Fort McMurray’s Catholic and Public schools ramped up preparations for the beginning of the school year.
In a joint statement, Fort McMurray Catholic Schools (FMCSD) and Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) said students will return on Aug. 31, 2020.
The return is on a staggered entry schedule under Scenario #1 as announced by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on July 21.
Cathie Langmead, Board Chair for the FMCSD, said students last attended classes on March 12, 2020.
She said staff changed their instruction in a short window to make off-site learning a success.
“These last five months have been hard for all of us to varying degrees. It is key that we continue to work together, and be there for each other, throughout the coming school year. With many new protocols and procedures in place, we know that our students, families, teachers and staff will encounter moments of stress and uncertainty.”
Langmead added the FMCSD will continue working to provide a supportive and successful environment for children, staff, and families.
FMCSD Superintendent George McGuigan said he is excited to welcome children back to school.
“Together, we have kept COVID-19 relatively at bay. We all need to work together to keep it that way. Please follow the guidelines as set by our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Hinshaw. We need your full community support as we return to on-site learning.”
The FMPSD is also proud of the work done over the summer to get ready.
Board Chair Linda Mywaart said the Board for the work done by senior leaders and school-based staff.
“Their ongoing thoroughness, diligence and willingness to both ask and receive comments and questions at all levels, demonstrates our goal of a plan focused on the health and safety of staff, students and families of FMPSD.”
Superintendent Jennifer Turner said she thanks the community for their care and concern during a fluid situation.
“Staff at FMPSD are looking forward to connecting with students and families again. As we relaunch the school year, the priority remains your health and safety. We are working hard to implement all requirements and recommendations made by the medical health officer and we will continue to update our re-entry plan as new information and updates are available.”
Elected officials in the region thanked the FMCSD and FMPSD for their efforts.
“I would like to thank Fort McMurray Catholic Schools and the Fort McMurray Public School Division for their leadership and adaptability in supporting the needs of our students and families during these dynamic times,” Said Mayor Don Scott. “We are all in this together and with continued collaboration and personal commitment to following the public health guidelines, we can help keep our community safe and support students as they return to the classroom.”
Local MLAs Goodridge and Yao are also excited for the return of on-site learning.
Representing Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, MLA Laila Goodridge said while things may look different, Fort McMurray is strong and resilient.
“I am confident that through the hard work of the incredible teachers and staff, and the diligence of our community, our students will return to school safely in September.”
Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao said safety continues to be a top priority for Alberta’s government.
“When students return to class, schools will be implementing health measures such as frequent surface cleaning and planning school days to allow for social distancing. Since classes were first cancelled we have been clear that we will work with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the education system, and will adapt our school re-entry guidelines as necessary. You can be assured that our comprehensive re-entry plan will allow our students to return to school safely.”