Prairie Land goes over school re-entry plan

Written by Terri Huxley

The Prairie Land School Division board of trustees were given an updated of the division plans to have students begin school by introducing a document on the overarching protocol.

Superintendent Cam McKeage started the meeting on Tues. Aug. 25 by saying AHS has made students and teaching staff a priority having the clinics in Hanna and Consort as a place to test for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

As for the actual re-entry, McKeage says each school within Prairie Land will be slightly different with some utilizing a staggered approach while others won’t be based on population in the classroom.

Additional custodians are being hired for throughout the day cleaning hotspot areas as well as using the deep clean electrostatic spraying on top of this.

McKeage shared he receives roughly 40 to 50 emails each day from concerned parents.

One thing that many trustees found hard to process was the limit on extracurricular activities, clubs, and sports.

Students are being asked to stick to one club or sport to reduce the spread of possible germs but trustees couldn’t help but point out the fact most of these programs involve the same students, especially in small rural populations, making this rule difficult for students and their mental wellbeing.

“In a small town, you are sitting with them all day. I struggle with that because you are sitting with them in class all day anyway,” said Trustee Lindsay Bond. “I just think that’s ridiculous.” 

As for playschools in some schools, the division is allowing little ones and their parents to return as they have separate entrances and playground equipment that keeps them separate from the regular student body.

“With small communities, there needs to be some flexibility,” said McKeage.

Trustees asked about what the consensus was on policing mask enforcement to which McKeage explained that it will go up the chain of command (from teacher to principal to superintendent) but for the most part he wanted to emphasize the importance of making this whole process fun for students.

“There is lots of unknown to begin with but we don’t want to look at it in a militant fashion,” said McKeage.

As for blended learning of both online and in-person learning, Prairie Land is looking at possibly keeping this model longer than the pandemic as it allows rural students who live on the farm or ranch to spend more time at home helping when busy seasons hit.

Classes officially begin on Wed. Sept. 2 with many coming back to school on Mon. Aug. 31.


Windriver Colony

In three years’ time, Prairie Land will have their 10th colony under their belt which will be located north of Blood Indian Reservoir.

It will be called Windriver Colony.


Delia School rebuild

Dep. Superintendent Steve Nielson gave new insights to both school rebuild projects, beginning with Delia School.

He said there has been a lot of progress happening with the contract now awarded from the five bids that it was narrowed down to.

The company’s name will be released soon once it is all confirmed.

Shovels may be in the ground as early as the end of September with an end date of February 2022, four months before the end of school.

Nielsen mentioned that this deadline is rather strict as every day they go over, it is a fine of $6,000 as well as putting their reputation for future jobs on the line too.

A contract for the new playground has been sifted down to two companies which will be selected soon.


Morrin School rebuild

As for Morrin School, Steve Nielson said progress has been steady there as well.

A large interest in engineering has been shown with 15 bidders compared to three Delia received.

Morrin’s playground is in good shape so it will not likely be replaced.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.