Pam Hansen/WCPS Board Chair

Pam Hansen/WCPS Board Chair

COLUMN: WCPS looking ahead and preparing for 2020-21 school year

‘We have wrapped up certainly an unprecedented and challenging school year’

We have wrapped up certainly an unprecedented and challenging school year and we know, more than any other summer, many of you are already mindful and thinking of the coming school year.

Firstly, a tremendous sense of appreciation and gratitude must be given to all our partners in education, and specifically speaking across Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS). From teachers to support staff, students and parents and the broader community, you have all done a great job through an ever evolving time, and we as a Board commend you for your resilience and strength.

As we look to the next school year, a significant collaborative focus has been made at WCPS, and that work continues over the summertime. As you are aware COVID-19 is still with us in Alberta, and across the globe. Education Minister Adriana LaGrange addressed Albertans June 10, 2020 to share additional plans for what the next school year could be like for students, as we navigate through the public health risks of COVID-19. She reiterated three possible scenarios that had been shared with Albertans.

Those scenarios are:

  1. Normal school operations are able to resume
  2. Schools are partially reopened, with some level of restrictions
  3. Teacher-directed at-home learning continues

Minister LaGrange said that although it is still uncertain, as a province they are hoping and aiming for Scenario #1 (normal school operations are able to resume) with additional health measures, and safety procedures in place, and we too are hoping for the same. But, LaGrange admitted that scenarios can change as local health needs dictate.

WCPS has spent considerable time in creating a Re-Entry Guidance Plan for September to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment, while preserving the kind of classroom structure students are accustomed to. The Re-Entry Guidance Plan, which has been shared with all staff for feedback, focuses on several areas essential to a safe return to schools in the fall and a commitment to the health of students, staff and the public health at large.

The focus includes, but is not limited to: enhanced cleaning, self-screening for families and staff, as well as daily precautions to protect others, procurement of protective personal equipment (PPE), additional staffing and resources to address these needs, as well as an ongoing commitment to communication with families and the community. In relation to these measures, we as the WCPS Board of Trustees have committed an additional $400,000 from reserves to address supplies, staff, resources and contingency as part of school re-entry plans for September.

The Government of Alberta has stated that by August 1, 2020 they will inform school divisions and all Albertans what scenario for school Re-Entry we can expect. As stated, we are all hoping and focused on Scenario #1, while preparing for all three scenarios. Following direction from the Alberta Government, the school division and local schools will finalize individual school plans by mid-august and share them with families in advance of the school year.

In the meantime, as a Board we sincerely hope you all enjoy your summer, have some time to recharge and relax, connect with family, and stay safe and stay healthy.

Pamela Hansen is Board Chair of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS). WCPS Board of Trustees consists of six trustees representing the communities and rural areas of Alix, Bentley, Blackfalds, Bluffton, Clive, Eckville, Lacombe, Ponoka, and Rimbey. Serving approximately 7,300 students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, WCPS employs approximately 412 teachers and 350 support staff in 30 schools, including five colony schools, throughout the Division.