French Language School Board on P.E.I. hoping for more 'normal' school year

·3 min read
The French Language School Board on P.E.I. says some COVID-19 health and safety protocols will remain in place for now but it is waiting for the province's Chief Public Health Office for direction on masking. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
The French Language School Board on P.E.I. says some COVID-19 health and safety protocols will remain in place for now but it is waiting for the province's Chief Public Health Office for direction on masking. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

The French Language School Board in Prince Edward Island is hoping for a more "normal" start to the school year, with some COVID-19 safety precautions in place, and optional masking — like they had at the end of the last school year.

"It's very important for the social and emotional learning as well for our children to be back in the normal setting," said board superintendant Gilles Arsenault.

However, the board is waiting for the official recommendation from the province's Chief Public Health Office before making a firm decision on masking.

"We're going to keep a lot of our good practices going for health reasons that we should have had probably prior to COVID and that we are planning on keeping after COVID," said Arsenault.

Sally Pitt/CBC
Sally Pitt/CBC

"Hand sanitizing is really important and we're going to look at the air quality in our schools and in our rooms ... washing our high-use surfaces, so those healthy practices we're going to continue in the French Language School Board."

Masking requirement undecided

Unless directed otherwise, masks will be optional in the Island's French language schools. The Public Schools Branch which represents the Island's 56 English public schools is also holding off on setting masking requirements until receiving direction from the CPHO.

"At the end of this last school year, we had no masks, but the ones who wanted to keep wearing their masks were encouraged to do so," said Arsenault.

"We would provide the masks to those students and staff members, and we're planning to do the same this year as well."

With the start of the school year less than two weeks away, there has still been no official recommendation with respect to masking from the Chief Public Health Office.

But Arsenault said the CPHO is the experts on COVID-19, and he believes the school boards will be comfortable moving forward in whatever direction they provide.

"I would assume that they are looking at the stats and looking at what's going with the situation in P.E.I. and it's evolving every day, and I think we have seen great guidance from their office," he said.

"They want to make sure they make the right calls for the health and security of every Islander ... they have a little bit of time to look at the situation and how the situation will evolve in the next few weeks to be able to let us know the process that they're going to be recommending."

A message for parents

Arsenault said he wants parents and caregivers of children in the French Language School Board to know that schools are prepared for whatever September brings.

"We'll be doing the best that we can as we have in the past to make sure that the health and safety issues are looked after and to make sure that they feel comfortable coming back to secure buildings," he said.

"Teachers and staff are excited to welcome them back hopefully into a normal setting for education."