Read our COVID-19 Division Re-entry Strategy for information about how we’re welcoming students and staff back into schools this September.

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School Re-entry

Our Division is preparing to welcome students and staff back into classrooms this September, after the Government of Alberta announced that in-school classes will resume. We will continue to take direction from Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and the Government of Alberta. We will be following the guidance outlined in the government’s 2020-2021 School Re-Entry Plan for our return to classes.

The safety and well-being of students, families and staff is our greatest priority. We’re taking new precautions to protect everyone’s health. Staff in our schools will be ready to support students and families through the transition.

SUPERINTENDENT MESSAGE

Read Superintendent Darrel Robertson's letter to families about our COVID-19 Division Re-entry Strategy.

DIVISION RE-ENTRY STRATEGY 

Read our COVID-19 Division Re-entry Strategy to learn about steps we’re taking to keep students and staff as safe as possible in our schools. This strategy outlines important guidelines around screening for illness, handwashing, physical distancing where possible, extra cleaning and disinfecting measures, cohorts, masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Every school in our Division will follow this strategy and build on it with their own school-specific information, to give families a clear picture of what things will look like in their own school community this year. The school-specific information will be released to families in mid-August on school websites.

FAMILY CHOICE

As we prepare for the 2020-21 school year, we recognize that in-person classes might not be the right choice for all families and staff, depending on their personal circumstances and well-being. That is why we are offering choice. Our goal is to ensure all students receive a high-quality education, which is why we will offer Distance and Online learning throughout the 2020-21 school year. 

A quarterly system for 2020-21 

Families will be able to decide, at four key times throughout the school year, whether their child will attend school in person or learn at home through online instruction. To offer this choice, we are organizing the school year into four instructional quarters (two-month periods of learning). 

  • Quarter 1: September 3November 10 
  • Quarter 2: November 16January 29 
  • Quarter 3: February 1April 20 
  • Quarter 4: April 21June 29

How it works 

Schools will contact families in mid-August to confirm whether their child(ren) will return to in-person instruction at school or if they will choose online learning at home. Schools will organize resources and staff to support the choices that families make in individual school communities. 

Three weeks before the start of each quarter, families will be asked to indicate their choice for the following quarter. No matter what choice they make, the student will remain enrolled and connected to the school where they registered or pre-enrolled for the 2020-21 school year.

SAFETY MEASURES

Schools and classes will look different than they did before, as we all follow new health measures. Our Division is implementing the Government of Alberta’s safety plans to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These include:

  • routine health screening for all staff and students
  • a stay-at-home policy for anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
  • mandatory masks for students from Grades 4–12 and all staff in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained, as outlined in provincial guidelines
  • cleaning standards, which include:
    • disinfecting in schools, classrooms and washrooms
    • limiting shared supplies and equipment
  • physical distancing, including:
    • reorganizing rooms to allow more physical space, when possible
    • directing foot traffic
    • limiting large gatherings
  • cohort classes
  • hygiene routines, including:
    • hand hygiene, such as handwashing and sanitizing
    • respiratory etiquette, such as covering sneezes and coughs with a tissue or sleeve and then washing hands

The safest return to school possible during a pandemic is our shared responsibility. Families, students and staff all need to do their part to protect each other’s well-being in our schools and communities.

ROUTINE HEALTH SCREENING

Everyone is expected to follow the Government of Alberta’s health-screening requirements. Parents and guardians must use the Government of Alberta self-screening questionnaire (available in multiple languages) every day, to decide if their child should attend school. Families are not required to submit the form to their school. It is a tool to assess their child’s wellness before sending them to school.

Staff, school visitors who have appointments and other people permitted inside the school must also screen themselves using the questionnaire before entering the building.

STAY-AT-HOME POLICY 

If you or your child answers “yes” to any questions on the Government of Alberta self-screening questionnaire (available in multiple languages), do not go to school or work. Stay home and seek health-care advice from Health Link 811 or your primary health care provider. Students and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, runny nose or sore throat, must stay home. Anyone with symptoms should use the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19. These actions will not only help keep you and your family safe, but will also help keep other students, staff and families healthy. 

MASKS ARE REQUIRED

Masks are emerging as an important way to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, particularly when people are indoors and physical distancing is a challenge.

All staff and students in Grades 4–12 will be required to wear a mask when physical distancing at school and in the classroom is not possible. This is one way to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus, and follows the Government of Alberta guidelines. We are asking K–3 students who are physically, psychologically or developmentally able to wear a mask, to do so.

Some important things to know about the use of masks are: 

  • individuals who are physically, psychologically or developmentally unable to wear a mask, or any protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act, will be excused from this health protocol.
  • families will work with the school principal to discuss this relative to their child 
  • masks are required for staff who are wearing face shields 
  • please follow the provincial health guidelines for how to choose and wear a mask
  • masks will be an important item on school supply lists for families.
    • every student in the Division will be provided with two reusable masks
  • if someone forgets their mask, schools will ensure there are supplies available for students and staff

IF COVID-19 IS CONFIRMED IN A SCHOOL

If health officials confirm a case of COVID-19 in a school community, we will follow the process outlined by the province. The zone medical officer of health will work with our Division to share information with families, students and staff. They will: 

  • identify cases through easily accessible testing
  • identify close contacts
  • create isolation measures when needed
  • provide follow-up recommendations

A COVID-19 case will not automatically lead to school closure. It could be that only the group of students and staff who came in close contact will be required to stay home for 14 days.

Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school. If a student is sick and required to self-isolate, their school will support them to learn at home. Our Division is committed to working with provincial health partners to keep families informed. 

STAY UP TO DATE

We will share detailed information about our school re-entry plans in the coming weeks. Stay up to date by checking our website, SchoolZone, Facebook and Twitter for the latest information. SchoolMessenger may also be used to keep families informed of important school updates as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

LETTERS TO FAMILIES