Students in the South East Cornerstone Public School Division returned on Sept. 8 and 9.
In-person classes for the 2019-20 school year ending abruptly last March due to the uncertainty of the global pandemic. The Saskatchewan Health Authority [SHA] and the Cornerstone Division are taking precautions to see that all students choosing to return to the hallways are doing so safely.
All students were given credit for the previous school year and advanced to the next grade. Many students continued their studies online, giving them the best opportunity to be well prepared for a return to class in the fall.
With no approved vaccine at this time for the virus it is an unknown entity to what perils COVID-19 will present in the schools, so the opening of schools is coming with some trepidation among teachers, students and parents.
The SHA has set forth guidelines for all schools opening which they must be in accordance with to reopen. The Saskatchewan Medical Association has urged more caution on the reopening, asking the SHA to set the safety bar at the highest level and using the highest standards possible to see everyone stays safe.
The Indian Head Elementary School had to postpone the opening of its elementary school due to a positive test of COVID-19 of a staff member and will begin the school year online.
Locally at the Carlyle Elementary School the students have experienced a staggered reopening, with half the students going to class Tuesday and half of them starting on Wednesday. Beginning on Thursday Sept 10 all students will be in class each day.
The students also are being split up to enter the building, the school is using four different doors to access the school and students will enter in three stages at 8:50, 8:55 and 9 a.m., all supervised by the teachers to see that the children are physically distancing while entering to go to their classrooms.
For recess the students will also be split into groups. The Carlyle Elementary School has the luxury of two separate playgrounds making this process a little less daunting for all involved. The playgrounds are sectioned off and recesses will also be staggered ensuring that students can physical distance and only have contact with their own classroom. The number of classes at each recess is limited and dependent on which playground they are designated to.
Teachers will be wearing masks at all times when with students. The students are not required to wear masks at this time, which could change if the circumstances change due to the virus.
It is the choice of the parent and student whether they want to wear a mask. It is also the choice of the parents whether they send their children to the school. Each family has the option of accessing Cyberstone, which is the online school for the division. Parents also have the option to home school as well.
Tyler Fehrenbach, who is the principal of Carlyle Elementary, was pleased that the first day went smoothly.
“Only having half the kids made it easier to introduce the children to the new routine.”