Medicine Hat School boards ready to go when students return to class

·2 min read

The Medicine Hat Public and Catholic school divisions are ready for a return to the classroom.

The province announced Thursday that students would be returning to class on a full-time basis on Monday. This was the plan in late November when older students were sent home to learn online.

Public school superintendent Mark Davidson says his schools are ready for any scenario.

“We are ready for students to return on Jan. 11 if that is what occurs,” said Davidson. “The education minister and Alberta Health will set out guidelines and it is up to us to follow them.

“We will be ready for every scenario possible.”

Davidson says cleaning staff have been working hard over the break to make sure schools are in tip-top shape when students and teachers return.

“Custodial staff did what they normally do with a break – go into those deeper and harder-to-reach areas around schools,” said Davidson. “We’ve also updated some cleaning supplies around schools as a result of some changes by Alberta Health Services.

“As far as readiness, we’re as prepared to have students back as we were when the year kicked off at the beginning of September.”

Davidson says the school board is well stocked on sanitizer and masks for the remainder of the school year. He added that the board’s last interaction with Alberta Health around a COVID-19 case was around the last day of school before the break.

“We don’t know what happened with students and staff over the break, so we’re hoping everyone is safe and smart about returning,” said Davidson.

He added that the online learning hub through MHPSD has kept a consistent number of students through the year – around 460.

Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education Dwayne Zarichny the Catholic board is prepared for students to return.

“It is our intention that schools will be opening Monday,” he said. “We believe the classroom is the best place for students to learn and we’re really excited to see them.”

Zarichny says extra cleaning staff that was hired on at the beginning of the school year has been retained and is ready to go for the next round of in-person learning.

At the beginning of the year, the Catholic board had around 60 students using online learning and the number has slowly dropped over the weeks. Zarichny says he knows of 10 more students who will be coming back to class when they are able to.

“That’s very exciting for us,” he said. “The best learning occurs when the students are in class with their teachers.”

Zarichny says there have been three COVID-19 cases linked to Catholic schools so far in the school year.

“As of (Thursday) we are not aware of any cases in our students or staff,” he said.

Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News