A few hundred students in the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) are taking in-person summer classes at two high schools in Calgary.

It’s the first time students have actually been allowed in the buildings since Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced the temporary closure of schools in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are 200 students enrolled at St. Francis High School and 150 are learning at Bishop O’Byrne Senior High School.

Grade 12 student Rachel Rudd is taking Math 30-2 at St. Francis and says she’s happy about the return to some normalcy.

“I learn better in person then reading on the screen,” said Rudd.

“So it was pretty important for me to be in school.”

CCSD got the green light about a month ago from Alberta Health Services and the Ministry of Education to proceed with in-person summer school classes.

“We were hopeful that we would be able to give that opportunity but we of course would take our direction from the ministries and we were prepared to offer it online if that was the decision made,” said Andrea Holowka, superintendent of instructional services with the CCSD.

Because of the short time-frame to get the schools ready for students, only those taking Grade 12 courses were permitted to be in the schools. All other students within the district are taking summer courses online.

The CCSD has its own Pandemic Committee and has been working with AHS and Alberta Education to come up with a health and safety protocols. The classes are smaller in size and the desks are two metres apart.

“We have to be distant from the other students, we have to wear masks in the hallways, sanitize when you go in and sanitize when you go out of the school,” said Grade 11 student Aiden Turner.

St. Anne’s High School principal Steve Petingola, who is also in charge of summer classes, says in addition to those safety measures, students and staff have to complete a daily health survey before they are allowed in the building, no common breaks are permitted, students need to bring their own water bottles and teachers are required to completed an online communicable disease course.

“Student safety is our number one priority always and so we never want to risk any student for the sake of them being able to have this experience,” he said.

All school district in Alberta will learn on August first what the plan is for the upcoming school year.