Thousands of Lethbridge students are heading back to in-person classes this week, equipped with pencils, paper and hand sanitizer.
On Tuesday, the Lethbridge School Division officially kicked off the school year, with some students returning to class while others will start on Wednesday.
The Holy Spirit Catholic School Division will be welcoming back all students K-12 on Wednesday.
“All of the schools in the division are doing some sort of staggered entry,” explained Erin Hurkett, principal of Dr. Robert Plaxton Elementary School.
“It seems to work really, really well to get to know the kids and teach them the protocols that we’re having for (COVID-19) and that type of thing as well.”
Dr. Robert Plaxton Elementary School, a brand new solar-powered K-5 school in south Lethbridge, has more than 300 students.
As parents dropped kids off, excitement was in the air.
“I’m glad that I came to this new school, and I’m glad people made this school for kids to learn,” said student Sebastian Duarte.
“I’m kind of sad that summer’s gone and done, but overall I’m happy,” student Gracie Mangal added.
Vice-principal Andy Tyslau is confident students will be able to follow the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the division, which includes masking in common areas.
“(Students) did a wonderful job in our division last year of maintaining that and understand what the protocols look like and how to manage the protocols,” Tyslau said. “I’m very confident they’re going to continue and be able to do what they need to do.
“It feels great to be in a new building, but even better with the kids here.”
Lindsey Smith, who has three elementary-aged children, feels that already having a year of schooling through COVID-19 under their belt will be an asset.
“I feel really comfortable. They did this last year. They wore masks last year,” Smith said.
“The kids are very resilient. They didn’t complain at all. They did a great job. Nobody got sick last year in my children’s classes, so I’m confident that these measures will keep them really safe.”
School, playground zones
With a return to schools also comes the return of school zone enforcement. Zones are now in effect across Lethbridge from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on school days.
Playground zones are in effect from 8:30 a.m. until one hour after sunset.
Lethbridge police are reminding drivers to slow down to 30 km/h during those times and obey the rules of the road.
“Common offences that we see in areas like this (include) speeding, U-turns, failing to yield for pedestrians in crosswalks, parking on top of crosswalks, parking in the alleys,” said Sgt. Steve Vale with the Lethbridge Police Service. “We just encourage everyone to be mindful of these laws.
“Ultimately, the goal is for the safety of the youth that are out there.”