Fort McMurray School Divisions Preparing for Safe Return to School
(FORT MCMURRAY, AB – August 19, 2020) On March 12, 2020 students in Fort McMurray left their classrooms at the end of school like any other day. Many knew the world was changing, but they wouldn’t have known it was their last traditional school day of the 2019/2020 school year. Our staff collectively changed instruction in a very short time and made off-site learning a success during incredibly trying times.
Once again we look to collective flexibility from all as we pivot back to on-site instruction for the 2020/2021 school year. As Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced on July 21, all Alberta school divisions will begin this school year in scenario #1, which means on-site instruction.
Fort McMurray Catholic Schools and Fort McMurray Public School Division are actively planning for a safe return to school. We will continue to communicate directly with families as we prepare for the beginning of the school year on August 31, 2020.
As residents of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, we can collectively help lay the groundwork for a successful 2020/21 school year.
“These last five months have been hard for all of us to varying degrees. It is key that we continue to work together, and be there for each other, throughout the coming school year. With many new protocols and procedures in place, we know that our students, families, teachers and staff will encounter moments of stress and uncertainty. With compassion, patience, love and strength, we will continue to work together to provide a supportive and successful environment for our children, staff and families. Our Catholic teachings ask us to ‘love your neighbour as yourself,’” states Cathie Langmead, Board Chair, Fort McMurray Catholic Schools.
“The FMPSD Board is grateful for the work done towards re-entry throughout the summer by our senior leaders and school-based staff. Their ongoing thoroughness, diligence and willingness to both ask and receive comments and questions at all levels, demonstrates our goal of a plan focused on the health and safety of staff, students and families of FMPSD,” comments Linda Mywaart, Board Chair, Fort McMurray Public Schools.
“Staff at FMPSD are looking forward to connecting with students and families again. As we relaunch the school year, the priority remains your health and safety. We are working hard to implement all requirements and recommendations made by the medical health officer and we will continue to update our re-entry plan as new information and updates are available. We thank our community for their care and concern as we navigate a fluid situation,” notes Jennifer Turner, Fort McMurray Public Schools Superintendent.
“We are excited to welcome our children back to school. We have been planning for this day since we moved to off-site learning in mid March. What a great community we are blessed to live in. Together, we have kept COVID-19 relatively at bay. We all need to work together to keep it that way. Please follow the guidelines as set by our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hinshaw. We need your full community support as we return to on-site learning,” adds George McGuigan, Fort McMurray Catholic Schools Superintendent.
“I would like to thank Fort McMurray Catholic Schools and the Fort McMurray Public School Division for their leadership and adaptability in supporting the needs of our students and families during these dynamic times. We are all in this together and with continued collaboration and personal commitment to following the public health guidelines, we can help keep our community safe and support students as they return to the classroom,” says Mayor Don Scott, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
“Welcome back to school! Things might look a little different this year, but I know that we are strong and resilient in Fort McMurray. I am confident that through the hard work of the incredible teachers and staff, and the diligence of our community, our students will return to school safely in September,” shares Laila Goodridge, MLA, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
“The safety of students and school staff continues to be a top priority for Alberta’s government. When students return to class, schools will be implementing health measures such as frequent surface cleaning and planning school days to allow for social distancing. Since classes were first cancelled we have been clear that we will work with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the education system, and will adapt our school re-entry guidelines as necessary. You can be assured that our comprehensive re-entry plan will allow our students to return to school safely,” adds Tany Yao, MLA, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
Fort McMurray Public and Catholic Schools have both created web pages to support families looking for more information. And there will be mental health supports available for all students. Physically distant does not mean socially disconnected. We are all in this together.