Since the start of COVID-19, many students had been doing online learning, but since the province of Alberta has lifted COVID-19 restrictions, many students will be able to attend in-person learning. The Palliser School Division had recently submitted their re-entry plan for the upcoming school year. The local division has provided information to all parents and students who will be attending this coming school year. “The safety of our students and staff remains our foremost concern. We recognize our plan must be flexible, and we remain responsive to the direction and guidance of Alberta Education and Alberta Health,” said Dave Driscoll, superintendent of the Palliser School Division. Schools will continue protocols to reduce crowding and support physical distancing between all students and staff in areas where masks are not used. Immunizations will be available through temporary clinics in schools for students in Grades 7 to 12 — as well as teachers and staff, starting Sept. 7 until Oct. 15. The expectation for close contact in school is Alberta Health Services (AHS) no longer identifies or follows-up with individual close contact, and quarantine for close contacts is no longer mandatory for Alberta schools. In the current re-entry plan, Palliser supports students through a comprehensive wellness goal. Palliser also recognizes mental health and well-being are tied to academic and personal success, and as such, are committed to providing mental health supports to students and families. “We see some challenges ahead, but we also see some great opportunities. Many of our schools learned some great lessons on how we can do stuff differently from being in the COVID state and carrying those things into this (school) year and looking forward to a great year,” said Driscoll. Under Alberta’s privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, staff must respect the health privacy of students, including their vaccination status.
Jaxon McGinn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sunny South News