Local public school students will not start school on the same day this September.
At a special meeting Aug. 20, the Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees approved staggered start dates for schools around the division. Classes will begin on Sept. 2, 3 and 4 for the 2020-21 school year.
“This is not a typical school year and the start is not going to be typical,” said Superintendent Greg Luterbach.
“There’s going to be lots of changes in our schools, [surrounding] the flow of traffic around the school, what recess looks like, where [students] are eating lunch, how [they] get on and off the bus, those kinds of things.”
Each school in the division has the autonomy to select which grades will attend on which date, Luterbach said. Students will only attend one of those three days and will be given an orientation outlining new health and safety protocols.
“We would have kids in smaller groups, we would walk them through various safety protocols, including school entry and exiting, traffic flows, accessing washrooms, riding the bus – all those different bits and pieces,” Luterbach said.
“We know this makes for a bit of a reduction in our overall instructional time, but we know we have some flexibility in those numbers and we understand this is not a typical year. We think this time spent on transition will be valuable to help support both students and staff get off to a positive start.”
Trustees approved the motion unanimously.
“It’s a challenging time and as a school board, we’re limited in what we can do in some of these scenarios,” said Melyssa Bowen, the board's vice-chair. “But I think making sure we get the best start for the students and they have the opportunity to get used to some of those safety protocols is a good opportunity for us to support staff and students.”
Ward 3 trustee Jim Forrest agreed, adding a staggered start would present an ideal way for students to ease into what will be a unique school year and gives them the opportunity to become familiar with the new measures.
“We can have all kinds of procedures in place and ways of doing things, but if we can’t get the kids to manage it and understand it, I think our chances of a successful reopening are lessened,” he said. “By having smaller groups of kids come in over the three days, it will absolutely, in my opinion, give the staff the ability to ensure the kids have understood what they need to do, where they need to be, how they need to come into the school. With that being done, our chances of success are a lot higher.”
Following the staggered start, full-time classes will begin Sept. 8 for all RVS students in grades 1 to 12, Luterbach said.