Saskatchewan Rivers taking time to adapt with plan to return in September

Saskatchewan Rivers School Board director of education Robert Bratvold answers a question at the 2016 AGM.

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division is preparing to return to school in September after Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Gord Wyant outlined the plan for returning during the COVID-19 press conference on Thursday, June 18.

According to director of education Robert Bratvold the division did not want to get too far ahead of the planning.

“I’m really pleased that the framework is out. We have been waiting and there is lots of moving pieces and complications so it is great to have the framework. I think the framework provides good clarity for school divisions. There is enough sort of directness to it but there is also enough that we can make adjustments to how we are going to do things quickly. I am thankful I have some relief that the school year start is as close as can be to a normal startup as you might expect,” Bratvold said.

“There is lots of details to put in there,” he added.

The division released a letter to families on June 18 from Bratvold and board chair Barry Hollick. The letter outlined that the framework will provide the direction for us to create our local plans for returning to school in a way that protects the health of students, staff and families while also providing excellence in education.

They will be creating the SRPSD plan in the coming weeks.

The letter went on to state that some of the essential elements of the plan will be known by June 30 but decisions about other details will be made in August closer to the start of the school year when more information about the context and circumstances is clear. It would be comforting to provide all the details now, but unfortunately there are still some details that remain unknown.

“So once the framework came out we started to get our planning underway, we had another planning session today. We expect to have our outline ready and into schools at the end of this week. And then there is lots of details that we will fill in August when we are closer to the circumstances,” he said on Monday following the division’s final regular meeting of the school year.

The guidelines include standards for cleaning and sanitation as well as procedures such as staggering entrances and limiting group activities. Physical distancing will be encouraged as much as possible. Continuous mask- wearing is not part of the recommendations.

Teachers and parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the guidelines, which are posted online as part of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

The use of physical barriers, such as Plexiglass, is also allowed if physical distancing is not possible.

Bratvold explained that they are building their plan right now. They are using what they learned during the shutdown to move planning forward.

“And really there is two parts to this one is this is the entry school re-opening plan that is what this is going to look like, then we are also going to have a contingency plan. If something goes differently or if the context is different we will know how to respond with lots of good experience and good feedback from parents around the supplemental learning so we can use lots of those lessons to inform our contingency plan,” he said.

The letter also outlines plans to communicate and use their experiences during the shutdown as a guide.

“We are going to reach out to parents, though the time compression is tough, we are going to reach out to parents to get some of their feedback about things they felt went well during the supplemental learning and things that might have gone better,”

-With Files from Peter Lozinski, Prince Albert Daily Herald