These are the updates that were provided to parents during the 2019-2020 school year concerning COVID-19.
These are the updates that were provided to parents during the 2019-2020 school year concerning COVID-19.
Today was officially the last day of school for students. This time of year is always bittersweet for us and that is especially true this year. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support, particularly over the last couple of months. We know it has been challenging and we appreciate the way everyone - students, parents, staff, and our community partners - have worked together to meet the needs of our students.
We would also like to thank all of the parents who took the time to complete our School Re-Entry Survey for Parents and encouraged their children to complete the School Re-Entry Survey for Students. To date, we have received input from 360 students, 920 parents and 385 staff members. If you have not already done so, the survey will be open until the end of the day tomorrow (Friday, June 26). The information collected will be invaluable as we plan for the upcoming year.
Normally our communication with parents is minimal over the summer, but this year may be a little bit different. We expect to find out on August 1st which scenario we will be operating under when school starts in September. As soon as we are able, we will share with parents what that means for the new school year. We know you will have many questions and we are committed to sharing as much as we can with you in a timely fashion. This may mean a few more emails prior to the school year than you would normally receive.
We have a few other updates that we would like to share at this time:
Student Learning Activities
We have received many questions about whether or not the folders with the student learning activities will continue to be accessible over the summer. We know many of you want to be able to access the resources that are in those folders to help prepare your children for next year. The folders will remain in place until the end of August. You can access all of the folders using this link: https://www.nlpsab.ca/student-learning-activties
Our school playgrounds re-opened this week and are available for families to access. Please be aware that the equipment is not sanitized. Playground users must comply with gathering restrictions and maintain physical distancing of 2 metres between individuals not from the same household. Additional information about precautions to take in relation to playgrounds is included in the government’s Guidance for Playgrounds document.
We are currently finalizing the process for registering for student transportation for the 2020-2021 school year. We hope to be able to share more information with you in the next couple of weeks.
Yesterday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange shared the province’s 2020-21 School Re-Entry Plan. On August 1, we will find out which of the three scenarios we will be operating under when school starts on September 1. This is a decision that will be made by the provincial government based on the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. NLPS does not get to choose which scenario we want to follow. We will need to be prepared for all three and we will also need to have the flexibility to transition between them during the school year if the pandemic situation changes.
Over the next few weeks we will be examining the requirements of each scenario, how they will be implemented in our schools, and what impact that may have on students, parents and staff. We will also be sending out a survey seeking your input on some of options we may need to consider to implement some of the recommendations.
For those of you who may want more detail on the scenarios that have been proposed and the related health measures that will need to be taken, here are the links to the documents provided by the provincial government:
We have a few other updates we would also like to share this evening:
2020-2021 Class Sizes
This is the time of year when we take a look at the enrollment projections at each school for the coming year, determine what staffing we need at each site, and start hiring to fill any vacancies. For the last few years, we have been purposeful at working towards meeting the class size recommendations of the Alberta Commission on Learning (ACOL). While we no longer receive funding specifically tied to meeting those goals, we believe it is important to align with those class size recommendations and reduce class sizes wherever and whenever it is physically and financially possible.
As a result, we are pleased to share that in 2020-2021 our class size averages across all grade levels will meet or be lower than the ACOL recommendations. In previous years, we have met the recommendations at the 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12 levels, but our K-3 averages were around 19 students per teacher (the provincial average was around 20 students per teacher). This year, our K-3 class size average will be 17 students per teacher.
As per the ACOL recommendations, class sizes will be smaller at elementary schools than high schools. Class sizes may also vary within a grade from school to school or even classroom to classroom, depending on the needs of students within an individual class. For instance, at one school there could be a Grade 2 class with 15 students and a second Grade 2 class with 20. However, the class with 15 students may have students that require more supports for learning.
In addition, please note that the class size numbers only include the number of teachers per student, not the number of staff that may be in a classroom with students. Based on the needs of the students in the class, there may also be educational assistants in the classroom working with individual students or groups of students.
Based on our current enrollment projections, here is what we are predicting for class sizes next year:
ACOL Recommendation (average for a school division)
Please note, we have not included our high school numbers in the chart as they are more difficult to predict prior to enrolments and course selections being finalized with students. Our preliminary estimates show that our divisional average class size will be much lower than the ACOL recommendation of 27 students per teacher.
Student Supports for 2020-2021
One of the division’s priorities in its 2020-2021 budget was to maintain the services we have in place to support students, specifically in the areas of inclusive education and mental health.
Next year’s budget continues our commitment to retaining in-house occupational therapy and speech language supports for students. This provides access to a multi-disciplinary service team to help support inclusive practice within our classrooms and schools.
In alignment with our division's priority to improve student mental health and wellness, we will also continue to provide student advocacy counsellors at every school to provide support to students. This support will be crucial as students return to school in September and we deal with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through a grant from Alberta Health Services that funds our Successful Families, Successful Kids program, we are fortunate to have wellness coaches in all of our communities to provide programming for students and parents, as well as resources for staff. That will continue next year as well, and they, too, will play a critical role in supporting students and parents when our schools re-open.
We will be offering Summer School classes at Cold Lake Outreach, the Bonnyville Centennial Centre and Lac La Biche Outreach from July 6 to 31. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, classes will be a blend of online/virtual learning and in-person classes.
Students can apply for Summer School starting tomorrow (Friday, June 12) by logging into their PowerSchool Student Portal account in a web browser (applications cannot be submitted through the PowerSchool app).
We have been receiving a lot of questions about registration for next year.
As always, if you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to get you an answer as quickly as we can. You can also submit a question in our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers group on Facebook.
We have a few updates for everyone this evening:
In-Town Busing Fees
We have received several questions about the re-instatement of in-town busing fees and how they will be applied. We would like to clarify a few things that will hopefully address some of those questions and clear up some misunderstandings:
We are still working on the registration and fee collection process for the 2020-2021 school year. We will share more information and instructions with parents once details are confirmed.
Orange Shirt Day T-Shirt Design Contest
On Monday, September 30, each of our schools and offices will recognise Orange Shirt Day.
This year we would like our shirts to feature artwork created by our students.To submit an entry, please email your original artwork to email@example.com by June 19, 2020.
To read our full contest guidelines and learn more about Orange Shirt Day, please check out our website: Orange Shirt Day T-Shirt Design Contest.
Learning and Growing Through COVID-19
Northern Lights is pleased to announce the Learning and Growing through COVID-19 initiative in partnership with Cenovus! Cenovus has graciously donated thousands of Spruce, Larch and Pine seedlings to distribute to our families and plant in our school greenspaces.
The seedlings will arrive at our schools the week of June 8-12 and each school will share information with families about how they can pick up their seedlings.
