Kiefer Sully strolls by the new playground as he heads towards his assigned door at Eckville Elementary School on the morning of Sept. 2. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Eckville Echo

Kiefer Sully strolls by the new playground as he heads towards his assigned door at Eckville Elementary School on the morning of Sept. 2. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Eckville Echo

Return to class has gone better than expectation, WCPS says

Staff with Wolf Creek Public Schools say the return to in-class teaching has gone very well

The back to school season can be a stressful time. Add to it learning new routines and procedures can make getting back into the classroom can increase stress and anxiety for students, parents and staff.

Wolf Creek Public Schools says the first month or so of school has gone very well. Sonja Dykslag, principal of École Lacombe Upper Elementary School, says the return to in class learning as gone extremely well.

“Coming back to the school could not have gone better,” Dykslag said. “It has gone well beyond expectation, and we are just so happy to be back.”

Dykslag added, she expected there to be hiccups and problems along the way, however that never really came.

“We were really afraid that the kids would be fearful coming back into the school or if we have to send them home because they have symptoms, but they aren’t,” Dykslag said. “They all seem to understand that it is just symptoms.”

Wolf Creek Public School’s Superintendent Jayson Lovell says the return to in-class learning has gone extremely well.

Lovell accredits the successful return to the classroom to the school board’s reentry plan. He said the plan had three layers to it.

“There are really three layers. There was the government plan, our plan and then each school had their own individual plan,” said Lovell.

“Creating a plan where safety was at the forefront was the most important thing to us.”

Both Dykslag and Lovell say they were really happy with the staggered start to classes this year.

Dykslag said she was such a fan that she would like to see it return every year.

The staggered start gave the staff and students a chance to ease in to the new school year, Lovell said.

“The staggered start was a blessing in disguise… It gave the kids a chance to figure out the playground zones and things like that,” said Dykslag.

She added, the staggered start helped the students learn the layout of the school while also giving staff more one-on-one time with fewer students.

Cohorts look different in each school and at different levels. In elementary schools, classes have always been set up in a cohort way, where students stay in one classroom for the majority of the day.

In the larger high schools in the district, École Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School and Ponoka Secondary Campus, classes have been moved to a six week semester. This means the students at these schools take two classes over six weeks, thus limiting their contact with others and creating a cohort.

At smaller rural schools, such as those in Eckville and Rimbey, Lovell says there is plenty of space available to social distance students.

“Eckville, for example, is probably our smallest school, but it was built for a large capacity. As such there is a lot of room for the students to move about and practice social distancing,” Lovell said.

Each school in the district has created its own plan for cohorts and social distancing based on the school’s layout.

Dykslag and Lovell say they are grateful for the hard work staff, students and family have put in to this new school year, and the new protocols in place.

“We are incredibly appreciative of the adaptability of our students and families. They are doing the health and wellness checks each morning and working with us,” said Lovell.