Potential changes to the Division Pandemic Plan were discussed at a Special Meeting of the Board held April 19, 2021. The discussion targeted change in language pertaining to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
The discussion was preceded by clarifying the purpose of the Division’s Pandemic Plan and distinguishing it from the purpose of the Division’s COVID-19 2020-2021 School Re-entry Plan.
A. Pandemic Plan
The Lethbridge School Division Pandemic Plan is the broad umbrella Board document that is used to guide decision-making and actions in any pandemic circumstance. It is not designed to be specific to a particular pandemic. The Pandemic Plan considers all services offered by Lethbridge School Division and rates them as critical, vital, necessary, and desired.
Desired services are those that can be delayed for two weeks or longer. For pandemic purposes, these are services that will be deemed as non-essential until such a time as either staff levels are back to normal and/or priority necessitates (p. 11).
The primary reasons for categorizing services as essential and non-essential, including co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, in a Pandemic Plan is to ensure that:
- Resources and staff focus on what is essential because the capacity of staff is limited by the number of staff available to deliver services as well as the additional burden staff carry due to added tasks at work as well as potentially added tasks in their homes caring for others.
- There are not additional health-related risks due to engagement with non-essential services.
B. 2020-2021 School Re-entry Plan.
Re-entry Plans, such as the one developed for the 2020-2021 school year, is specific to a pandemic such as COVID-19. It falls under the umbrella of the Division’s Pandemic Plan. The purpose of a re-entry plan is different from the Pandemic Plan. It is to provide ongoing operational details framed by the operational needs of the division and parameters put in place by provincial and federal health services and provincial education. It is considered a fluid document that will change to recognize changes in provincial requirements, local needs, and Board direction. Operational guidelines in the re-entry plan should not be incongruent with the Division Pandemic Plan.
Currently the Lethbridge School Division Pandemic Plan states the following: All co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are considered non-essential and prohibited once Level 5 has been reached (if Lethbridge is part of the defined geographic region at level 5) and Level 6 (global level). This places safety of students, staff, and community as the first priority. (p. 12).
Trustees voted to add the following statements to the Pandemic Plan following the above statement on page 12:
- The exception to “prohibited” co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are those activities that can be delivered on-line. It must be kept in mind that these are still considered “non-essential,” and each school site will determine whether the circumstances at the school are such that there is staff capacity to manage the on-line activity(ies). On-line co-curricular and extra-curricular activities still require staff time and administrative attention to ensure appropriate parameters are in place including membership restrictions (if any), strategies to ensure digital citizenship and safety, and supervision that is structured in a manner that provides for close monitoring of the activity and interaction among club/ team members and potential external audiences.
- Depending upon the length and nature of a Pandemic at Level 5 or 6, the Board may consider other exceptions to prohibited activities. If an exception is made by the Board, these activities would follow all guidelines outlined in the Division Re-entry Plan specific to the pandemic as well as provincial health guidelines for engaging in any activity. Student participation in such activities will require a signed acknowledgement of risk that will be provided by the school division.