On behalf of the Northern Lights Public Schools Board of Trustees, we would like to welcome all of our students, staff, and families Back to School for the 2021-2022 school year. We know many of you have been anxious to learn about what this school year may look like and what COVID-19 protocols may or may not be in place.
Yesterday (Wednesday, August 25, 2021), the Board of Trustees reviewed the 2021-2022 School Year Plan and Guidance for Respiratory Illness Prevention and Management in Schools documents provided to us by Alberta Education and Alberta Health earlier this month. These documents include a variety of actions that we must follow for the 2021-2022 school year. In addition to these requirements, the Board also has the autonomy to implement its own measures above and beyond what the province has mandated.
In our discussions, the Board took into consideration all of the feedback that has been received from stakeholders, including students, staff, parents/guardians and members of our community, as well as the number of active COVID cases in our region, local vaccination rates, and the provincial public health orders currently in place.
With current positivity rates of 25% in the North zone and vaccination rates below 70%, the Board felt it was necessary to implement measures beyond what was included in the provincial plan. Specifically, masks will be mandatory for all students, staff and visitors in non-instructional areas (entrance ways, boot rooms, hallways) of schools until the regional vaccination rate reaches 70%, or until the situation is re-evaluated at the September 29, 2021 Board meeting, coinciding with the current provincial requirement timeline. As per the provincial public health order, students and staff will also be required to wear masks on school buses. Masks will not be mandatory in classrooms or where students are participating in instructional activities in other areas of the school (gymnasium, library, CTS labs, etc.). Students and staff who choose to wear masks in instructional areas will be supported in their decision to do so.
In all other areas, with the exception of masks, NLPS will align with the requirements included in the provincial documents.
This includes the following:
- Staying home when sick - Anyone entering a school will need to screen for symptoms using the Alberta Daily Checklist and follow the requirements for isolation that are in that document. Students and staff who show signs of illness while at school will be sent home.
- HVAC systems will be maintained in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, and NLPS will continue with the practice of regularly circulating fresh air in schools while maintaining a comfortable temperature for students and staff.
- Regular cleaning, including regular cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces.
- Continued promotion of hand hygiene including placing hand sanitizer in locations throughout the school where soap and water are not available, promoting the use of hand hygiene throughout the school day and sharing information about hand hygiene with students, staff and visitors to the school
In addition, to maintain a high level of cleanliness and sanitation, NLPS will not be opening up its schools for use by outside groups. This will also be reviewed at the September 29, 2021 Board meeting. The Board has also requested that administration provide a cost and benefits analysis of installing portable classroom HEPA filters as a potential future measure for the division to consider.
More details about all of the measures our division is taking to address COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses is included in our 2021-2022 Back to School and Learning Pathways Guide. In addition to outlining the measures that will be in place for in-person learning at our schools, this guide also includes information on other learning pathways may choose to pursue with Northern Lights. This includes our new Learning Together Anywhere School (online learning) as well as Home Education.
We would like to thank all of our NLPS students, staff, and families for their continued patience, co-operation and support as we enter this new school year and we look forward to connecting with all of you and working together to provide our children with the best possible learning opportunities so they can grow and thrive.
Northern Lights Public Schools
Northern Lights Public Schools