We would love to see photos of everyone planting their seedlings. Please take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #NLPSlearningandgrowing. And don’t forget to tag @cenovusenergy on Instagram or @cenovus on Twitter and thank them for their generosity!
To learn more, including tips for planting and caring for your seedlings, check out our website: Learning and Growing Through COVID-19.
STEAM Challenge T-Shirt Design Contest Winner
Northern Lights Public Schools would like to congratulate Duric Juhlin from Aurora Middle School on creating the winning entry in this year’s STEAM Challenge T-Shirt Design Contest!
His winning design has been posted on our website: STEAM Challenge T-Shirt Design Winner.
You can learn more about our annual STEAM Challenge and see highlights from our 2019 event on our STEAM Challenge page.
If you have questions about the items above, or any other topic, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them in our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers group on Facebook and we will do our best to get you an answer.
Student Learning Activities Update
The final sharing of student learning activities for students in kindergarten to Grade 9 will take place on Tuesday, June 16 and learning opportunities, support and contact for all K to 12 students will continue until Monday, June 22. On Tuesday, June 23, teachers will provide either celebratory activities or summer learning activities in the learning folders. Please note, teachers can be contacted for support from June 23 to 25 if needed. As per the school calendar, the final day for students in the 2019-2020 school year is June 25.
Report cards will be distributed on June 25-26. Most schools will be mailing report cards to the address that they have on file for parents. If you have moved during the school year and need to update your address, please contact your child’s school.
Some schools may provide families with alternate delivery options. Those schools will share details when they have been finalized.
Return of Items to Schools
Arrangements are being made for parents and students to return any school-owned items they may have between June 24 and 26th. This includes Chromebooks and other technology borrowed from schools, musical instruments, library books, and other resources. Each school may have a slightly different process and timelines for returns and will be sharing those details with parents over the next couple of weeks.
Out of School Care Registration
Parents will be able to register for Out of School Care starting June 1st.
For 2020-2021, Out of School Care will be available at Vera M. Welsh Elementary School in Lac La Biche, Duclos School in Bonnyville and Cold Lake Elementary School in Cold Lake.
Parents who register and pay their deposit before June 22 will receive care on one Non-School Day for free.
To register, log in to your PowerSchool Parent Portal account, click on School Engage on the left hand menu, and then choose the 2020-2021 Out of School Care registration form. Full instructions have been posted on our website: Out of School Care Registration
Over the last few months, we have all experienced a lot of change, and for many of us that has also meant an increase in stress and anxiety for ourselves and our children. While everyone at Northern Lights Public Schools has been working hard to continue to offer learning opportunities for students, our primary focus has been, and continues to be, the mental well-being of our students.
As we approach the end of the school year, we know some students will begin to get anxious about the transitions they will be making at the start of the next school year - moving on to a new grade, meeting their new teacher, changing schools - and their concerns may be amplified by anxiety about what school may look like when classes resume. If you think your child would benefit from some help in dealing with these transitions, please discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher, your school’s Student Advocacy Counsellor, or school administration. We continue to have supports in place at all of our schools that are accessible for students and parents, and we encourage you to reach out if you need assistance.
Northern Lights Public Schools continues to work with Alberta Education and education partners across the province to develop guidelines for the three scenarios identified by the Education Minister: classes resuming as normal; classes resuming with some restrictions in place; and the continuation of teacher-directed learning at home. Once those guidelines have been developed, we will share what we can so that you have the information you need to prepare yourselves and your children for the 2020-2021 school year.
This evening, we would also like to share a few updates about things happening in the division:
As part of its commitment to building leadership capacity and ensuring a strong succession plan is in place for the division, Northern Lights Public Schools is making some changes to the administration teams at several schools for the 2020-2021 school year. If there are changes at your school, you should already have received a message with details.
For the full announcements, please check out these links on our website:
Friends of Education
The Northern Lights Public Schools Board of Trustees is now accepting nominations for its 2020 Friends of Education Awards. All parents, students and staff are encouraged to nominate some they feel makes an outstanding contribution to education in NLPS.
The Friends of Education Awards recognize organizations or individuals who have made special contributions to education in Northern Lights Public Schools, either at more than one school or for a significant time frame. This is the 10th year the awards will be presented.
Last year’s award winners were Steve Charlton, Dr. Mohammad Al-Bekai from Generations Eye Care, and Kristen Shewchuk from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lac La Biche. See our profiles of previous Friends of Education Award Recipients for more information.
The Board will be accepting nominations for the 2020 Friends of Education Awards until Friday, June 5. You can submit a nomination by filling out this Google form: 2020 Friends of Education Nomination Form.
Food for Thought Program
Northern Lights Public Schools would like to extend a big thank you to NES SureFlow for their generous donation of 150 reusable shopping bags and $1,650 towards our Food for Thought program this week.
For the last several weeks we have been providing a weekly meal and food hamper to over 300 families throughout the school division. We would also like to thank Lakeland College, Johnson Insurance, and Portage College for donating bags for the program over the last few weeks.
We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new tote bag sponsor for the duration of this year’s program - ThinkWerx in Bonnyville. Thank you for supporting our students!
If your business or organization would like to make a financial contribution to our Food for Thought program please contact Mark Centazzo at our Bonnyville office - 780-826-3145.
Thank you so much for your support during Mental Health Week. It was wonderful to see so many Positive Signs and chalked sidewalks around our communities and to see so many photos and videos of families participating in Hats On for Mental Health and the other mental health activities last week.
While it is no longer Mental Health Week, focusing on student mental health remains a priority for the division and we have a number of supports that students can access through our schools. We encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher, student advocacy counsellor, or school administration for more information on what support you may need for your child and how we can assist you. Information is also available on the Mental Health section of our website.
We also have a few updates for everyone today based on announcements that were made last week:
Alternate route seats will be available at a cost of $190 per student per year for students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 and $250 per student per year for students in grades 7-12.
The division is currently determining how fees will be collected, what payment options will be available for parents, and what processes will be put in place for parents who cannot afford the fees. Registration for Student Transportation for the 2020-2021 school year will not be available until these details have been finalized. Instructions will be provided to parents once everything has been confirmed.
As always, if you have questions, please feel free to send them to email@example.com or submit your question on our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group.
We have a couple of updates for you this evening.
Elementary/Middle School Report Cards and Assessment
Many of you have asked us how we will be assessing our elementary and middle school students, what their final report card will look like, and what supports they will receive when they move on to the next grade in September.
As was stated when classes were cancelled indefinitely in March, each student will receive a final report card at the end of June. This may look a little different than what they have received in the past, but it will include information about how they have progressed as learners.
An important part of what will help our teachers determine how students are doing and what supports they will need when classes resume are the ongoing conversations they are having with students and parents/guardians throughout this experience. We understand that students may not be able to complete every learning activity, however, teachers will continue to check in with their students. These check ins allow teachers to determine how students are doing and to find out what areas students may need help with. Teachers will continue to encourage additional learning activities that students may be doing - reading, writing, art, cooking, etc. and they can suggest alternate activities or additional activities for students to further their learning.
