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Southern Alberta school divisions reflect on academic year

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Southern Alberta school divisions reflect on past academic year
School is out for the summer, with Wednesday marking the last day of classes for students in the southern Alberta school divisions. Erik Bay tells us how schools are reflecting on the past school year, one that saw students and staff return to the classroom full-time. – Jun 28, 2023

Some Lethbridge School Division students celebrating their last day of school by walking the stage at graduation on Wednesday.

The ceremonies mark the end of what southern Alberta school divisions consider a successful year.

“It’s really important to have our students back, have them at school every day,” said Allison Purcell, board chair for the Lethbridge School Division.

Students and staff returned to in-person learning — and remained in classrooms — for the entire school year after previous interruptions from COVID-19.

It’s a shift school administrators say benefits more than just learning.

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“Having students back at school has really allowed them to not only focus on their academic component, but their social and emotional relationships, which are of course part of society and important features,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent for Horizon School Division.

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“That ability to be able to regenerate and relive those relationships that established best in-person and in our schools, that has been a highlight,” Holy Spirit Catholic School Division superintendent Ken Sampson said.

Along with that in-person learning came a new curriculum for some students.

Kindergarten to Grade 3 implemented new English and math programming this year. Some divisions are still getting feedback on the change, while others say the process has gone well.

“There was concerns around the amount of curriculum that was being implemented and we really tried to make sure that we gave teachers the time and supports they needed,” Tymensen said. “The feedback we’ve received from them is that they’ve actually really enjoyed the curriculum.”

Now, divisions are heading into the summer preparing for even more change, with the new English and math curriculums extending through Grade 6 and tweaks to French and science for Grades 3 and younger.

There’s also an emphasis on wellness as schools continue to emerge from pandemic measures.

“We’re trying to rebuild relationships with parents and communities and there’s this sense that there’s so much change coming. The additional stress on our staff as well, so that’s certainly a focus moving into next year,” Tymensen said.

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