At their final meeting of the 2019-2020 school year, held on June 11, the BRSD Board of Trustees learned more about the plans being put in place for a safe re-entry into schools next fall.
After three months of home-based learning, BRSD students, along with all other K to 12 students in Alberta, are wrapping up their year.
As school divisions look ahead, they know that, by August 1, Alberta Education will determine which of three possible scenarios will be in place for a return to school next fall.
As emphasized by Hon. Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education, on June 10, the goal is for all students and staff to return to school buildings next fall, with a ’nearly normal’ routine. But it’s possible that students will return to a more mixed reality, combining some attendance and non-attendance days, or even going back to an online, at-home learning format.
As Superintendent Rita Marler outlined, staff of BRSD have been putting plans in place to be ready for whatever scenario they face come September. She reminded the Board that even a return to ‘near normal’ will not the same as it used to be, with extra cleaning and sanitizing measures being put in place, and school routines adjusted to ensure students and staff interact in smaller groupings. Specific details of the format school will take will be shared in August, once school divisions know more about the format school will take.
Plans are being based, in part, on input provided by nearly 2300 parents, more than 1200 students and approximately 500 staff who participated in BRSD’s recent re-entry survey.
Parents expressed concern about their children being able to move ahead with learning, and also about the social and emotional wellbeing of their children. Students, too, were concerned about the impact of being away from friends and school routines. Staff felt they were in a position to support students whatever the reality is next fall, but also expressed concern about ensuring everyone’s health and safety in a school environment.
Addressing these concerns will be part of the school division’s re-entry plan. There will be time dedicated to understanding and supporting where students are at in their learning, as well as supporting their physical, social and emotional wellness.
The Board heard that the BRSD Transportation department has been reviewing all routes and transportation plans for next year. It appears routes will be able to be reduced in two areas. In addition, Alberta Education continues to conduct a thorough review of Transportation services across Alberta, with report due in the fall.
Plans continue to be affected by pandemic
The BRSD Board agreed to defer their annual Employee Recognition Banquet, which is usually held in the fall to celebrate staff milestones such as long-service and retirement.
A discussion regarding potential International Travel trips, which allow students to travel to destinations around the globe during Spring Break each year, resulted in a decision to make a final decision about trips for Spring Break 2021 in the fall, based on conditions at the time.
BRSD is willing to welcome International Students back to the Division next fall, as long as borders are open so the students are able to travel to our country and the students are able to self-isolate for the required 14 day period prior to starting school. There may also be BRSD staff who travel to other countries to recruit students for the following school year. International students bring revenue to the school division and also help expand the diversity of our student population.
Due to the school shut downs that took place this spring, as well as uncertainty about how things will be in the fall, for both school reentry and insurance requirements, BRSD has not been able to make progress in its discussions with the Round Hill Renaissance Committee regarding the potential formation of an Agriculture Program at the Round Hill School. There will continue to be work done with this group in the future.
The Board continued their ongoing process of reviewing and revising policies. Many of the changes required to policies are simply to adjust titles and references that have been updated in the new Education Act.
The Board of Trustees is not scheduled to meet in July, but will hold their annual Organizational Meeting, at which the Chair and Vice Chair for the coming year are selected, as well as appointments made to the various Board committees, on Thursday, August 27.
- all information based on the June 11, 2020 meeting of the BRSD Board of Trustees