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Unique school year underway at École francophone d'Airdrie

Airdrie’s native French-speaking students will encounter a host of new health and safety protocols as they kick off the school year at École francophone d’Airdrie (ÉFA).

Airdrie’s native French-speaking students will encounter a host of new health and safety protocols as they kick off the school year at École francophone d’Airdrie (ÉFA).

The city's sole francophone school, which includes classes from preschool to Grade 12, has published a 14-page guide for parents outlining how the new school year will operate given the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide incorporates directives from Alberta Health Services, Alberta Education and Conseil scolaire FrancoSud – the francophone school district for southern Alberta.

“We firmly believe that it is by working together we will succeed in making this school year a success, despite the exceptional circumstances,” the guide stated, translated from French.

Like Airdrie’s public and Catholic schools, ÉFA saw a staggered start to classes during the first week. Students in grades 1, 3 and 5 will attend an orientation day Sept. 3, while students in grades 2, 4 and 6 attended Sept. 2. Split classrooms for students in grades 1-2, 2-3 and 5-6 will have their orientations Sept. 4.

The guide stated students in grades 7 to 9 will attend Sept. 3 and 4, while students in grades 10 to 12 will attend all three days during the first week. Like other local school divisions, full-time classes will commence Sept. 8.

Parents, meanwhile, are instructed to drop off their kids on the sidewalk along Ravenslea Crescent, according to the guide. Parents are not permitted to enter the school with their child and must say their farewells from a distance.

“If your child is late, please drop them off...and tell them to enter through the central door so they can report to the office,” the guide stated. “You cannot accompany them. The students walk towards the front east door [where] the teachers will welcome them inside the school.”

As per Alberta Education’s policies, students in grades 4 to 12 must wear a mask while riding the school bus, walking the halls or whenever physical distancing is not possible. ÉFA students in kindergarten to grade 3 are encouraged to wear a mask while they are in hallways or recreational areas, according to the school’s guide, and are mandated to wear them while riding the bus.

Each classroom at the school will be equipped with hand sanitizer and a sink for washing hands, the guide stated. Handwashing will be required before entering and leaving the classroom, before eating breaks, before and after a physical education class and before and after a lesson that requires the use of communal items like microscopes.

“Note that these objects will also be cleaned after each use by each user and that disinfectant wipes will be provided to the students,” the guide said.

Another change outlined in the guide has to do with lockers, which will not be allowed to be used during breaks. Students must have their school equipment in the classroom, in their bag or in a personal bin.

To reduce the number of students leaving at a time, the guide stated lunch breaks will be staggered, while the recess schedule will be modified to limit the number of children outside at the same time. A rotating lunch schedule will result in half the students eating lunch while the other half is outside for recess, and vice-versa.

At the end of the school day, the youngest students leave first and will be escorted by their teachers to their respective buses. Each student will have an assigned place, with students' names written above it. Students in other grades will follow suit.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

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