As directed by Alberta Education, all students who were on track to progress to the next grade will. We understand that students may require additional academic support as they proceed to the next grade and are prepared to support our students, when they return to class.
It is difficult to address every scenario or concern in a message being sent to all parents. We encourage you to contact your child’s teacher or school administration with any questions or concerns you have. They will work with you to develop a plan that addresses the needs of your child and family.
We are currently discussing what Summer School may look like this year and working to ensure our plans follow the advice from our Chief Medical Officer of Health. Our intent at this point is to continue to investigate the opportunities for Summer School programming. We hope to have more information to share by the middle of May so that students and parents understand how they may be able to participate in learning throughout the summer.
We have a few updates for everyone this week.
One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since the end of Spring Break is what is happening with preschool and kindergarten registration and all of the open houses that were planned to take place this month.
We are currently accepting online registrations for Preschool and Kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year. If your child is already enrolled in preschool, you can register by logging into the Parent Portal, choosing School Engage and completing the 2020-2021 Preschool and Kindergarten Re-Enrolment Form.
If you know someone who is new to NLPS and wants to register their child in preschool or kindergarten, or grades 1-12, please let them know they can also register online using the links on our Registration page.
While we have cancelled all of our early learning open houses, our elementary schools are looking at other ways to showcase their early learning programs using social media. Look for some videos and other opportunities to connect with our schools on their Facebook pages, or give them a call to ask any questions you have or find out what they have planned!
Updated Administrative Procedure
To reflect changes made in the Education Act, we have updated Administrative Procedure 210 - Early Childhood Services. The main change to the AP is the age of entry for students for our Kindergarten programs. The age of entry is now consistent across the province. Effective September 2020, children must be five (5) on or before December 31 of that school year in order to be eligible to attend an NLPS school.
Change to Student Awards
As part of a review of its budget, the Board of Trustees has decided to suspend student awards for high school students who achieve blended marks of 80% in a Provincial Diploma Exam course or Math 31. This suspension will take effect for the 2019-2020 school year and continue for a total of three years, after which it will be reviewed by the Board. This was part of a series of changes made to the Board’s budget to address changes made to the funding the division receives.
Positive Signs Initiative
Thank you to everyone who requested one of our Positive Signs lawn signs. We are going to deliver the signs to everyone who requested one this week and we are looking forward to seeing Positive Signs all over our communities next week during Mental Health Week (May 4-10). Please show your support by creating your own signs and don’t forget to post a picture on social media and use the hashtag #NLPSpositivesigns
Food for Thought
Our second delivery of food for families in need will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, April 28). We would like to thank Johnson Insurance and Portage College for supplying us with bags for this week’s items.
Our Food for Thought program provides a prepared meal or the ingredients for a meal, plus other non-perishable food items to families in need every Tuesday from now until the end of the school year. If your family would like to be added to our Food for Thought program, please contact your child’s school.
We have a few updates to share with everyone today.
Inclusive Education and Mental Health Resources - Our Inclusive Education and Mental Health teams are working hard to develop resources for students and parents, which we will be sharing over the next few weeks. We are pleased to share two of these resources today:
We are also planning to offer some online sessions for parents covering a variety of Mental Health topics. We would like your feedback on what you would like to learn more about and what times might work best for you and your family. We would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to provide us with some input in our Mental Health Session Survey.
You will be able to find more helpful resources and information on our website in the next few weeks. We have also added a few more resources and links to the Mental Health section of our website, including resources related to COVID-19 and where to get help if you need it. Our school staff are also available to provide assistance and we encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher or school to access the resources that are available for your child and family.
Positive Signs Initiative - Our NLPS Positive Signs lawn signs arrived at our Bonnyville office today. You have until noon tomorrow (April 23) to submit your name to host one of our signs for Mental Health Week (May 4-10). Fill out this Google Form if you would like to win a sign!
If you receive a sign or create your own to display positive messages of hope and encouragement, remember to take a picture and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #NLPSPositiveSigns.
Playgrounds Closed - To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, all Northern Lights Public Schools playgrounds are closed to the public. Please refrain from using any of the playground equipment at our schools and help prevent the spread.
Food for Thought Nutrition Program - As we announced last week, Northern Lights will be using the funding it receives from the provincial government to distribute food to families in need. The first of our weekly deliveries took place yesterday (Tuesday, April 21) to around 350 students.
Given the current economic circumstances we realize many families may need assistance that we haven’t yet been in contact with. If your family would benefit from receiving our Food for Thought program, please contact your child’s school.
Graduation Ceremonies - Northern Lights has made the difficult decision to postpone graduation ceremonies until the fall. At that time we will reassess the situation and determine what we will be able to do to celebrate our students’ achievements. This may look different than what was originally planned depending on what restrictions are in place at the time.
Our high schools are also looking at alternate ways to recognize this important milestone for our students before the end of the school year and will be contacting parents and students with more details on what that may look like.
Thank you for your continued support.
While the government has announced the cancellation of classes for an indefinite period of time, students are still expected to participate in learning from home for the rest of the school year (until the end of June 2020). This includes students in grade 10 to 12. Our high school teachers have been developing plans for each student to address their learning goals and it is important that students connect with their teachers regularly and participate in the learning opportunities provided to them. This may look slightly different for each student depending on what courses they are enrolled in.
Teachers will be assessing student progress in the classes they are enrolled in and assigning a final mark and credits based on that progress. Students will have the opportunity to improve their marks in the courses they are enrolled in. This is especially important for students who may not have been achieving the marks they wanted prior to classes being cancelled. The amount of work a student is required to do for each course may vary depending on what the course is, how well they were doing before classes were cancelled, and whether or not that class is a prerequisite for future courses.
All students who were on track to progress to the next grade will. In providing at-home learning, our goal is to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for the courses they will be taking next year. In some subjects, there is a lot of content that needs to be covered to ensure that students are prepared and will be successful at the next level.
This is the time of year when high schools normally have discussions with parents and students about what courses students should be taking next year. Student participation and engagement between now and the end of June may impact recommendations for next year’s course selection. In addition, students who choose not to participate in at-home student learning for the courses they are enrolled in may struggle with the courses that they are enrolled in next year.
We recognize that the last few weeks have been difficult for everyone and that student participation in at-home learning may be impacted by a variety of factors. Our staff are here to work with you to support your child and their learning. We encourage all parents to connect with their child’s school and teachers to discuss what the expectations are for their child and how those expectations can be met. There are many supports that we can put in place for students who need them and many options we can explore to address the challenges students and families may be experiencing with at-home learning.
