School bells will be ringing across the Foothills in just one week.
There is a healthy amount of excitement, uncertainty and anxiety amidst students, parents, teachers and administrators as the first days of school approach, but school divisions in the region are taking a proactive and responsive approach.
Both Foothills School Division and CTR Catholic Schools are following the guidance of the Province and deferring to Dr. Deena Hinshaw when it comes to rules, regulations and recommendations for the 2021-22 school year.
That includes maintaining enhanced daytime cleaning routines, teaching proper respiratory etiquette and helping students develop healthy hygiene habits. It also means masks are mandatory on buses but not within school walls.
CTR Catholic will not be asking anyone to mask up, though all students, teachers and visitors are encouraged to have a face covering available should need or desire to wear a mask arise through the day.
At FSD schools, everyone is asked to put on a mask to enter or exit facilities, and in busy common areas.
Both divisions are hearing conflicting opinions from parents and the wider community when it comes to going back to school. There are a host of varying opinions on the best way to educate during a pandemic and whether masks should be mandated for students, but there is no consensus on either side of the fence.
The school divisions are making the right call by following Hinshaw's lead when it comes to public health and safety recommendations. They are educators, not health specialists.
Their job is to take the regulations decreed by the Province and implement them in a way that promotes the health of their students and staff.
It's about allowing young learners to feel safe while they go back to school and get one step closer to normal.