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'Seems like the summer's been too short': Edmonton students report for first day of school

Tuesday was the first day of the school year for thousands of students in Edmonton. 

"The key to being not scared or nervous is being well prepared and we certainly are," noted Kim Boisvert, principal of Velma E. Baker School in southeast Edmonton. 

"We're definitely ready to go because we've been getting ready to go since last year."

She and her staff were outside that morning to greet students and help families with what can be a chaotic return to routine, although that's what many look forward to. 

"They've been out since the start of COVID," mom Sonya Auger said of her elementary and junior high-aged kids, "so they're really excited and I'm really excited to get them back to routine and being normal."

"They want to be near their friends and have fun and get back to learning. Our kids absolutely love school so it's always exciting when it's the first day," added Amanda Johnson, another parent of two school-aged children. 

"Everybody's excited, but it seems like the summer's been too short." 

School divisions this year can opt into the next phase of Alberta's new curriculum rollout: new science and French programming for Kindergarten to Grade 3 and English, math and physical education programming for Kindergarten to Grade 6. 

"[I'm] of course always looking for ways to continue to improve and make tweaks to the curriculum. [It] should be an ongoing process of development," Alberta's education minister, Demetrios Nicolaides, said Tuesday of the material hitting classrooms. 

As for the unfinished social studies and fine arts curricula, Nicolaides said his ministry would be soon announcing a "revised approach to engaging with our partners" on it, as he was directed to by the premier earlier this year. 

Edmonton Police Service and Alberta Motor Association joined school staff for the return to classes on Tuesday, focused on reminding drivers of the laws in school and playground zones. 

During the 2022-23 school year, EPS handed out 3,526 tickets in playground zones, according to AMA. 

"The vast majority of drivers are doing what they're supposed to," Sgt. Kerry Bates told CTV News Edmonton. "There are those that don't care or don't pay attention or think they're above it, so hopefully we'll encounter those people and get them straightened out."

AMA runs a program which teaches Grade 5 and 6 students how to help patrol the streets during pick up and drop off. 

Eleven-year-olds Alex Wispinski and Tasdeek Sohal trained last year so that they could take on the job, outfitted with high-visibility vests and stop signs. 

"We have to help other people get across the road safely," Sohal said. "It can be dangerous sometimes to cross a street if there's a lot of traffic. So we help solve that, as well."

Wispinski added, "We've seen some cars go past without even looking [at] the road. Last year I saw a person on their phone and they just went by when I had the stop sign out."

She said, "It kind of made me feel like they don't care about safety [while] driving and don't care about people who need to cross the street."

There will be increased police presence in playground zones throughout the week. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Miriam Valdes-Carletti, Evan Klippenstein and Nav Sangha Top Stories

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