From May 29 to June 11, the Calgary Board of Education opened up online surveys on school re-entry and gathered more than 73 thousand responses from parents, students and staff. The survey results indicate that all these three groups are somewhat comfortable with returning to in-person classes in the fall.
Then on July 21, the Alberta Government announced that K-12 students would return to learning in classrooms across Alberta at the beginning of the new school year in September.
On July 28, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health held a Facebook live Q & A session and answered some questions from the public about Alberta’s school re-entry plan.
Here are some highlights of the Q & A session:
Are in-person classes safe?
Both the Minister and Dr. Hinshaw said that they feel safe for their children or grandchildren to return to school in person in September, but each family needs to make the right decision based on their own situation.
Is there funding for safety measures?
The government has increased school division funding by $120 million across the province, and $15 million from maintenance stimulus will go to upgrades such as touchless sinks.
What happens if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19?
- Exposures at school are not possible to avoid once in-person classes start;
- As soon as a person tests positive, public health should then immediately establish contact with the school and identify who were in close contact with the person;
- Returning to in-person classes is also good for students’ overall health (not just physical but also mental health).
How does the concept of cohorts work?
- In Alberta, the concept of cohorts is up to 15 people outside your household. In schools, the cohort is the classroom;
- The idea is that you try to limit the number of people you spend time with to a relatively small number;
- You may not always be able to maintain the 2-metres distance with those in your cohort. As physical distance is hard to maintain among younger children, the government suggests the cohort model.
Why not cap class sizes or mandate masks?
- Capping class sizes is not very practical;
- The government is looking at new evidence about wearing masks in schools.
Word of the Day:
To cap: to limit or restrict