Will a ‘new normal’ welcome students this fall?

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Screenshots of some of the questions from the online survey put out by Buffalo Trail Public Schools to parents/guardians of all students.

It’s June and it’s the beginning of the end for students and teachers.

Normally, around this time of school year, they prepare for upcoming big tests like the PATs, Diplomas and other final exams. But due to COVID-19, these tests have been cancelled, along with Grade 12 graduation ceremonies and the annual softball game between staff and Grade 12 students.

Instead of studying for high-pressure tests, students continue their online classes as teachers ready them for the next school year, reviewing what they learned from the beginning.

Grade 6s and 9s will be transitioning to a different level as usual.

The Grade 9s have already made their course selections for their first year as high school students.

As for the plan for the 2020-21 school year, the Hughenden Public School (HPS) newsletter The Howler confirms that the first day back will be on Sept. 1.

It is still not clear how school will be administered.

The Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, has shared a few options to start school this fall.

They include: 

  1. Having the school start as it normally would;
  2. 2) Opening schools but with some health restrictions, such as social distancing, and limited group sizes; or 
  3. 3) Continuing online school.

A re-entry guide will be released as the Board of Trustees of Buffalo Trail Public Schools (BTPS) and senior administration get a direction from the Minister of Education and the Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hinshaw.

As superintendent, Mr. Bob Allen wrote a letter to parents/guardians of BTPS students, “An important part of this planning will be to hear from parents about how they feel about the options.”

A short survey was distributed by the board and input was due back from parents by June 10.

According to the letter, the Board of Trustees is ready to accommodate Options 1 and 3.

As for option 2, it will require some planning, from physical distancing to transportation.

For students, many would like to go back to school in the traditional way.

Grade 9 student Makenna Lomheim said she prefers Option 1.

“I’m tired of all the rules for corona when it’s not even around here.”

For parents like Quentin Lunde, they worry about the safety of the students; he prefers Option 2.

“It would be safer to have some health restrictions, so if one student has it, the whole school doesn’t get it.”

On Aug. 1, 2020, decisions on the options will be announced for re-entry by the Minister of Education.

Until then, everyone has the same question: Will the next school year be back to “normal” or will a “new normal” welcome students this fall?


by Rylee Lunde and Frances Coral

Hughenden Public School

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