Schools in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division appear ready to return to in-class learning as planned on Monday, Jan. 18.
Director of Education Lorel Trumier said things can change quickly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re optimistic and hopeful students will be back in the classroom as planned.
“We are anxiously waiting for our students to return and it looks, for all intents and purposes, like everything is going as we need it to,” Trumier said. “We will be returning January 18 for in class learning.”
Both the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and Catholic Division moved to Level 4 beginning on Dec. 14 before Christmas break. The safe schools plan includes four phases of education delivery. Level 4 is a “transition to alternative learning opportunities offered by divisions.”
The plan was made after consultation with local public health officials and was in response to the increased rates of community transmission and potential exposures of COVID-19 and Public Health recommendations.
Trumier said they used that transition time in December to identify students who may have technology gaps. They also looked at staff procedures that could help bridge them.
“We quickly we assessed all of those pieces, even with something as simple as making sure our students had their ski pants because they may have forgotten them at school,” she explained. “Those things happen for children.”
Trumier said the week before Christmas was a flurry of activity. The division having their Edsby learning portal available was an advantage.
“We are grateful that we have that in place because we knew that would be required to work through these different levels,” Trumier said. “We needed a means to communicate quickly and establish that platform.”
Before the Christmas break, the two Prince Albert school divisions made a joint announcement and were originally planning to move all high schools in the city to Level 4 from Jan. 4 to Jan. 15. On Dec. 11 the Catholic Division announced that St. Michael Community School was moving to online learning after two positive cases of COVID-19 were connected to the school.
The division has continued to consult with Public Health officials at the local and provincial levels to better understanding potential risks and transmission numbers. Trumier said a number of factors that influence case transmission rates are out of their control. However, she’s hopeful students and families used the time over the Christmas break to limit and reduce the virus’ spread.
She added that school divisions, like other organizations, are trying to make decisions in the uncharted territory of a pandemic.
“We definitely need to support and have an infrastructure that can sustain (an event like) COVID,” Trumier said. “We are learning how to do that along with the rest of the world.”