Preschools allowed to reopen in Alberta with new guidelines

Alberta preschools were given the green light to reopen on Monday but many owners and operators say they plan to wait until late August.

Many preschools say they will not reopen with only one month left in the school year

Little Flowers owner Parul Panchal doesn't think she'll reopen her preschool program for the final month of the school year. (Parul Panchal)

Alberta preschools were given the green light to reopen on Monday but many owners and operators say they plan to wait until late August.

Under guidelines released Friday by the Alberta government, each staff member can have a maximum of nine children in a classroom, and can only be assigned to one group.

Multiple programs, such as preschool, out-of-school care or daycare, can be offered in the same building but must have separate entrances.

Parul Panchal owns and runs Little Flowers Daycare and Preschool in southeast Edmonton. She opened the daycare almost two weeks ago but isn't sure if she'll reopen the preschool program this month.

The building has just one entrance, and she would be able to bring back fewer than half of the 60 preschool students who filled her three classrooms before the pandemic.

At the moment, she thinks some kind of small graduation event may be more realistic than trying to reopen the preschool.

"Children do deserve that graduation ceremony, which we can't do on a full scale as we do every year," she said.

Expectations are unfair, director says

Early Start Learning Centre in Fort McMurray told parents on Friday that it will not reopen its preschool program in June.

To have one weekend of notice to make the necessary changes only to have to close again in three weeks did not seem worthwhile, said director Krystal Churcher.

"I feel it's completely unrealistic and totally unfair to those preschools to put those expectations on them," she said.

Churcher thinks it will be difficult for the program to be economically feasible with fewer students. She said she hopes over the summer to come up with a plan to reopen in late August or September.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that daycare centres would be allowed to reopen almost two weeks ago, but many took time to adapt to the new guidelines.

Children at Seeds & Sprouts will have their temperature checked when they're dropped off by their parents. (Seeds & Sprouts)

Seeds & Sprouts childcare's south Edmonton location opened on Monday after staff took a few weeks to get used to the new normal.

"We wanted to make sure we had everything done properly so that we were confident and able to open," said Ashleigh Reinhardt, director of Seeds & Sprouts Early Learning Childcare Centre.

Reinhardt said the cleaning standards are already high for a daycare, but one of the biggest challenges was figuring out which children would be allowed to return in a limited capacity.


Travis McEwan

Video journalist

Travis McEwan is a video journalist who covers stories ranging from human interest and sports to municipal and provincial issues. Originally from Churchill, Man., Travis has spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton reporting for web, radio and television. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca.