Peace country schools joined much of the province as students from kindergarten to grade 12 returned to classrooms Tuesday morning.
Classes province-wide were moved to remote learning May 7 to limit the transmission of COVID-19 within schools.
As of the May 21, PWPSD has 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the month of May, compared to 51 in cases in total for the month of April, according to PWPSD.
"The safety of our staff, students, and their families continue to be our highest priority," said Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) Superintendent Bob Stewart. "We're continuing to follow all the guidelines that we've been using the entire year."
According to a release from the province, health precautions in classrooms include masks, cohorts, screening for symptoms and seating arrangements.
With only approximately 25 school days remaining and high school graduations around the corner, Stewart is urging the community to follow current public health guidance and schedule their vaccinations at the earliest opportunity.
PWPSD communications spokesperson Angela Sears said drive-in events are permitted under the province’s guidelines announced May 17 for graduation ceremonies.
“We hope to provide an announcement on graduation ceremony event plans soon, once schools have had time to finalize their planning,” Sears told Town & Country News.
Meanwhile, Stewart said he recognizes some parents may feel hesitation in sending their child back into the classroom environment. He said he supports parents in their decisions in whatever they believe is best for their child.
On May 19, the province announced an expansion of its rapid screening testing to schools in Grande Prairie.
Alberta Health Services says rapid testing will offer additional protective layers to schools by quickly identifying people who may carry the virus without symptoms.
Stewart said that Peace Wapiti Academy and the Clairmont Community School were included in the announcement to begin receiving rapid tests, but he told Town & Country News he has not received further information.
He said these schools have yet to begin using rapid test.
"Let's all do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure a strong finish to the 2020-21 school year," said Stewart.
Schools within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are not due to return to schools until May 31.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News