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LPSD looks ahead to second half of the school year

Lloydminster Public School Division students will be going back to school in the new year and follow the same protocols as they did before they left for the winter break.

K to 9 students will be back in classes everyday while high school students will continue attending classes in-person every other day. Director of Education Todd Robinson says the division is prepared for the possibility of all their students having to switch to online learning.

“We would prefer to have students in our schools on a day-to-day basis. We miss not having them now at the high school everyday as we’re in a every other day context, but I think the school division has done a really good job at preparing and should we be asked to move to that mode of delivery, we will be ready to go and it will be a good enriched experience for our students and well supported by our staff.”

Robinson says after the initial experience last spring, the division collected the thoughts and experiences of students and parents on remote learning and made improvements such as streamlining learning platforms, building accountability and setting expectations for staff and students.

“We’ve had some trial runs this fall as we had groups of students that we’re isolated due to COVID-19 exposures and those went really well. A lot of great work by our curriculum department and technology department and a lot of support from parents. You can’t let that go unsaid.”

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Some of the things he says they’ve done to make the experience easier on parents include ensuring staff are using similar learning platforms to create less confusion for families with children in different grade levels. Robinson adds they’ve also been building an ever growing list of resources on their website to help parents if they are required to move to remote learning.

While the primary focus for the rest of the school year is to make sure students are getting the best possible education, there are other matters on the horizon for the division. He says one of the exciting things set for 2021 is the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School expansion and renovation. Robinson says a project manager is in place and a design team will be engaging parents, students and the community for about nine months.

“We’re targeting having that facility renewed and opened for September 2023. It will allow us to reconfigure the school division and have elementary schools from K to 5 and middle year schools from 6 to 8.”

On the administrative side, the division will be working with the city and Lloydminster Catholic School Division to create a new seamless levy agreement. The original was put in place in 2012 and ensures fair and seamless education services on both sides of the border. Robinson says he feels confident they will reach an agreement that benefits all sides by the end of 2021.

“The agreement hasn’t been renewed since 2012 so I think it’s reasonable that eight years in we would sit back and take a look back at how it works and how its structured. From a school division perspective, we have a lot of confidence in our relationships with the city and our neighbours and we’re confident we’ll come out with a mutually acceptable agreement at the end of this negotiation process and move forward with putting students and schools at the front of the city’s growth initiative.”

The city withdrew from the agreement earlier this month and hopes to include more pieces around public accounting and transparency in the new agreement. Robinson says he’s in agreement about these aspects could be done better.

“We could do a better job of educating and being more transparent with regards to what the levy is used for and building understanding with all of our ratepayers in the city about how those dollars are spent in wise ways to support children in our city.”

While those subjects play an important role in the division, Robinson reiterates they will put student safety and education first until the end of the school year.

“We’re still in the pandemic and we’re going to have some students coming out of the pandemic with some academic challenges. In the short-term, [we’re] going to be making sure we’re attending to all of the learning needs of our students and really lean into the mental health and wellness of our staff and students and everybody’s needs are being taken care of in that regard.”

Robinson says once the school year wraps up, the division will work with the province on a new education plan for the 2021-22 school year and align them with their mission. Students will be headed back to classrooms on January 4.

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