Lac La Biche elementary and high school students will be heading back into the classroom this September.
Although Lac La Biche just announced their first COVID-19 case, schools will still be operating close to their normal, as they will be moving into scenario 1, which involves additional health protocols to help keep the children safe from the potential spread of COVID-19.
Every school is required to clean surfaces more frequently, have hand sanitizer at the entrances of the school and in every classroom, and to plan the school day so students can be socially distanced. At this point, students will not be required to wear masks to school.
Laila Goodridge, the MLA for Fort-McMurray and Lac La Biche, says each school is allowed to adjust the protocols so they can do what’s best for their students.
“Our comprehensive school re-entry plan allows for an approach to be based on what is best for each individual school. They will be given the authority and the ability to adjust to what’s best for their region and their particular school environment,” said Goodridge.
Every student will be given a re-entry tool kit to go over with their parents so everyone will know what to expect for the upcoming school year.
The tool-kit will have comprehensive videos for families to watch so they can learn about the health and safety measures schools will be following.
There will also be a self-screening questionnaire students will have to take frequently to determine if they are fit to attend class that day.
“There will be a lot of education that will come around what social distancing is and why it’s important, how germs spread, and the importance of hand-washing and using hand sanitizer. Students will be taught good hygiene practices they can learn and take into their life,” said Goodridge.
Goodridge is confident schools will be able to keep their children safe as they start to open back up again.
“We have seen a successful reopening of our childcare centers across the province since March,” said Goodridge.
“We started reopening childcare centers shortly after they were closed for children of essential workers, and based on how well that went, we have been able to move ahead with our recovery plan and have students returning to school in September.”
Additional funding to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in schools
To help support an environment that lowers the risk of COVID-19, the province has given schools an additional $250 million dollars that can go towards making schools safer for students and staff.
The money will go towards hands-free sinks, automatic flush toilets, non-touch soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors, and water bottle filling stations so students do not have to use water fountains.
With the additional protocols, funding, and infrastructure in place, Goodridge is looking forward to having Lac La Biche students in a classroom environment again, and is impressed with how the hamlet has handled the pandemic so far.
“North Eastern Alberta, especially Lac La Biche, has done exceptionally well at taking personal responsibility to help mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 within our communities,” said Goodridge.
“I think the low number of cases we have seen really speaks to the fact that most of Northern Eastern Alberta has been taking this exceptionally seriously. We are really good at following the rules, and that’s why we are be able to accommodate this next step of the recovery plan.”