Students in a kindergarten class in Manitoba’s southern Saskatchewan district will soon be taking their first steps back into the classroom after a district health officer recommended they be re-integrated into the community.
The province says the move is necessary to make sure the school has sufficient staff, materials and support to provide effective learning.
In the first six months of the new school year, the Grade 8 kindergarten class will be in the city of Fort Saskatchewan, in a rural community on the border with Manitoba.
It will be the first time since the 1990s that students from the city will be participating in the district’s kindergarten program, which is also known as the city school.
The district says the city schools are the only ones in the province that have enough staff to meet the demands of the kindergarten program.
The kindergarten program in Fort Saskatchewan was started in the early 1990s as part of the federal government’s Education to Kids program.
Fort Saskatchewan’s kindergarten curriculum focuses on reading, writing, math and social skills.
Students in the kindergarten class are required to participate in a literacy and numeracy course, and will work in a classroom with an instructor.
The program is part of a $5-billion education plan approved in 2017 that is helping Fort Saskatchewan reach its target of getting 75 per cent of students enrolled in Grade 8.
The health officer’s recommendations came from a comprehensive evaluation of kindergarten programs across Canada and the United States, which included a review of kindergarten in Fort Saskatoon.
The evaluation found Fort Saskatchewan kindergarten programs were achieving low rates of graduation, and the kindergarten teacher was poorly trained and under-equipped.
Fort Saskatoon kindergarten teachers are paid by the province and will be required to wear a safety belt while on the job.
The school district says they are also required to provide health and safety training for kindergarten teachers.
The recommendations are being tested in the Fort Saskatchewan district and will then go to the provincial health authority, who will make the final decision.
The Fort Saskatchewan School Board says it will have an in-depth discussion with health officials and the district community about the recommendation.