Welcome to the final 11 weeks of the 2019-2020 school year. We hope everyone had an opportunity to enjoy some time with their families over the Easter break and connect with those you love even though you may be physically separated from them right now.
Weekly learning activities resume this week and many of you have probably already accessed the activities for your students this week. You can find all of the folders in the Student Learning Activities section of our website. If you have not already arranged for regular check-ins with your child’s teacher, we encourage you to do so. All of our staff are here to help families meet the needs of our students while classes are cancelled.
We know the cancellation of classes has been difficult for many students, and many parents as well. Last year, Northern Lights committed to making student mental health a priority in our three-year education plan. Our commitment to meeting the mental health needs of our students has not wavered in the current circumstances. Our mental health team, including our student advocacy counsellors, are available to connect with families, provide resources, and connect with other community agencies to provide students with assistance.
In addition, NLPS has compiled a number of resources and links related to COVID-19 and Mental Health on our new COVID-19 Resources section on our website. One of these resources was developed by the Government of Alberta specifically for students: COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Children and Students. The fact sheet also recommends CBC Kids News as a resource for students to learn more: CBC Kids News.
On our website, you will also find links and resources to assist you in talking to your child about COVID-19, Mental Health strategies for COVID-19, and links to local resources and agencies who can provide assistance if you need help. The COVID-19 Resources section is just one of the resources included in the new Mental Health section we have been developing this year to provide parents and students with Mental Health information and resources. Watch for more content to be added over the next few weeks, especially as we get closer to Mental Health Week, May 4-10.
In addition to the resources on our website, and those available through your child’s school, the following mental health supports are also available:
We know any of you have been anxious about what is happening with our staff as a result of the announcement made by Alberta Education on Saturday that funding to school divisions was being reduced for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, and layoffs would be required to make up for the shortfall. We appreciate the support you have shown to our staff as they have adjusted to a different way of providing programming to students.
Early this week, we were able to clarify that while we would be receiving reduced funding for the rest of the school year, school boards would be able to determine how best to deal with the resulting budget shortfall. We appreciate the flexibility provided to us by Alberta Education to find the best solution to meet our needs and, ultimately, the needs of our students.
We are pleased to share that at yesterday’s board meeting, the Northern Lights Public Schools Board of Trustees approved a plan put forward by administration that will address the reduction in funding from the government while minimizing the impact on staffing and the services we provide to our students. By avoiding mass layoffs, we are also able to minimize the effect on our local economy, which has already been severely impacted by the economic downturn, and provide stability to members of our Northern Lights family.
Our focus is always on our students and ensuring we are able to meet their needs. In addition to providing educational programming while classes are cancelled, we also need to be able to continue to provide mental health support to students, specialized services like speech language and occupational therapy, and other supports to meet the complex needs of our students. Our support staff play an integral role in ensuring we are able to fulfill the needs of all of our students, so it was important to us to make sure we were able to retain as many staff as possible.
We were able to offset a large portion of the reduction in funding by identifying areas in our budget where expenses could be reduced as a result of not having students in our schools. We would like to thank our division office and school administration for their work in re-examining their budgets.
In addition to retaining staff, it was also important to us to honour the agreements we had in place with our contractors. As a result of a reduction in funding for transportation, we had to make adjustments to what we are paying our bus contractors, but we were able to do this while adhering to the terms of our contracts.
While we are able to address our shortfall without making a major reduction in staffing, we will be offering our educational assistants, librarians and division bus drivers the option of taking a voluntary layoff. We want to make it clear that this is completely voluntary and they are encouraged to make the best decision to meet the needs of their families at this time.
Unfortunately, there is one area where we were not able to avoid a reduction in staffing. Since our preschool and out of school care programs are completely funded through the fees paid by parents, and those programs are currently not in operation, we have had to release the staff employed in those programs. These staff play an important role in our system and provide valuable services for our families. It is regrettable that we have had to take this step, and we are grateful for the hard work and skills that these staff brought to our team. We fully expect to continue our preschool and out of school care programs once classes resume, and we invite all staff released this week to rejoin us at that point.
The last couple of weeks have been difficult for all of us, and will continue to be difficult as we deal with the ongoing challenges of providing services to our students while classes are cancelled and we deal with the effects of a global pandemic. We are confident that we have developed a plan that will allow us to meet the needs of our students in the weeks to come and help us prepare for the time when we are able to resume classes again.
Next week is Spring Break and we hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy some time with your family and focus on taking care of the people who are important to you. We will be back at work after Easter, ready to connect with you again and work with you to meet the needs of our students.
Arlene Hrynyk Rick Cusson
Board Chair Superintendent
Thank you to all of you who responded to our Sunday evening email with messages of support for our staff and the work they have been doing, as well as offers of assistance. We appreciate the kindness, understanding and gratitude you have shown to our staff as they navigate this new reality we are all experiencing.
We have a few things to update you on today.
Student Learning Activities
We are now in week two of providing student learning activities to families. In week one, we had to make some changes to the way that the folders and files were shared with students and parents. So if you had something bookmarked please delete that bookmark. If it still shows up in your Shared Drives section of Google Drive please ignore it, it will eventually disappear.
So, how do you access the new folders and files?
The easiest way is to go to the main website https://nlpsab.ca and click on Student Learning Activities or you can click here https://www.nlpsab.ca/student-learning-activties and choose your school. You do not need a username or password to access the activities.
Your ongoing support and patience is appreciated as we move forward with our Continuity of Learning plan. This is a new way of teaching for our teachers, and they are required to stay within the time and content limits set by Alberta Education.
We encourage you to continue to connect with your child’s school and teacher to discuss any concerns you have or supports that you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions that have been submitted on our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you submitted a question and do not see the answer, we are probably still trying to confirm an answer. Thank you for your patience.
Question: Is there more information on when parents may receive refunds for some of the purchases made or fees paid before classes were cancelled?
Schools have already begun the process of refunding some fees to parents and some parents may already have received notification through School Cash Online that their refunds are being process. Our preschool and out of school care programs are also working on processing refunds for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
The volume of requests being processed by School Cash Online remains high and it may take awhile for every parent to receive a refund for items that they purchased.
Question: Should the students who were receiving speech and OT services be hearing something this week along with their programming from their teachers? Also does anyone know if summer speech and OT services will be available through AHS automatically for our kids or do we need to contact them ourselves?
If NLPS SLP's and OT's are providing services, you will be getting a call to determine how continued services will be delivered.
We are not sure what SLP and OT services over the summer will look like from AHS. We will share any new information with families of NLPS as soon as we hear.
Question: I am wondering how “touring school options” and registering kids moving into high school from Grade 8 will go?
The good news is that you do not have to register students who are currently in Grade 8 for high school. If they are currently an NLPS student their information will move with them to the next school the same way it does for any other grade level. At some point (we haven't confirmed the date yet) we will send you a Student Update and Verification Form so you can update your contact information and sign forms that we need for next year. As well, your child's current school or the high school will send you information later this year with things you may need to know or some questions they may need answered to help them and you prepare for next year.
