Edmonton Catholic Schools is full of hope in an uncertain time

Edmonton Catholic Schools is excited to begin its 132nd year of providing an excellent Catholic education, and we are thrilled to welcome students back! This year’s theme is “God Calls us Each by Name.” This speaks to the warm welcome from our Division to our students as they begin a new school year full of hope, even in an uncertain time. 

In August, the provincial government announced that in-school classes will resume with “near normal” daily operations and additional health measures in place. The Edmonton Catholic Schools (ECS) Re-entry Handbook was developed in consultation with and resources from Alberta Education, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, occupational health and safety legislation, and stakeholder survey responses from parents, students, and staff. The handbook offers guidance for administrators and school staff. The Division’s priorities are to ensure the safety of students and staff while mitigating risks and challenges of COVID-19 and providing a high-quality, faith-based education. 

Although our mandate from the Education Minister is to have a full return to in-person learning, ECS is able to provide a measure of choice to families. At-home learning will focus on core subjects including religious education, and may, depending on demand and staffing, have some option classes available. Programs of choice, such as academies or language and immersion programs, might not be available or be offered in a limited capacity. Fall at-home learning will be better than what was offered in the spring. It will be more robust, regimented, and accountable to achievement, according to the full program of studies.

Our commitment to student mental wellness continues to be a priority and many supports are in place, including the Division’s Mental Health Strategic Plan that promotes prevention and early detection. The ECS Re-entry Handbook also addresses staff mental health and includes supports and resources to assist staff. The Division has also created a Staff Wellness Committee. 

Numerous strategies will be used to enhance school and classroom cleanliness and hygiene while helping to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. Additional protocols or revisions to current strategies will be revised as necessary. The health and safety of all staff and students is the priority for the board of trustees and we will continue to advocate for the necessary funds that are critical to the success of all students. 

We will also not lose sight of the future needs of our Division. This past year, our board successfully advocated for a replacement school and playground for Ben Calf Robe/St. Clare Catholic School. Construction on this K-9 school and community centre should begin shortly and be completed by September 2022. A new high school in north Edmonton is the priority on our Capital Plan 2021-2024. 

We all have an important role to play in the success of our students and I look forward to working with families and our community again this year. Find the re-entry handbook at www.ecsd.net/

I encourage open communication and welcome your input on educational matters. Reach me at 587-408-3589 or carla.smiley@ecsd.net. Or, connect with me on Facebook Carla Smiley – ECSD Trustee Ward 73 and Twitter @CarlaSmiley.

Featured Image: Carla Smiley (far left) is the Edmonton Catholic School Division trustee of Ward 73. | ECSD