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July 2020 – Covid-19: 2020 Fall School Year Considerations

We have never seen our kids this much in our lives! It’s exciting, exhausting, uncertain, challenging, and did I mention exhausting? There are good tidings ahead.

The re-entry plan for Early Childhood Services to Grade 12 curriculum was part of the Alberta government’s relaunch strategy, originally announced back in April 30, 2020.

Originally three different scenarios were contemplated under the plan:

Scenario 1: in-school classes resume (near normal with health measures)

This option allowed for the near regular resumption of the planned calendar year with the school authorities provided discretion in directing the allotment of the 2019 – 2020 school calendar year. In addition, school authorities were to follow public health measures for children and student learning and extra-curricular activities including physical distancing when possible.

Scenario 2: in-school classes partially resume (with additional health measures)

Depending on the circumstances in each district of the city, school authorities are provided leeway into dividing children into two or more groups to go back to in-school classes on an alternating schedule. The calendar adjustments and general health considerations under

Scenario # 1 are warranted under Scenario #2 as well. More specific protocols should be emphasized as well such as bus transportation, parent drop off protocols, entry to school, how classes are scheduled, large gatherings, movement in hallways, use of auxiliary spaces and washroom hygiene.

Scenario 3: at-home learning continues (in-school classes are suspended/cancelled)

This is the worst-case scenario where at-home learning wrapped up at the end of June, continues. Content to be delivered varies by grade increments, but in the end the implementation is guardian dependant. Minimal direct class interaction will dictate ever more evolving parental involvement into the day to day assignments and preparations for quizzes and exams.

As at July 21, 2020, the Minister of Education has announced that schools will welcome students under Scenario 1 which includes the near-normal daily operations with health measures. Further updates were provided on August 4, 2020, where mandatory masks were announced for Grade 4 – 12 students and all staff, a direct compliance with the mandated mask city bylaw inacted on August 1, 2020.

There will be more than 1.6 million masks distributed to 740,000 students and 90,000 staff.

Additional single-use masks will be available at schools, if required.

Mask use will be mandatory for staff and teachers in all settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students will be required to wear them in all shared and common areas such as hallways and on buses. Exemptions will be made for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical or other needs.

Mask use for kindergarten to Grade 3 students will continue to be optional due to difficulties with proper fit and compliance for younger children. In addition, evidence shows that children under 10 may be less likely than older children or adults to transmit COVID-19.

However, please don’t be surprised if Scenario 1 quickly turns into Scenario 3. After all, ever since re-opening efforts have begun, and starting in early July, confirmed COVID-19 cases have more than tripled per day! While initially the higher age range groups had been targeted by the virus, recent data seems to indicate that the virus does not seem to have a preference.

With the restart of the school year, there may be options to work with your child’s school on fee incentives or postponements. Please talk to your child’s school at your earliest convenience to figure out all the options that may apply to you.

Steve Dimic 

Biography:

Steve Dimic is currently a LAWYER with SHIELD LAW, practicing in the areas of Civil Litigation (Employment, Contract, Personal Injury Law), Family Law and Criminal Law.

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www.shieldlawgroup.ca                 Calgary, Alberta T2G 5P9        

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