As for tours or orientation, that may look a little different or happen at a different time than it usually does, but we will do what we can to provide those opportunities for our students when our schools re-open to the public.
If you have questions or things you would like to discuss with staff at one of our high schools, feel free to reach out at any time.
Question: Will the schools be sending out the login info for various subscription learning sites the schools already pays for? Example: Starfall, ABC Mouse, etc
Some schools have already shared log in information for subscription learning sites that students normally access at school. If there are specific sites you need the information to access, please contact your child's school or teacher.
Question: I appreciate the student learning activities that teachers are going to share, but would like to supplement that with other online learning resources. Do you have any recommendations?
There are many great resources available online for parents and teachers may be sharing some of them with parents along with the student learning activities we are sharing on a weekly basis.
One issue with accessing resources online is finding sites and sources that align with what your student is learning (age and grade appropriate, Canadian content and references, etc.).
The Alberta School Councils' Association has compiled a list of resources that are available online from Alberta Education and Alberta school jurisdictions. This is a good place to find content that has been developed for students in Alberta.
We will also make an effort to post more online resources and links for parents on this Questions and Answers page and on our website as we move forward.
Question: Usually after report cards students in grade 9 to 11 are selecting their classes and electives for next year. I know the situation has delayed that process. However, will we be receiving it shortly?
Our schools have been focused on preparing resources and activities for students. Once everything is running smoothly, they will start discussing how to start preparing students for transitioning to high school (Grade 8's moving to Grade 9) and preparing for next year. When they have established their plan, they will inform parents about what they need to do.
Question: What about Provincial Diploma Exams for Grade 12s? Are they cancelled? What does that mean for students?
PDE’s are cancelled. Alberta Education has clarified that the only exceptions that will be made are for home-school students who need the results to meet entrance requirements for post-secondary institutions; or for adult students who can challenge a diploma exam without taking the course. Exceptions will not be made for students who were intending to re-write an exam to improve their mark.
We had originally planned a shorter update for you this evening, featuring some of the amazing work our staff have been doing to develop student learning activities and connect with our students. Given the announcement that was made by the provincial government on Saturday morning, we will be saving that for another time.
For those who haven’t heard, Alberta Education issued this news release: K-12 education funding temporarily adjusted to match cost late Saturday morning. In subsequent communications sent to school jurisdictions, Northern Lights Public Schools, along with school divisions across the province, was directed to provide notice to educational assistants, other “non-essential” support staff, and board-employed bus drivers.
We have learned that the funding we receive for instruction will be reduced by 14% in May and June, and our transportation funding is being reduced by 51%. In the case of transportation, this will impact the bus contractors who were providing services to our students in addition to the bus drivers employed by the school division.
As many of you are aware, our support staff are an integral part of our Education Continuity Plan. They have worked alongside our teachers for the past two weeks assisting with the development of our plan to provide students with meaningful learning activities while classes remain cancelled. In particular, they have been focusing on how to continue to support some of our most vulnerable students and families. This includes not only students receiving inclusive education programming, but also those who experience food insecurity or instability in their lives outside of school. Amongst other things, we were looking at ways our support staff could get resources and activities to students who do not have access to technology and how they could be involved in providing and delivering meals as part of our School Nutrition Program.
Northern Lights remains committed to providing students with weekly student learning activities from teachers at their schools. However, Saturday’s announcement may result in changes to how often we are able to connect with families and the support we are able to provide to students. We may need to make modifications to the services we provide if large numbers of our staff become ill. Our hope is that we do not find ourselves in this situation, but we feel it is important to be upfront about that possibility.
At this point we do not know exactly what changes we may need to make. We will be receiving more information and seeking clarification from Alberta Education tomorrow morning and than we will need to re-examine our budget before we determine what our next steps will be. As always, when we have important information to share, we will share it with parents as soon as we are able.
We want to extend a big thank you to our students and parents who have so patiently and compassionately supported us over the last two weeks. We want you to know that we appreciate everything you are doing at home with your children as well as the efforts you have made to reach out to our staff and work with them as we adjust to this new reality.
Even though we are physically further apart at this time, our connections to each other are more important than ever. In our message for staff, we thanked them for the efforts they have made to connect with students and engage them in new and fun ways. Many of them are learning new skills and moving outside their own comfort zones to connect with students and families. The feedback we are receiving from students, parents and the community has been overwhelmingly positive and has also helped our staff continue to feel connected to our students and their families.
As our reality continues to shift and change, we will do our best to keep you informed of what is happening.
Starting tomorrow (Wednesday, March 25, 2020), to enhance the actions that have already been taken to reduce exposure to COVID-19 in our schools, NLPS will be providing all non-essential staff with the option to work from home. This might mean that you hear some dogs barking or children playing in the background when your child’s teacher calls to check in.
This does not change the commitment we have made to supporting student learning and sharing weekly student learning activities. Staff will continue their work at home and will still be available to communicate with parents and students.
Some staff will continue to work out of our schools, so if you have questions or need assistance with anything school-related, please feel free to contact your child’s school.
Thank you for all of the questions you have been submitting on our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group. We will have a couple of questions with answers that we will be sharing tomorrow, which we will also include in tomorrow’s email update. If you have a question you would like answered please submit them in the group or send them to email@example.com and we will do our best to get an answer for you.
Thank you for your continued support at this time.
Today’s message is going to focus on what Northern Lights Public Schools is doing to ensure continuity of learning for students. We appreciate the support and understanding we have received from parents while we worked on developing a plan to meet the needs of our students and families.
We know you have questions about other topics and we will touch on some of them in our updates later this week. Please continue to submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers page.
On Friday, we received information from Alberta Education that clarified the expectations for schools in regards to sharing content and learning opportunities with students. We were pleased to see that much of what was recommended in the guidelines that were provided aligned with the plans that we were already putting in place.
As we shared in our last message, our teachers have already begun working on resources and activities to share with families. Student learning activities will be shared on a weekly basis in digital folders that will be accessed through the nlpsab.ca website.
Parents of students in Kindergarten to Grade 9 will be contacted by a staff member and asked about their ability to access online learning activities and discuss what supports may be needed. On either Wednesday or Thursday of this week, parents will receive an email informing them that the lessons for this week are available.
We realize that it may be challenging for some students to participate in online learning and complete all of the assignments provided to them. Please discuss any concerns you have with your child’s school and/or teachers. Our goal is to provide students with learning opportunities that will enhance their skills and knowledge so they are prepared to come back to school when it resumes. However, we also realize that when we do start the new school year, we will need to spend some time helping students learn and/or review the skills and knowledge they need to progress in their studies. We will be putting a plan in place to ensure students have those opportunities and the supports they need to succeed.
