OLDS – The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) division has released its re-entry plan for the upcoming school year. The division includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.
Kathleen Finnigan is the acting superintendent of RDCRS. She says the re-opening plan is aimed primarily at keeping students, teachers, staff and school visitors healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal is to continue to be faith-filled learning environments with high quality teaching practices while keeping students, staff and families as safe as possible,” said Finnigan.
“With RDCRS we will focus on three priority areas to ensure a successful school entry: safety and risk management; mental wellness; continuity of leaning.”
The division’s 20-page plan was developed using guidance provided by both the minister of Education and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
The RDCRS plan includes a number of provisions regarding faith, including that all maximum occupancy expectations for school chapels must be followed. All evening youth ministry events have been postponed until further notice.
Religious celebrations and mass will not take place in face-to-face.
“Schools may choose to have celebrations virtually allowing all classrooms to log in a Google meet and have time with Christ during these times of uncertainty and questioning,” the plan states.
Regarding daily attendance at schools, parents and guardians must assess their child daily for symptoms of common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or other respiratory diseases to determine whether they can attend school or stay home.
That assessment involves the use of the government of Alberta’s COVID19 information screening questionnaire, which all families will be receiving.
Students who experience illness at school will need to leave the premises and parents/guardians will be notified and asked to pick up the child.
The plan includes provisions for hand washing and sanitizing at every school. Students and staff will be required to wash and/or sanitize every time they enter or exist a school, before and after using shared equipment, and before eating.
Cleaning protocols have been developed and include additional training for staff and the removal of soft furnishing and area rugs from classrooms and common areas.
All schools will have a daytime custodian to implement ongoing general area cleaning.
Students, teachers and staff will be required to maintain physical distancing rules such as maintaining a distance of two metres between two or more people.
Grade 4-12 students will be required to wear face masks when in common areas and on school buses. Exceptions to the mask rule for individuals who are unable for physical, psychological or developmental reasons can be arranged.
Desks in classrooms will be arranged so as to allow distancing.
Schools will implement a cohort system, where groups of students and staff stay together, which will help with any tracing efforts that may be needed due to an outbreak of COVID.
Parents, guardians and visitors must not enter the schools unless approved by the principal. If they need to enter a school they must book an appointment.
Parents and guardians dropping off or picking up students at school are asked to stay in their vehicles or outside the school and maintain social distancing.
Student lockers will not be used, with students hanging jackets and backpacks on their chairs or in designated areas in classrooms.
Schools will evaluate whether they can offer extracurricular activities that follow COVID-19 protocols.
No school supplies will be shared and students will be required to have their own pencil case and a binder.
The plan allows families to choose at-home learning options due to health concerns and parental choice related to the pandemic.
School attendance will begin on Aug. 31 under a staggered schedule, with regular classes beginning Sept. 9.
“We respect that each person’s situation is unique,” said RDCRS board chair Anne Marie Watson. “Some are choosing to physically return to school while others are choosing to continue with at-home learning. Whichever method of learning you’ve chosen, we look forward to connecting with you and supporting you.”
The complete RDCRS re-entry plan is available for viewing at rdcrs.ca