Black Gold delays the start of 2020-2021 school year
Nisku, Alberta (August 25, 2020) – Black Gold School Division (BGSD) Board of Trustees yesterday passed a motion to push back the first day of school to September 8, 2020, and begin staggered entry from September 8-10, with full classes starting on September 11. The Board also voted to include additional instructional time during the school day to ensure schools meet provincial educational requirements.
“The Board undertook this decision to provide our principals, teachers and staff with much-needed time to prepare for a safe and successful re-entry for Black Gold students,” said BGSD Board Chair Devonna Klaassen. “This change also serves to prioritize the emotional and mental well-being of students and staff as they prepare for classes during an ongoing public health crisis. As a Board, this is how we can show our staff that we stand behind them, and show parents that their children’s safety and well-being is our top priority.”
“The education minister left this decision to the school boards, and I cannot recall a time during the last three years of something needed so desperately by our administration that we as a board have had the authority to positively impact,” said Board Vice Chair Sarah O’Gorman. “Furthermore, based on the feedback received, it is clear that providing more time for our schools to prepare for the return of students will not only help to create a more safe, comfortable and calm reopening. That extra week will in turn help set the tone for September and throughout the school year.”
“More time will mean a safer and more prepared start for staff, which will lead to greater student emotional well-being and academic success.” said Superintendent/Chief Education Officer William Romanchuk. “Many of our staff are changing teaching assignments, and need more time to prepare and reconfigure classrooms to allow for the best physical distancing.”
“Based on Black Gold parent’s choice, approximately 1400 students will attend classes virtually, and around 50 teachers need to plan for teaching distance learning in subjects or grades they may not be familiar with,” said Superintendent Romanchuk. “Our principals need time to redo class lists, timetables, supervision schedules, recall educational assistants, familiarize all staff with the enhanced safety and sanitation protocols, and plan for the unknowns so we are in the best position to provide a safe and meaningful educational experience. Yesterday’s decision also gives teachers and support staff the necessary time to do transition meetings with families that have students with special needs.”
The staggered entry dates for BGSD in-school classes are:
- September 8: Grades 3, 6, 9, 12 students only
- September 9: Grades 2, 5, 8, 11 students only
- September 10: Grades 1, 4, 7, 10 students only
- September 11: All students attend and regular classes begin.
The School Division recognizes that some students may not be able to attend on the designated day below (childcare issues, etc). Parents are asked to contact schools to advise them that their child will not be attending on the staggered entry day, but will begin school on September 11, 2020.
Distance Education classes begin for all grades 1-12 students on September 8, 2020. Parents/guardians of children registered in distance education will receive additional information regarding the program this week. Distance Education Kindergarten parents will be contacted next week regarding their staggered entry dates.
Division staff will now work on adjusting class timetables and busing schedules, and communicating the changes to parents/guardians and other stakeholders in the coming days.