After this week, parents can expect to receive an email every Tuesday afternoon letting them know that week’s learning activities are ready to be accessed and any other information they may need. Teachers will be checking in with families on a regular basis to discuss the activities and how students are doing. Alternatives methods may not be available at all schools.
Please note, we will continue to follow the Northern Lights Public Schools’ 2019-2020 School Calendar so new learning activities will not be posted the week of April 6-10 (Spring Break) and school staff will not be available that week.
Our plan for Grade 10-12 looks slightly different, which we will explain below.
Kindergarten to Grade 3
Learning activities for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will focus on the language/literacy and mathematics/numeracy outcomes of the provincial curriculum. Teachers will assign an average of five hours of work per student per week. In addition to literacy and numeracy, teachers will also provide activities from other subject areas such as physical education, wellness, science, art, and social studies.
Grades 4 to 6
Learning activities will focus on language/literacy and mathematics/numeracy outcomes, and there will be opportunities to include science and social studies outcomes as well. Teachers will assign an average of five hours of work per student per week. In addition to the core curriculum, teachers will also provide activities from other subject areas such as physical education, wellness, art, etc.
Grades 7 to 9
Learning activities will focus on core mathematics, language/literacy, science and social studies curriculum outcomes. Teachers will assign an average of 10 hours of work per student per week. There will be opportunities to also share activities from other subject areas such as physical education, wellness, art, etc.
Grades 10 to 12
Content will be focused on specific and core courses required for high school graduation requirements, including language, social studies, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. Content from other courses will be delivered where possible, and accommodations for students who are unable to complete courses are in place. Teachers will assign an average of three hours of work per course per week.
Schools will be contacting families over the next few days to talk about course selection for the remainder of the year and develop a plan that will best meet the needs of students. This will include selecting two core courses for students to focus on. These two courses will be selected based on a number of criteria including:
Focusing on two courses does not mean that students will work on content only from those courses. The majority of their assignments will focus on those courses, however they may be assigned work from other courses they are also enrolled in.
Schools have been provided with flexibility in assigning credits to students for this year. That means that some students may receive credit for a course based on work they have already completed and may not receive additional assignments for that course. Alternatively teachers may ask for certain assignments to be completed to complete the course (fewer than would be required for the two courses students will be focusing on).
There may be some courses that students are unable to complete for a variety of reasons (ie. hands-on courses). In those cases, principals have the ability to award credits to ensure student progression.
High schools have the flexibility to provide up to 15 additional credits for Grade 12 students to ensure their ability to graduate this year if they were on track to graduate prior to classes being cancelled.
We are pleased to be able to provide you with further details about what is being done to provide learning opportunities and support students during this time.
Earlier today, Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange provided further clarification to school divisions about continuity of student learning and service delivery. You can read the full news release HERE.
We were pleased to see that much of the direction and guidance provided aligned with the plans that we have already been working on in conjunction with Lakeland Catholic School Division and Conseil scolaire Centre-Est. We appreciate the balance that has been struck between providing students with opportunities to learn, and understanding the complexities of providing those opportunities outside of the school environment.
Here are a few highlights from the guidelines released today:
Instruction will be on hold temporarily while we finalize our plans for sharing content with parents and students. Our instructional leaders have been mapping out a framework for content and next week our staff will continue developing resources and materials. We will be sharing more details on our model for content delivery and timelines next week with parents.
Last year, during our stakeholder engagements we heard clearly that student mental health needed to be made a priority and we committed to that in our three-year education plan. During this time of uncertainty and change, it is more important than ever that we maintain that focus on mental health.
We know many parents and students have been anxious and feeling a lot of pressure about keeping up with their studies or missing out on learning opportunities. We want to be clear that all students who were on track to progress to the next grade will do so. Our intent in providing weekly assignments and activities is to support our students during this time. It is not meant to cause undue hardship or stress on our families. If you are worried about supporting your child academically during this time, please share your concerns with your child’s teacher. Working together, we will look for solutions that will support your child and work for you.
We also want you to know that while the focus right now is on providing learning opportunities to students while classes are cancelled, we are also looking ahead at what supports students will need when they return to school. We know there will be a period of adjustment that focuses on addressing potential gaps in learning and preparing them for the grade they are about to begin.
The situation we are currently experiencing continues to evolve and we will continue to adapt and follow the guidance and direction we are given. We thank you all for the support you have shown to us and your willingness to work with us during this time.
Our updates today include further details on picking up student belongings, our plan to provide programming for students, and some more frequently asked questions from our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group.
Programming for Students
Instruction will be paused next week while we continue to work with Lakeland Catholic and Conseil scolaire Centre-Est to determine instructional alternatives and program delivery for students. As we have more details finalized about what that will look like and how it will work, we will share them with you.
Schools will be sharing details about the process for picking up student belongings at each school site. Pickup of belongings will take place on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24. The process may be slightly different at each school, so please pay attention to the details in the email sent by your child’s school.
For students who normally take the bus to and/or from school, bus drivers will deliver any student belongings that are not picked up on Monday to the students on their routes on Tuesday. Parents will be contacted by bus drivers to confirm drop off locations and times.
We are working on a plan to possibly deliver items to students who do not normally take the bus, however, it may take awhile to sort out the logistics. We encourage all parents who are able, to pick up their child’s items at schools during the scheduled times.
The following Questions and Answers have been posted in our new Facebook group. We are sharing them here for those of you who do not have access to Facebook. If you have questions you would like us to post an answer to, you can submit a post in the group, or send an email to email@example.com.
Question: Is preschool and kindergarten registration for next year still going ahead?
Answer: Absolutely. Registration for Kindergarten and pre-registration for preschool (for existing students) opened on March 12. Registration for new preschool students will open on March 27 as originally scheduled.
Our early learning open houses have been cancelled, but when restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted, we will make an effort to provide families with a similar opportunity if we can.
If you have questions about our preschool or kindergarten programs, please contact the school and we will be more than happy to answer any questions you have. Our preschool coordinator, Glenda Bouvier, is also happy to answer questions about preschool programming and registration. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-623-4414.
Q: What about fees that have been paid for field trips that are no longer taking place and other items purchased through School Cash Online?
Answer: Some schools have already started the refund process for some items. School Cash Online is experiencing some delays due to a high volume of requests at this time so it may take some time before the refunds are processed.
We will continue to work on this next week and hope to have more answers to the questions we are receiving about refunds by the end of the month.
Question: What about graduation ceremonies? Can they still go ahead at a later date?
Answer: At this time we are unsure of what graduation ceremonies will look like and when they might be hosted due to the restrictions on mass gatherings.
Our focus at this time is on ensuring students have what they need academically, so it may take some time for us to determine how to address graduation ceremonies. We will be working with schools, students and parents in the future to determine what options may be available to recognize this important milestone for our students.
