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School life in Didsbury carries on during pandemic

Westglen Middle School principal says mental health concerns have been identified during the pandemic
MVT stock Didsbury High School front
Mayor Rhonda Hunter says the many school events cancelled due to the pandemic, including band concerts and plays, have been a loss for the entire community. File photo/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY - Didsbury High School, Westglen Middle School, and Ross Ford school principals recently updated Didsbury town council on how students, teachers, staff and other stakeholders have met and overcome the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinook’s Edge School Division trustee Gord Kerr also addressed council during the Mar. 9 council meeting.

“All of our schools have been incredibly flexible,” said Kerr. “I can’t speak enough about the local people I have here in Didsbury. The leadership through this has been immense. They (teachers and staff) have been calm and they’ve been thorough in what they have done. 

“We’ve been extremely well served in our community. It’s one of those challenges that these people have met very admirably.”

Brent Runnett, principal of Ross Ford, said students have embraced the safety measures, such as hand sanitizing.

“And our parents have stepped up nicely,” said Runnett. “I think our parents have done a great job. If their kids are not feeling well they are keeping their kids at home. 

“Truly I believe our building is safe. Hats off to the teachers and staff.”

The school had great feedback from a recent Alberta Health inspection, he said.

Carolyn Massel, principal at Westglen Middle School, said the whole school community has embraced the COVID rules. 

A lot of useful repairs were undertaken at the school during time students were remote learning, she said.

She commended the town for installing more outdoor rinks this winter.

“There was a real pick up for our kids when those started opening,” she said. “They were incredibly well received.”

Mental health concerns have been identified during the pandemic.

“We do have significant mental health concerns,” she said. “The mental health concerns rise and fall. There are a lot of pressures on homes and the kids are there and they bring it to school.”  

Garth Dagg is the principal of Didsbury High School. He said parents, teachers, staff and administration have all been very helpful.

“What a great show of support from all levels,” said Dagg. “Everyone has found a way to get things done when they have to. We’ve been fortunate in this community. I think everyone has been making the best.”

Mayor Rhonda Hunter says the many school events cancelled due to the pandemic, including band concerts and plays, have been a loss for the entire community.

She commended teachers, administrators, custodial staff and others for their work during the pandemic.

“We appreciate your efforts as frontline workers,” she said. “We know what high regard you are held.

“It was important that we got to hear about what our schools are doing. We can’t say enough about how valuable our schools are.”

Council accepted the principal and trustee presentation as information.

In recent weeks Ross Ford Elementary and Didsbury High School were placed on alert status after a combined six cases of COVID-19 in the schools' communities were confirmed, forcing about 145 students and 15 staff into self-isolation.

Dan Singleton

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