‘It’s going to look a little different this year’: New back-to-school responsibilities for K-12 students


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Education Minister Adriana LaGrange also toured St. John XXIII Friday, but media were not invited to join her. LaGrange’s press secretary Colin Aitchison said in an emailed statement she appreciated the visit.

“It is clear that the school division has taken steps to create a safe school re-entry environment for their staff and students,” he said.

Friday morning, about 10 demonstrators were outside the school with signs calling for more provincial support for safe classrooms.

Without a cap on class sizes or additional space to physically distance, teachers trying to adhere to public health guidelines have had to get creative.

St. John XXIII band teacher Julie Scott fashioned a foot pedal-triggered hand sanitizer station out of a drum kit high-hat, and has a plan to clean the room regularly and distribute cleaning cloths to every student to sanitize everything before every class.

Music teacher Julie Scott used a cymbal as a platform for a foot-pedal operated sanitizing station, August 28, 2020.
Music teacher Julie Scott used a cymbal as a platform for a foot-pedal operated sanitizing station on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

“It’s going to be different, but it’s going to be fun,” said Scott. Her classroom, outfitted with 31 drums and potentially 31 students, is going to be very tight, she said.

“I wish we could expand the walls. It is concerning, and everyone has a similar concern,” said Scott.

Kids at St. John XXIII will be coordinated in groups that alternate to go to the bathroom for hand-washing, or scheduled separately to go outside for lunch or recess. Some classes will spread out into spaces like the library.

While Edmonton Catholic has not yet calculated its final online and in-person enrolment numbers — the deadline for families to choose is Friday — Kovacs said all of his staff are coming back to work.

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