School board update: extracurriculars back, but still concerns

Living Sky School Division continues to move ahead with its safe-return initiatives at schools throughout the region.

The latest news is that extracurriculars have returned. Board members at their meeting Wednesday heard details of the guidelines that have been implemented for the division. Extracurriculars and sports had been on hold until Sept. 28 to allow time for the return to school to roll out. Now that kids are back and schools running, extracurriculars are finally going ahead, but under strict conditions and on a far more scaled back basis than before.

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Details were included in the report from director of education Brenda Vickers to the meeting. Highlights of that are as follows:

All Living Sky schools will have the option within the school only to organize and coordinate extracurricular activities for students from grade 7 to 12. At this time there can be no school to school competition.

This is most relevant to fall sports including football and volleyball, which won’t be able to compete with other schools. Sports organized within the school setting, however, are allowed.

Any participation will adhere to the guidelines set out and the reopening schedule.

Coaches and extracurricular leaders must be familiar with the guidelines outlined in the various documents, and participants should be familiar with and ready to implement school and Living Sky division protocols, particularly related to reporting illness.

No spectators are being allowed. No community coaches or guests are being allowed at this time either. Sanitation and schedules and protocols must be developed and followed.

As well, expectations and guidelines must be shared with all participants.

Regarding transportationm recreational travel is not permitted at this time and joint sponsorships are not allowed.

Regarding participation, students can participate in just one extra curricular activity unless the second activity adheres to physical distancing restrictions or is held virtually.

Mini leagues of up to 50 participants may be formed, and the public health order of no more than 30 people indoors or outdoors must be followed.

Timelines for the introduction of fall sports are as follows: for cross country the season is Sept. 28 to Oct. 17, for soccer it is Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, for football it is Sept. 28 to Nov. 14, and volleyball runs from Oct. 13 to Nov. 28.

While that is the situation within schools in the division, there were some concerns raised at the meeting about the situation when kids are out of school during breaks and the like.

School trustee Ron Kowalchuk raised the issue of kids congregating outside of school without wearing masks or social distancing, or observing other protocols.

“What happens when these kids are on their breaks outside the schools?” said Kowalchuk. He noticed the issue within the school division but also in other divisions such as Saskatoon, where 30 kids would be seen not wearing masks and not social distancing, and “sharing a pop together”, as he put it.

He pointed to the rules being different inside the school as opposed to outside. “To me when I look at it, you go inside the school, there are different rules and whatever — all the sudden you can’t play volleyball and everything. But people outside the door right next to the school — this has happened.”

It was explained by administration officials this was a harder thing for schools to be able to police that sort of thing once students leave the school building. It was also noted by administration when they they share their plans with the public, they point out the things they can control and what they cannot.

One thing the division might do, Vickers suggested, is they may perhaps send out something to parents to ‘help us stay open by being careful’.

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