We have a few updates today, including a few frequently asked questions that have been posted on our new Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group.
Coronavirus and Mental Health
While many of us have been preoccupied with our physical health at this time, it is equally important that we do what we can to look after our mental health and the mental health of our families. To assist with this, NLPS has developed a Coronavirus and Mental Health document full of tips, resources and information on maintaining mental wellness during this time.
Programming for Students
All three local school jurisdictions (Lakeland Catholic School Division, Northern Lights Public Schools and Conseil scolaire Centre-Est) met again today to further discuss options to deliver programming to students while classes are cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working collaboratively where possible, the three jurisdictions will be developing learning activities for students at all grade levels. They will also be developing a process for students and/or parents to access those activities.
The three school divisions also continue to wait for additional guidance from Alberta Education about content delivery and Diploma Examinations.
The following Questions and Answers have been posted in our new Facebook group. We are sharing them here for those of you who do not have access to Facebook. If you have questions you would like us to post an answer to, you can submit a post in the group, or send an email to email@example.com.
Q: What about students who were receiving speech or occupational therapy or services through PUF?
A: We are currently working with our inclusive education team and Alberta Health Services to determine how we can continue to support students who were receiving these services. We hope to have a plan in place soon and will be contacting families about what those supports may look like for their children.
Q: When can we come to the school and pick up our child's belongings?
A: In order to comply with the recommendations about social distancing and mass gatherings, we are working on a process that will allow parents to retrieve student belongings while minimizing contact with staff and other parents. The dates for picking up student belongings will be Monday and Tuesday of next week - more information of how this will be accomplished will be communicated later this week. We are working on an option that includes delivery of belongings for some students.
If you have an urgent need for items that are at a school (medical equipment, etc.), please contact your child's school to arrange for a time to pick them up.
Q: I haven't been getting the email updates you have been sending to parents. What is going on?
A: We send out our emails using School Messenger. This allows us to send phone, email and text messages to parents using the contact information that has been provided to our schools.
Parents who download the School Messenger App or go online to go.schoolmessenger.ca and set up an account (using the email address we have on file) can also view messages online or on their devices.
There are several reasons why you may not be receiving our email messages:
To verify if we have your correct email address in our system, please contact your child's school by phone or email. Our administrative assistants can check your information and update it if needed. Please note that if your information needs to be updated in our system, it may take up to 24 hours for everything to sync and for you to start receiving our messages.
If you have downloaded the School Messenger app and created an account, you can change your message preferences in the Preferences section of the app. Make sure the email box is checked for Parent Contact messages and you should receive all of our updates.
More information about School Messenger is available on our website: https://www.nlpsab.ca/parents/parent-tools/school-messenger2, including Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: I'm trying to call my child's school but no one is answering or I get a busy signal. What should I do?
A: Our schools are experiencing a high call volume this week. Teachers are making calls to parents/students to check in and do parent teacher interviews, and many parents are also calling schools with questions about what is happening. Some of our schools have limited phone lines so it may take a few tries to get through.
You can also try contacting your child's teacher(s) through email. Email contact information for each staff member is posted on the school website.
Today’s update will be brief as we continue to work on many of the items mentioned in yesterday’s email.
Programming for Students
All three local school jurisdictions (Northern Lights Public Schools, Lakeland Catholic School Division and Conseil scolaire Centre-Est) are working collaboratively to achieve a similarity in practice regarding program planning and delivery; however, we are waiting for further guidance from Alberta Education. We are starting to prepare a plan and we will provide further information in the upcoming days.
NLPS and our schools have been receiving many questions through Facebook messenger, in addition to phone calls and emails. Since many parents are asking the same questions, and since many of the answers may be of interest to other parents, we have created a new Facebook group - Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers - where we will be posting questions along with the answers that we have at this point and time. We will provide updates to the posts when they become available. Members of the group will be able to pose questions by submitting posts. Those will be reviewed by our Communications team and posted when an answer is available. We will do our best to answer questions as quickly as we can, however, we want our answers to be as accurate and thorough as possible and it may take some time to do that.
Thank you for your patience while we have been seeking clarification and working on what the next few days and months will look like for Northern Lights Public Schools.
Today our division office leadership team participated in a conference call with Alberta Education where we received a bit more direction on how we are to proceed in the coming weeks. Tomorrow we will be speaking to jurisdictional leaders throughout the province to discuss options for providing programming to students. Our goal is to create a plan that will offer learning opportunities for our students and will be consistent with other jurisdictions in the province.
That being said, there is still a lot we don’t know and we ask for your continued patience and understanding while we work our way through all of the details and develop plans to deal with this situation.
We have been receiving a lot of questions from parents and we would like to address some of the more frequently asked questions in this communication. If there are questions we have not addressed, please respond to this email with your question and we will try our best to answer it. Please understand that the situation is changing very quickly and there is still a lot we don’t know or are able to confirm. We want to make sure that when we provide you with information it is as accurate as possible.
Parents will still have the opportunity to discuss their child’s progress with their child’s teacher(s) this week, but it will not be in the format that had been planned. Instead of in-person meetings or student-led conferences, your child’s school or teacher will contact you to set up a time to talk over the phone or via videoconference. Please note that these meetings will focus on discussing your child’s progress to date this year, and not on what programming may be provided to them moving forward. Those details will be shared at a later date.
Many parents and students have asked when they can come to school to collect personal items and other things they have at school. Please do not drop by the school to pick things up as we are unable to provide access to our schools to parents at this time. We are working on a process that will allow people to retrieve belongings and your child’s school will share details with you about the procedure to follow once they have been confirmed. If there are items that are needed urgently (medically related, etc.) please contact your child’s school to make arrangements.
Report cards will be shared with parents this week. Our schools are working on plans to distribute them and will share those plans with parents.
Programming for Students
We can assure you that every student in every grade will receive a final mark for the classes they were enrolled in before classes were cancelled.
As mentioned above, we are working with Alberta Education and other school jurisdictions in the province to determine what continuity of programming for students will look like and what the possible methods of delivery may be. It may take some time to determine how this will work for Northern Lights students.
We want to ensure that we are able to provide students with opportunities that are valuable for them and that we will be able to provide on a consistent basis, while also dealing with the potential impact of COVID-19 on our operations, including staff who need to self-isolate or may become ill.
Once we have a plan developed, we will share details with all of our parents and students.
Provincial Achievement Tests for Grade 6 and 9 students have been cancelled. Provincial Diploma Exams are still going ahead, but there may be changes made to what students will be required to write them and how they are delivered. Alberta Education is working on clarifying this for school divisions and we will update you on this when information is available.
Grade 12 Students and Graduation
As was mentioned by the Education Minister, every student who was on track to graduate will graduate. As discussed above, we will have information in the coming days about how we will be delivering content for students so they can meet course requirements and complete graduation requirements.
