More Sask. school divisions release back to class plans
As a new school year approaches, more school divisions around Saskatchewan are released their back to school plans.
In July, the Government of Saskatchewan released its 2021-22 Safe Schools Plan.
“COVID-19 restrictions will no longer be in place and the 2021-22 school year will proceed as during pre-pandemic years,” the plan states. “All schools will continue to have the support and engagement of local medical health officers in responding to any public health risks in school settings.”
Dustin Duncan, Saskatchewan’s minister of education, said the experience gained by school divisions so far over the pandemic will carry over to this new school year.
“We’ve been at this for a year and a half and it’s affected two school years so far,” he said. “We want to, as much as possible, ensure that it causes the least disruption to a school year.”
The Safe Schools Plan is dependent on the COVID-19 situation in the province, and could change if the case count changes.
“We’re hopeful that it’s going to be as close to a normal school year as possible, but obviously that will depend on local situations and local circumstances and what’s happening broadly across the province,” Duncan said on Friday.
Duncan said the Ministry of Education is watching what’s happening with the Delta variant closely and working closely with all stakeholders.
Since children under 12 cannot get vaccinated, Duncan said they want to see high vaccination rates in all other age groups to ensure the safety of students.
“We’ll take into account this variant and whatever may come after that as we develop plans for the school year,” Duncan said.
SCHOOL DIVISION PLANS
Schools around southern Saskatchewan have started releasing their individual plans.
Prairie South Schools said students are scheduled to return to school as normal with no restrictions. Students and staff will not be required to wear masks, to cohort or maintain physical distancing.
Prairie Valley School Division said it’s been working with health and government officials since the beginning of the pandemic, so felt following these guidelines made sense.
“Our processes at schools are pretty tightly aligned to processes everywhere else in the province, so with the restrictions being lifted in July what we’re thinking at this point is that it’s safe to go back to pre-pandemic footing at schools,” Tony Baldwin, the deputy director of learning for the Prairie Valley School Division, told CTV News.
Baldwin said some practices that came into effect during the pandemic will continue, including cleaning protocols and moving students around the schools in effective ways.
“COVID-19 gave us a chance to rethink about how we clean schools and when we clean schools and what parts of schools need to be cleaned more often,” he said.
Without restrictions like masking and physical distancing, Baldwin is confident it will create a more enjoyable school environment for students and staff.
“School is a lot more than sitting in a classroom and learning whatever you’re learning in that moment, and many of those pieces came away from school last year,” he explained. “I think that morale, mental wellbeing and just the general school experience will be way better [this coming year].”
More details will still be released to parents and students in the coming weeks as the school year approaches.
The Parkland’s Good Spirit School Division said masking, cohorting and physical distancing will not be mandated in classrooms.
All divisions said extracurricular activities will likely return in the Fall. They also said enhanced cleaning protocols will remain in effect.
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