We had some technical difficulties with the delivery of our parent message last night, so we are resending it today. We have also made some updates due to changes announced last evening by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The province’s Guidance for School Re-Entry Scenario 1 document has also been updated. As a result, NLPS will be updating it’s re-entry plan. We will share that with you once our updates have been completed.
As this message was originally written, our school administrators were working on their school-specific re-entry plan, discussing how their schools will deal with things like recess, drop-off and pick-up times, cohorting students, etc. We know many of you have questions about different aspects of the plans and we are working hard to make decisions and share the information with you as quickly as we can.
In this week’s update we will be sharing some reminders, as well as answer some frequently asked questions we have been getting.
Self-Screening and Self-Isolation
We would like all parents and students to familiarize themselves with the self-screening questionnaire that has been provided by Alberta Health Services. This was updated on Thursday evening and is different than the one we shared with you previously. Anyone who wants to enter one of our buildings will need to complete this questionnaire and if they answer Yes to any of the questions, they should not enter the building and should follow the guidelines for self-isolation on the second page.
Self-Screening for COVID-19 Questionnaire
We have received many questions about students with pre-existing conditions like allergies, where symptoms may be similar to COVID-19. What has been recommended by the Chief Medical Officer of Health is that anyone with pre-existing conditions that have symptoms similar to COVID do two things. One is make the school aware of what the pre-existing condition is and the symptoms so staff are aware. The other is to get tested for COVID to make sure the symptoms aren't from that. Once that is done, they will only need to isolate if they have an onset of symptoms that is different from what they usually have. So for instance, if they always have a runny nose and have tested negative, they can come to school. But if they then develop a fever or headache, they would self-isolate and follow the guidelines for self-isolation and testing.
We have been getting a lot of questions of masks since Alberta Education and the Chief Medical Officer of Health announced on August 4 that masks will be mandatory for all staff, as well as students in grades 4-12.
While masks are not mandatory for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3, we strongly recommend that all K-3 students who are riding the bus to or from school wear masks while on the bus.
Some parents have asked if students can wear buffs, scarves or other face coverings instead of masks. The current direction from Alberta Education and the Chief Medical Officer of Health states that non-medical masks are required for all staff, and students in grades 4-12 in common areas and in classrooms when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Buffs, scarves and other face coverings are not included as alternatives to masks in the direction that has been provided to school divisions. The Government of Alberta will be providing each student and staff member with two masks. Our expectation is that all staff and students will comply with the requirement to wear non-medical masks and either wear the ones provided or ones they have purchased or made themselves.
You can find more information about masks and what is recommended by the Chief Medical Officer of Health at alberta.ca/masks
Learning Together Anywhere
Last week, we shared our 2020-2021 Learning Pathways Guide for parents. This outlines three options for parents to consider for the upcoming school year:
- Learning Together on Location - attending classes in-person at your school with health measures in place to help prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19
- Learning Together Anywhere - a teacher-directed online learning for students in Kindergarten to Grade 9.
- Learning Independently - a Home Education program in partnership with NLPS.
Many of the questions we have received have been about the Learning Together Anywhere program. We will have teachers specifically assigned to the Learning Together program and they will be the ones delivering instruction to students, not the teachers that the students would normally have if they attended school in person. The curriculum and expectations for learning will be the same as students who are learning in classrooms. Instruction will be provided online and having access to the Internet and a device (computer, Chromebook) will be important for students to fully participate in learning.
Students will be able to transition between the Learning Together Anywhere program and the Learning Together on Location at the end of reporting periods (usually November and March). This is to minimize disruption to learning for students. Some parents have asked if students will be able to make a switch outside of those timelines. That may be possible, but will require consultation with the teacher and the principal of the school as there may be other options to address issues and provide supports to students and/or families.
We will be offering parents the option to purchase Chromebooks through NLPS. Details are still being confirmed and will be shared as soon as they are available. Through School Cash Online we will also be able to offer payment options so parents can spread the cost out instead of having to pay everything up front.
Students in grades 10-12 who wish to participate in at-home online learning are advised to contact their local Outreach school to discuss options. Our Outreach Schools will have staff on site starting on Monday, August 24 to answer questions about programming. Please be patient if you are unable to get through right away or if your call is not returned right away. We will try to connect with everyone who is interested in this option as quickly as we can.
- Learning Together Anywhere - We would like everyone who is interested in participating in our Learning Together Anywhere program to complete the Intent to Participate form by August 26th. This will assist us with ensuring we have staffing and resources in place for this program.
- Transportation Registration - If you require student transportation services and have not already registered, please complete the 2020-2021Transportation Registration Form in School Engage. To secure a spot on the bus for the first day of school, your registration must be received and, if fees are applicable, a minimum of one payment must be made, at least one week prior to the first day of school. Parents who have already confirmed their registration should see the fees available for payment in School Cash Online in the next couple of days.
- Out of School Care Registration - Out of School Care is being offered at Cold Lake Elementary School, Duclos School and Vera M. Welsh Elementary School. To register, please complete the 2020-2021 Out of School Care Form in School Engage. Registrations received less than one week prior to the first day of school may not be guaranteed to start Out of School Care in the first week of the school year so please ensure you complete the form as soon as possible.
As always, if you have questions, you are welcome to send them to email@example.com or post them on our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group.
School administrators will be back in their schools on Monday, August 24th. We ask everyone to be patient as we expect many of you will have questions and it may not be possible to respond to all inquiries immediately. Schools will be providing updates to parents on their websites, on Facebook and via email. Please ensure you review the information you are sent.