At this time we are unsure of what graduation ceremonies will look like and when they might be hosted. We will be working with schools, students and parents to determine what alternatives may be available. Our focus at this time is on ensuring students have what they need academically, so it may take some time for us to determine how to address graduation ceremonies.
Refunds for Field Trips, Pre-Purchased Items, and Fees
As we only learned of classes being cancelled at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, we have not yet had an opportunity to determine what the process will be for refunding fees that parents have paid for field trips that have been cancelled, hot lunches that aren’t going ahead, and our out of school care and preschool programs which have been closed. We hope to have an answer for you before the end of the month.
Services to Students
Our school administrators, mental health consultants, and school counsellors will be working closely with Alberta Health Services to ensure that students who were receiving mental health and counselling services will continue to be able to get the assistance they need.
For students accessing inclusive education services, we are also working with our partners at Alberta Health Services on accessing assistance for families and students. If you have specific concerns, please do not hesitate to call your child’s school for assistance with meeting students’ needs.
We will provide further updates as they become available. Please take care during these challenging times.
I know many of you have questions about the class cancellations announced late yesterday afternoon and I want you to know that we are committed to getting you those answers as quickly as possible.
On Saturday morning, division leadership participated in a conference call with other school division leadership from across the province, Alberta Education and Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. We reviewed guidelines for schools that had been developed to address the spread of COVID-19. This included standards for cleaning, handwashing and social distancing in schools, amongst other things.
We spent time after the conference call, and on Sunday, preparing to implement the recommendations on Monday and developing updates to share with our staff and families. As has been our practice, we wanted to wait until the province’s daily news conference was held so that our communication included information that was as up-to-date as possible. It was at that time that we found out, along with the rest of the province, that classes would be cancelled and schools closed to students immediately.
Today we will be seeking further clarification from Alberta Education about what the cancellation of classes means for our students and our staff. We will also be meeting at the division and school levels to develop plans for the next few days and to start looking at longer term plans as well.
We do not have a clear idea of what the next few days, weeks or months will look like, but as we confirm information and our plans are developed, we will share that information with you. Please monitor your email and check our website (nlpsab.ca) and Facebook page (@nlpsab) for updates.
I realize many of you are anxious about what this means for your children and their learning and I want to assure you that we are committed to doing what we can to minimize the impact on student learning as much as we can while adhering to protocols and direction provided by Alberta Education.
We deeply appreciate all of the support we have received over the last few days. This is a difficult situation and we value your cooperation, understanding and empathy.
Northern Lights Public Schools
Emergency Notice: Schools Closed to Students - As per direction from Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health and Alberta Education, all Northern Lights Public Schools are closed to students indefinitely effective immediately. This includes our preschool and out of school care programs.
We will have an update to provide to parents on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Dear Parents, Staff and Students of Northern Lights Public Schools,
I wanted to take the opportunity, before the new school week starts, to personally thank all of you for your patience and cooperation as we deal with the impact the global COVID-19 pandemic is having on our schools and communities.
The last week has been challenging for students, staff and parents throughout Northern Lights Public Schools and we know we will be facing more challenges in the weeks ahead. What I want you to know is that the health and safety of our students continues to be one of our top priorities. All of the decisions we will make in the coming hours and days will be focused on how to maintain safe and healthy school environments for our students so they can continue to learn and participate in the opportunities provided to them by our schools.
Communication will be key over the next few weeks as we continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. This is a complex and evolving situation so at times our communication may be lengthy, however, we feel it is necessary for our stakeholders to have as much information as possible so you can make informed decisions for the health and wellbeing of yourselves and your families.
We will be sending out additional information soon about what steps we will be taking over the next few days to address the global COVID-19 pandemic. If you have not been receiving our emails, please contact your child’s school to confirm your contact information. During times like these, it is critical that the information provided to your children’s school is up to date.
I know this is a very stressful and sometimes frustrating time for parents and I appreciate the support that has been shown to our schools and our staff during this time. Getting through the next few weeks will require all of us to work together, support each other, and, most importantly, support our children and students. It is important that we maintain a calm and caring environment and minimize the anxiety our students will undoubtedly be experiencing. Part of that is making sure we also take care of ourselves and the people around us.
Please watch for further updates to be provided and if you have questions, please contact your child’s school.
There is a lot of information to share today. Things are changing rapidly and we are trying to provide as much information as we can to help everyone make informed decisions. Our information today reflects some of the frequently asked questions we are getting from students and staff.
Earlier this week we committed to sharing updates about COVID-19 and what we are doing in our schools when there was new information to share. We have been monitoring what has been happening in the province and reviewing the information and updates provided by Alberta Health. A lot has happened over the last couple of days and we have some updates to share with you.
Just this afternoon, Alberta Health recommended that all large gatherings (defined as more than 250 people) be cancelled. At this time, schools remain open, but we will be taking steps to ensure that not more than 250 people are in the same room at any given time. This will affect activities such as school assemblies. We will also be reviewing any upcoming events that may include more than 250 people and will cancel them if needed. We continue to be in close contact with Alberta Health and Alberta Education and will be following any additional recommendations or directives for schools issued with respect to COVID-19.
Our custodians are continuing with their regular practice of cleaning all high touch areas (doorknobs, light switches, bathroom stall doors) and surfaces (including student desks) in our schools on a daily basis. The cleaning product we use is Vert 2 Go and it is hydrogen peroxide based. It is approved by Health Canada. Parents are asked to refrain from sending cleaning wipes (such as Lysol wipes) to school as those products can react with the Vert 2 Go product. Schools have access to cleaning wipes to use during the day if needed.
Our schools regularly remind students of the importance of handwashing and good hygiene practices, but we will be placing greater emphasis on this. This will include:
daily announcements focused on handwashing, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve, etc.
handwashing posters (Handwashing Poster - NLPS) will be placed in all school washrooms and other areas where handwashing might take place
There is a lot of information being shared about COVID-19, some of which is good and some that is not very accurate. We are including some links below where you can find out more information and go to for updates. One of these is a link that provides information about how to talk to children about COVID-19 and what is happening.
We will be providing everyone with another update when we have more information to share. We would like to thank all of your for your patience and co-operation as we work together to maintain a safe and caring learning environment for our students.
Alberta Health has asked us to provide all of our parents/guardians and staff with an update on the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The memo from Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health, is attached to this email.
Please note that while the memo says there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, it was written prior to the information released late last week that there are 4 presumptive or confirmed cases in the province. Updates can be accessed on the Alberta Health Services website.
All Northern Lights schools will continue to follow our standard processes for dealing with illnesses in our schools, including communication with our Zone Public Health contacts when appropriate.
Additional information about how we keep our schools clean, and things parents and students can do to help reduce the spread of illness is available on our website: