The Commission scolaire de langue française de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard hopes for a more “normal” start to the school year, with some COVID-19 safety precautions in place and optional masking – as they had done at the end of the last school year.
“It’s very important for social and emotional learning as well as for our children to get back to normal,” said council superintendent Gilles Arsenault.
However, the board is awaiting the official recommendation of the province’s Chief Public Health Office before making a firm decision on masking when classes start on September 7.
“We are going to maintain many of our good practices for health reasons that we probably should have had before COVID and plan to maintain after COVID,” Arsenault said.
“Hand sanitizing is really important and we’re going to be looking at the air quality in our schools and in our bedrooms…washing our high-use surfaces, so those healthy practices that we’re going to continue in the French Language School Board .”
Undecided masking requirement
Unless otherwise specified, masks will be optional in French-language schools on the Island. The Public Schools Branch, which represents the 56 English-language public schools on the Island, is also waiting to establish masking requirements until it receives direction from the CHPCA.
“At the end of this last school year, we had no masks, but those who wanted to continue wearing their masks were encouraged to do so,” Arsenault said.
“We would provide the masks to those students and staff, and we plan to do the same this year as well.”
With less than two weeks to go back to school, there has still been no official mask-wearing recommendation from the Chief Office of Public Health.
But Arsenault said CPHA is the expert on COVID-19, and he thinks school boards will be comfortable moving forward in the direction they propose.
“I guess they’re looking at the stats and looking at what’s going on with the situation in PEI and it’s evolving every day, and I think we’ve seen some great advice from their office,” did he declare.
“They want to make sure they are making the right calls for the health and safety of every Islander…they have some time to review the situation and how the situation will evolve over the next few weeks so they can let us know the process that ‘they will recommend.’
A message for parents
Arsenault said he wants parents and caregivers of children in the French Language School Board to know that schools are ready for whatever September brings.
“We will do our best, as we have done in the past, to make sure health and safety issues are taken care of and to make sure they feel comfortable coming back to buildings. secure,” he said.
“Teachers and staff are delighted to welcome them back, hopefully in a normal setting for education.”