Local school officials are responding to the provincial government’s decision to have near normal classes this fall.

A number of health measures will be in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 like frequent cleaning of surfaces, sanitizer stations, and grouping students in cohorts.

Lethbridge School Division Superintendent, Cheryl Gilmore says there has been a lot of discussion on what things are going to look like come September. “Schools have been thoughtful about what that looks like in terms of student engagement and student activity in the classroom. Thoughtful about how classrooms will be structured, like having students facing a different way (not facing each other).”

Gilmore says the public district will be putting out another parent survey in early August in regards to things like bus transportation for students.

“If they are a parent of a student who qualifies to take the bus,” says Gilmore. “Whether or not they’re (parents) able to provide transportation to their own children to school. Busing protocols will include seating plans, will be making recommendations or requiring to have masks.”

Gilmore also says there will likely be directional arrows in hallways (similar to what you see in grocery stores), markings on the floors for physical distancing, and a different nature when it comes to supervision where students will be kept at a distance where possible.

She also notes the public division will be looking at what does it mean for students to learn and understand and know about what their own safety protocols are. “So certainly we’ve been very vigilant in putting together a good program for students when they come back so they understand how they can take care of themselves when it comes to hand washing, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and where possible cohorting students (keeping students as much as possible in the same groupings).”

Gilmore also addressed challenges around physical distancing when it comes to younger kids, saying staff will be kept very much in the know when it comes to what protocols need to be followed. She says you can’t guarantee 100% student compliance with everything. “I think schools will have a lot of structures in place to make sure all these things happen, and happen well.”

She notes the provincial protocols suggest the only adults that enter the building (schools) are of necessity. “If a parent has an appointment or has an important reason to be in the school. So we won’t see what we often see in schools where parents come in to the school to pick their children up. Our schools will have plans in place for parents picking their children up and dropping them off outside the schools.”

The reason for that is every parents who enter would have to go through the COVID-19 screening protocols. “The priority is keep our staff and children safe.”