First day back to school has some parents excited, worried about year ahead

·3 min read
Students at Falconridge School in the city's northeast returned to classrooms on Tuesday, thanks to the CBE's modified calendar for some schools.  (Lucie Edwardson/CBC - image credit)
Students at Falconridge School in the city's northeast returned to classrooms on Tuesday, thanks to the CBE's modified calendar for some schools. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC - image credit)

Parents are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead as classes begin this week for some schools on the Calgary Board of Education's modified calendar.

Last week, the province announced back-to-school guidelines that don't mandate in-class masks but will include school-based vaccinations.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, along with Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, announced Friday that school officials have the authority to put in local measures — such as physical distancing, cohorting and mandatory masking — if those decisions are right for them and their communities.

"Thanks to the power of vaccines and the dedication of Albertans, parents, students and school staff can look forward to a normal school year this September, which includes a return to in-person classes, field trips, team sports, extracurricular clubs, school celebrations and reconnecting with friends and colleagues," said LaGrange.

In a letter from the CBE dated Aug. 11, it said mandatory masking will remain in place for all staff and students going back to school on Aug.17.

Other measures included hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning, as well asking students and staff to follow a daily checklist to identify if they should attend or stay home.

"As the school year begins, we will be monitoring the situation closely and following the direction of health authorities to ensure that we are doing everything possible to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and workplaces," the CBE says in the letter.

Lucie Edwardson/CBC
Lucie Edwardson/CBC

At Falconridge School in the city's northeast, some kids were returning to classrooms Tuesday for the first time after more than a year of learning online from home.

Jayda Shariff told CBC News on Tuesday she's beginning Grade 4.

"I'm just excited to meet, like, new people, my new teacher and like learn new things."

Her mother, Zahra Bhatia, says Jayda did online learning last year, and they're happy to get her back into a normal routine.

"She's in school for six hours a day, normally, and an hour and a half class wasn't really beneficial for her," she said.

"I think it's more of social isolation … you know, she missed out on a lot of learning aspects."

However, she adds that it's still a bit nerve-racking heading back to school.

"I felt great when her teacher called me last week and told us that they are still doing a mask mandate and, you know, taking precautions and stuff. That made us feel a little bit more comfortable."

Roma Kebede is sending her son, Amir, back to school this year, but says she is ready to pull him out if necessary.

"I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home if need be.… I'm ready any day to keep them at home if I have to and transfer to online if they gave me that option."

Lucie Edwardson/CBC
Lucie Edwardson/CBC

She adds that while she is thankful for the school continuing its mask mandate, she is looking forward to when children can be vaccinated.

"Our whole house is fully vaccinated. It's just my son, obviously, because he doesn't qualify right now," she said. "I think there is no option. We need to be vaccinated."

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