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Schools to remain vigilant when classes resume

The city's learning institutions will remain cautious when classes start next month.
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The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools will continue to follow a staggered start when classes for school year 2021-2022 open in September.

SASKATOON — Learning institutions in the city are going to remain cautious once the 2020-2021 school year opens on Sept. 1. The Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools will have a staggered start with their students from kindergarten to Grade 8. Students in Collegiate schools will also have a staggered start.

Kindergarten to Grade 8 students, whose last names begin from letters A to K, attending GSCS-run schools will come to class on the first day while those from L to Z report the next day. In Catholic high schools, incoming Grade 9 students will take the morning classes while Grades 10 to 12 will take the other half of the first day of the school year. Normal cases with all students from all Catholic schools will be on Sept. 3.

GSCS Communications Consultant Derrick Kunz said they would continue to coordinate with the Saskatchewan Health Authority on their plans for the school year.

“We’re consulting with local medical health officers, as we have done throughout the pandemic, for advice and guidance on how to keep students and staff safe. We will develop plans based on their recommendations and share with parents. We're aiming to have plans shared late this week or early next week. As always, as things change, we’ll respond and adapt,” said Kunz.

The Saskatoon Public Schools, according to Communications and Marketing Manager Veronica Baker said the board is still reviewing what to do this coming school year.

“[SPS] is currently working on plans for fall operations that will continue to support the health and safety of students and staff members. Once finalized, information will be shared with all school families later this month,” said Baker.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Saskatoon, which operates before and after school programs in various schools in the city, said they are going to stick to the health advisory released by the provincial government.

“We will be following any guidelines put in place by the government as well as any additional operational guidelines the school divisions will be putting in place. As far as vaccinations, that’s someone’s choice, we will not be asking that of someone,” said BGCS before and after school program manager Dina Fedoriuk.

The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, last month, said they are going back to the pre-pandemic operations based on the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s decision to lift all health protocols and COVID-19 restrictions that was implemented the previous year. STF said, on its website, restrictions will no longer be followed for the 2020-2021 school year based on the re-opening roadmap by the province.

Government officials have been advising individuals to get vaccinated and reminded those who feel COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and have themselves tested. They are also encouraged to continue following personal hygiene and other cleaning protocols.

Saskatchewan Polytech and University of Saskatchewan have also released their respective announcements for the coming fall semester. Classes at Polytech begin Aug. 31 while USask starts on Sept. 2. Both learning institutions encourage their students and personnel to get fully vaccinated.

“[We] strongly encourage employees and students to get the COVID-19 vaccination. While it is not required, it is a critical step in protecting yourself and the community at large. [SHA] will host a vaccination clinic on each main campus during Welcome Week, August 30 to September 3. Details will be shared in the near future,” Sask Polytech said on its website.

“[Sask Polytech] is actively monitoring the changing COVID-19 landscape. The health and safety of students and employees remains our top priority and continues to guide our decision-making. Masks are required indoors at all campus locations. Enhanced cleaning protocols will remain in place when campuses reopen, and more students and employees transition back to the workplace in Fall 2021.”

USask, on its website, said they expect all of their students as well as faculty and staff to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization in time for the fall term, before coming back to the campuses.

USask is requiring everyone to provide a proof of vaccination on Sept. 7 (first dose) and October 18 (second dose). Those who fail to comply or who don’t want to get vaccinated must regularly present a negative COVID-19 test result and to submit to daily symptom checks before being allowed to enter USask campuses.

“The science is unequivocal and overwhelming: vaccinations are the clearest path to beating COVID-19 and its dangerous variants. We are eager to resume as much in-person teaching, learning and research as we possibly can by January. Only widespread vaccination and testing throughout our campuses can make this happen,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff.

“The health and safety of our campuses is a shared responsibility that requires all members of our university community to do their part. These new measures are endorsed by the university’s senior leadership and our Board of Governors. I am confident that these new measures will further protect the health and safety of our university community and of communities beyond.”