Norbert Carpenter, acting director of the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch, says he is keen to see Island students back in school next week.
"It's sort of like those practices in sports. We've been going through everything and we just need the game to start," Carpenter told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier .
"We're really looking forward to Tuesday and Wednesday of next week — and we are ready."
Carpenter was speaking on the Friday before what is likely the most unusual start to a P.E.I. school year ever.
Schools on the Island have been closed since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will start this year with many precautions in place, and also with the understanding that schools could close again if an outbreak arises.
Teachers have been back in the schools this week, going over the procedures established to keep students safe, and reviewing plans for a return to online learning should that become necessary. Preparing students for that possibility will be one of the first tasks next week.
On Aug. 5, P.E.I. released a comprehensive plan for the reopening of schools, which included a strong recommendation for wearing masks. Last week the province amended those rules, making mask-wearing mandatory in some places and circumstances.
Carpenter said there may be some clarification of the mask-wearing policy in the coming days, but no major changes.
"Some students have some fears and some anxieties, as do parents, about wearing masks — when they have to wear them and what does mandatory actually mean," he said.
"I think it's incumbent upon us to provide as much clarity as possible when it comes to masking and its importance."
There will be masks at the school for students who don't have them or have forgotten them at home.
A call to sign up
With so many things changing so quickly, and parents having so many questions, now is a great time to get involved in Home and School, says provincial federation president Heather Mullen.
Mullen said the federation is currently discussing plans for a possible return to online learning with the PSB.
"There's some needed training with students and parents, who are really hoping that's going to happen very early in September," she said.
"Nobody really knows what the future holds as this pandemic rolls. Everything can change day by day and week by week. So we just want to make sure that parents and students are also prepared to pivot should we have to do an online learning process again."
Carpenter said he values that feedback.
Working to bring answers
Carpenter said he believes that, unlike the problems seen in other provinces, teachers on P.E.I. are confident with the measures that have been put in place.
"We've had a great deal of positive feedback," he said.
"There's been many questions — and rightfully so — back to us, and we've been doing our best to answer those."
Carpenter said he hopes school officials, teachers and parents will be able to continue to work constructively together as the school year moves forward.
More from CBC P.E.I.