Calgary

Alberta gives school boards green light to use lockers again

Changes to some back-to-school guidelines means Alberta schools boards can now allow the use of lockers again.

Calgary Board of Education says it's not yet allowing the use of lockers

The Calgary Catholic School District says individual schools will decide if students can resume using lockers. (Rachael Blakey)

The Province of Alberta has changed some back-to-school guidelines, permitting schools boards to allow the use of lockers again, and some students wonder why they're still carrying around heavy backpacks while lockers remain unused.

A document released by the Alberta government says lockers can be used but measures should be in place to minimize crowding. 

Lockers must be spaced out when possible, assigned based on cohort, grade and class, and students should bring only what they need for the day and keep school supplies and textbooks in their backpack to minimize locker visits. 

Isabella MacDonald, a Grade 12 student at Springbank Community High School, said her school hasn't explained to students why they're still not being allowed to use their lockers. 

"Nobody's communicating to us why we can't have our lockers. So I just assume that it's just because they're so close together," she said.

"I'd like to actually know why we're not allowed to use our lockers because we're already walking through the hallways, shoulder to shoulder, and it's quite difficult to get around everyone already. So using lockers, I don't think it would make much of a difference."

MacDonald said that with the change in weather, the heavy loads students are carrying around with them have only increased.

"I see people walking around with their jackets in one hand and their boots another, and then you're walking around with these giant backpacks, and with gloves and tuques and stuff, it's like you almost need to carry another bag for the amount of stuff we're walking around with."

The Springbank school is in the Rocky View School Division.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Rocky View Schools said it has not changed its direction regarding lockers since the outset of school. 

"Lockers remain closed for use," it said. " We continue to review our plan as we receive new information and as the school year progresses. Our number one priority and the foundation of all of our decisions is the safety of our students and staff."

Sandra Borowski, senior communication specialist with the Calgary Catholic School District, said its schools have been given the discretion to decide on locker use.

"In the past, AHS had recommended to shut down the use of lockers, so we followed AHS direction on that. Since then, AHS has provided new guidelines," she said.

"It's really on a school-by-school basis, depending on who is able to follow the COVID precautions, who has the time or resources to open the lockers up, or if they simply don't feel the need for them to be reopened."

With colder weather already on Caglary's doorstep, Borowski said the school district has been hearing concerns from parents about the weight of students' backpacks, and the sheer amount of stuff they must carry with them.

"Obviously, now with winter rolling up — it's actually here already — kids are carrying quite a bit more," she said.

"I would say that it's most likely that a lot of our schools will try and open up the lockers if they can, just to ease that load that students are carrying into the school and into their classrooms."

But other school boards, like the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), aren't ready to make that change right away.

The CBE said at this time lockers remain out of use in its schools. 

"The guidelines that AHS released recently do allow for locker use, and we are currently reviewing this change within the context of our own school system, with student and staff safety as the primary consideration," the CBE said in an emailed statement. 

The CBE said any decision to make a change to its current practice must consider each school's individual context and ability to maintain safety measures.

"This includes the differences in layout of each individual CBE school building, school enrolment numbers, the number and size of lockers, student traffic flow patterns, etc."

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary, currently focused on bringing you stories related to education in Alberta. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

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