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Coronavirus: Cowessess First Nation releases back-to-school plan

Cowessess Chief Cadmus Dalorme, said the return to school plan was developed based on information from a parent/caregiver survey carried out in July.
Cowessess Chief Cadmus Dalorme, said the return to school plan was developed based on information from a parent/caregiver survey carried out in July. Courtesy of Reconciliation Education

The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan released its reopening plan for the Cowessess Community Education Centre, which will see 212 students go back to the community school on Sept. 24, 2020, after the long break due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The leadership of the reserve said they are staggering the reopening date by two weeks to allow teachers to prepare the students for the reopening and reduce anxiety.

According to Cowessess, the plan, developed based on information from a parent/caregiver survey carried out in July, will be in phases, with options for in-class learning, learning from home and community mentorship activities.

Read more: Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan steps up coronavirus preventative measures

The goal is to develop children’s minds through education and outdoor activities while following the province’s physical distancing rules.

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“We are going to balance in-class education with hands-on experience; it could be shadowing the chief or working in one of our departments or doing something cultural or even land-based’,” Cowessess First Nations Chief, Cadmus Delorme said.

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Phase one of the plan will include an average of 10 kids at a time per classroom, regular testings and training school bus drivers to do temperature checks with thermal gauges installed on the buses.

Chief Delorme said the survey also showed that most parents would like to see their children wear masks.

“In our plan, Grade 4 to Grade 12 will wear masks,” Delorme said.

“We do leave it open for our parents to sit down with us and explain to us if a student cannot wear a mask, maybe due to asthma or anxiety”.

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He added that disposable masks will be available, and reusable masks provided to all students and staff.

Phase two of the plan will include the mentoring of students by community members.

“When I think back to high school some of my fondest memory is not just sitting in class, but actually taking activities, taking trips,” Delorme said.

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“In this case we are going to line up our children with public works, maybe they’ll go do something land-base, or medicine or just get outside within the 2 meters guidelines.”

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The Cowessess Community Education Center is under the jurisdiction of the Cowessess First Nations, and is not required to follow the Saskatchewan government’s return to school plan.

The community has not had a positive COVID-19 case to date.