Students across Alberta – and the rest of the world – have had to navigate the changes COVID-19 brought to the end of the 2019/20 school year. However, the prospect of returning to class as normal in the fall is still being explored.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced on June 10 that the province would be implementing one of three approaches and would make the decision on or before Aug. 1.
The Lethbridge School Division decided to survey its parents/guardians of returning kindergarten to Grade 12 students in order to gauge their opinion of the proposed scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Regular operations (without social-distancing protocols).
- Scenario 2: Blended operation (health protocols in place, including social distancing).
- Scenario 3: At-home learning
The survey, which garnered a total of 6,588 responses, found that 78 per cent were “very likely” to send their children to school under Scenario 1. Twenty-two per cent were “not at all likely” to be on board with the return to regular schooling.
The least popular course of action among LSD parents: at-home-learning. The survey found only 43 per cent of respondents were “very likely” to continue with the online learning model in September under Scenario 3.
In addition to the “likely” and “not at all likely” questions, respondents were asked which option they favoured.
An overwhelming 87 per cent were in favour of the blended operation of learning, which would see classes partially resume with restrictions still in place.
Thirty-three per cent were in favour of students coming to school for half the day from Monday to Thursday, and five per cent felt students should come at staggered times throughout the school day.
Clark Bosch, board chair of Lethbridge School Division, says the mental health of students was also a big concern highlighted through the survey, and he doesn’t believe Scenario 3 is conducive to helping the welfare of the kids or parents within the district.
“School is great,” said Bosch.
“The socialization part of it is also something that’s very important to human beings.”
“So, I’m kind of hoping Scenario 3 is not at all where we’re at come Aug. 1.”
Transportation was also addressed in the survey, which found parents were 18 per cent less likely to send their children on a school bus if no social distancing measures were in place. With social distancing, 73 per cent said they were very likely to do so.
If school buses aren’t able to run successfully in the next school year, 20 per cent of respondents said they did not have an alternate form of transportation for their kids.
Full survey results can be viewed here.