldn't wear a mask," said Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme.

He said the most important part of this plan will be getting students back in the building, ensuring physical safety so they can see their friends again.

“The long-term health and safety of our youth depends on them being with other youth,” Delorme said