CALGARY -- Thousands of Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) students are heading back to class Wednesday as some parents and teachers continue to express concerns over the plans to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. 

Much like the Calgary Board of Education, Catholic students are taking a staged approach to re-entering their normal classes this week as select groups return to school on different days. 

In a letter sent to parents and guardians from Bryan Szumlas, CCSD chief superintendent,  says the school board hopes to ease any confusion as addressing health and safety concerns remains its top priority. 

Five key safety measures have been outlined by Catholic team members including physical distancing, health monitoring, hand washing, sanitizing, and wearing masks. 

All students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 in both the public and Catholic systems will be required to wear a mask in settings outside the classroom where physical distancing cannot be observed. Students are slated to receive two reusable masks on their first day of school, if they haven’t already been distributed to them within their community. 

The CCSD says it’s going above and beyond the requirements for masks put in place by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.

"Our staff will build mask breaks into the days," read the CCSD letter to parents. “Our reminder to staff, visitors and students is 'keep the space or cover your face'." 

The board admits it may be more difficult for children in Kindergarten to Grade 3 students to wear a mask, but they will consider each student’s level of understanding and provide guidance as needed. 

"A common concern is physical distancing, so we enforced the using of masks and how we have the students enter the school and making sure everyone understands the protocols,"

said Sheelagh Olson, principal at St. Gianna School

"Certainly we’ll also be helping the children understand it all because the beginning of the school year is about building those relationships and figuring out why were doing things and how we’re going to do it together."

Home and Online Education 

Reviews continue to be mixed from parents and students as to whether now is the best time to head back to an in-person model of learning. 

With that in mind, home schooling is still an option for parents this year. Parents can register for home schooling through the CCSD's associate board on a year-to-year basis. 

Parents who choose home schooling will be responsible for planning, managing, providing, evaluating and supervising their children’s courses of study. 

Outlines for home schooling will be offered at St. Anne Academic Centre. 

While the original deadline has passed for enrolling in online learning hubs through the CBE and CCSD, the separate board says students can still register for teacher-led, online learning for the 2020-2021 school year at St. Anne for Grades 10 to 12 or the St. Isadore registration page for Grades 1 to 9. 

The deadline for registration at St. Isadore online learning (English and French) closes on Friday, Sept. 4 at 6:00 p.m.