(A letter to parents and caregivers from Barry MacDougall, Director of Education, Saskatoon Public Schools)
On Thursday, the provincial government announced the health guidelines for returning to in-class learning for prekindergarten to Grade 12 students in September. You can view the guidelines here. They establish expectations for proper hand hygiene practices, limiting physical contact, encouraging physical distancing, limiting shared materials, and increased cleaning and sanitizing. The guidelines may be updated depending on the impact of COVID-19 over the summer and contingency plans will be in place in the event of an elevated risk of transmission, both regionally and provincially. However, we are currently planning for mandatory curricular learning in the fall with all students returning to school full time.
While this announcement provides some guidance for fall, the operating logistics for each school need to be determined. While students finish supplemental learning today, school staff will be working next week, reacclimatizing themselves with their workplace and collaborating on plans for how to make our schools as safe as possible for the return of students on September 1.
Last week, we asked you to complete a survey about your at-home learning experiences and concerns for returning to school in the fall. We received more than 5,300 responses, which is phenomenal. Thank you for taking the time to share this valuable feedback with us. Earlier this month, we surveyed our staff and received a similarly impressive response with nearly 1,000 taking part. The insights and comments we have received from families and staff members will help inform our planning for the fall.
While this year wraps up, work will continue through the summer to ensure we are ready for a return to classes. As we get closer to September, plans for school operations and what your children can expect when they return to school will be shared. Please know that in all our planning, the safety and well being of students and staff members is paramount.
In July, I will be retiring after working for this school division for 32 years. I have been proud to be a part of Saskatoon Public Schools every day of my career, but never more so than the last three months. The professionalism and dedication of our staff has been outstanding. Shane Skjerven, the current deputy director and a champion of students, will be the new director.
This school year has been one for the history books. Thank you for your understanding and support through all the ups and downs. I hope you and your family have a safe and restful summer.
Barry MacDougall, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools