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Lethbridge School Division continues to monitor COVID-19 situation

For Division-specific information and updates for parents, please click the link below:
UPDATES

To view the COVID-19 Decision Making Guide, the Pandemic Plan and other important documents, click this link:
COVID-19 INFORMATION

Alberta Health Services daily UPDATE:

The latest update from AHS, from Dec. 1 can be found here: AHS UPDATE.
For a link to the Dec. 1 video update from Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, please visit the following link: DEC1VIDEO.

November 23 UPDATE:

With more than 394,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arriving in the province, Alberta will begin taking vaccine bookings for five to 11 year olds on Nov. 24.

The doses are being distributed to 120 Alberta Health Services vaccination clinics across the province and four pharmacies in communities where AHS clinics are not nearby.

Appointments will be required for all pediatric vaccinations and bookings will open at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Appointments for first doses will begin as early as Friday, Nov. 26. More details on locations where parents can book appointments will be available in the coming days.

“The wait is nearly over for Alberta families with children between the ages of five and 11. Now that there is a safe, effective vaccine approved for use for these youngsters, and with doses arriving in the province, we can start booking appointments. Within days, we will begin administering the first pediatric doses, helping to ensure even more Albertans are protected from COVID-19.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Provincial teams are quickly distributing the newly arrived Pfizer pediatric vaccine to more than 100 locations across Alberta. Our immunization program continues to be one of the best in Canada and we are ready to safely and quickly make these doses available for young Albertans.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“The evidence is clear that the pediatric Pfizer vaccine is highly effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19. Parents who choose to have their young children vaccinated against this virus will not only help to protect their kids but their families and communities too.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Booking a vaccination appointment for children aged five to 11

Pediatric vaccinations will be administered at Alberta Health Services clinics around the province. Vaccines will also be available at four pharmacies where AHS clinics are not conveniently located. First-dose appointments must be booked through the Alberta Vaccine Booking System at alberta.ca/vaccine or by calling Health Link at 811. Walk-ins are not available at this time.

Children five to 11 years of age who live on a First Nations reserve will also be able to access doses through nursing stations or public health clinics on-reserve.

The recommended interval between the first and second doses for children aged five to 11 is at least eight weeks. It is also recommended that children should wait at least 14 days between receiving the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and another type of vaccine.

Restrictions Exemption Program

Children under 12 years of age will continue to have access to businesses and venues participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program, regardless of their vaccination status. This will provide parents and guardians the time to decide if and when their young children will be protected against COVID-19.

Children aged 12 and under are able to access facilities with their parents or guardians who meet the program requirements, as well as participate in youth activities while following current public health measures.

October 27 UPDATE:

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange will provide an update on additional steps being taken to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the following link to view the video: EDUCATION MINISTER

October 25 UPDATE:

Lethbridge School Division has revised the communication processes regarding contact notification. Click the following link for more information: NOTIFICATION

October 5 UPDATE:

Today, the Alberta government announced steps to protect students, parents, teachers and staff with more tools to help fight against COVID-19.
To keep students learning safely in person, Alberta’s government is resuming public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools, initiating contact notification in schools, clarifying COVID-19 outbreak definitions, providing rapid testing kits and encouraging school authorities to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination policies for adults.
Learn more here: FOURTH WAVE

September 15 UPDATE:

The Government of Alberta has announced new temporary health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will apply provincewide.
These measures will take effect on Sept. 16.
The measures that impact our K-12 schools include:

  • Mandatory masking for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that can implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
  • Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
  • For physical activities in schools:
    • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre distance when engaged in physical activity.
    • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
  • Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

    More information can be found here: MEASURES

September 14 UPDATE: 

AHS Public Health is no longer informing school authorities or administrators of individual cases of COVID-19 within their schools. However, should a school experience an absenteeism rate of 10 per cent or greater due to illness, the Division is required to notify AHS. At that point, an investigation may be conducted by AHS Public Health.
If AHS deems it appropriate, AHS will provide further communication to the school community in the form of a letter. This letter, which will be distributed by our schools, will alert the school community that numerous students who are absent from school have reported an illness.
The purpose of this reporting is to continue to monitor for clusters of respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses, and to alert AHS to potential disease outbreaks.
At this point, AHS may declare an outbreak and recommend additional voluntary measures. Additional measures may include active health screening with questionnaires, increasing frequency of cleaning and disinfection, maintaining cohorts, mask recommendations and/or limiting group and extra-curricular activities.

Schools With 10 Per Cent Absenteeism Due to Illness:

Westminster Elementary School - Sept. 16:

AHS LETTER

Park Meadows Elementary School - Sept. 14: 

AHS LETTER

September 3 UPDATE:

Due to increasing COVID-19 transmission and rising hospital admissions, overwhelmingly amongst unvaccinated Albertans, temporary measures are needed to reduce transmission and prevent the health-care system from being overwhelmed.
Currently, more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases in hospital are unvaccinated, including 91 per cent of patients in intensive care.

“Vaccines are safe, effective, and a game-changer. This is why the current wave is different than what we’ve experienced before. While we do not need to return to the same widespread and dramatic measures we had in place earlier in the pandemic, unvaccinated Albertans in particular are still at risk and are placing a heavy load on our health-care system. This is why we are taking measured steps and introducing a new incentive program to encourage more Albertans to get the jab.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“As I have always done, I use the best currently available evidence from Alberta and around the world to inform my recommendations to protect the health of Albertans. With hospitalization rates rising, it is important that we take additional steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. My ultimate goal continues to be to shift from pandemic to endemic and put more focus on the complete health of Albertans – we must learn to live with COVID. Getting vaccinated today is the best possible way for us to get there.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

New vaccine incentive program

A one-time incentive of $100 is now available for all Albertans age 18 or older who receive a first or second dose of vaccine between Sept. 3 and Oct. 14.
This incentive is intended to encourage unvaccinated Albertans to get protected as soon as possible.
After vaccination, eligible Albertans will be able to register online. Alberta Health will validate registrations against provincial immunization data. This website will be available starting on Sept. 13. If Albertans do not have access to a computer, they can contact 310-0000 for assistance, starting on Sept. 13. 

Temporary measures

  • The province will make masks mandatory for all indoor public spaces and workplaces starting Sept. 4 at 8 a.m. Schools are not required to implement masking but school boards will continue to set COVID-19 management policies as they deem appropriate.
  • Also, as of Sept. 4 at 8 a.m., restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs, nightclubs and other licensed establishments will be required to end alcohol service at 10 p.m.
  • In addition, Albertans are encouraged to limit in-person contacts. To support this, the province strongly recommends that unvaccinated Albertans limit their indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only two cohort families up to a maximum of 10 people.
  • It is also recommended that employers pause their plans to have staff return to work and instead continue with work-from-home measures. If employees are working on location, employees must mask for all indoor settings, except in work stations or where two-metre physical distancing or adequate physical barriers are in place.

Additional vaccine incentives

All Albertans who have received two doses of vaccine and are aged 18 and over are eligible for the remaining $1-million draw for the Open for Summer Lottery. To register and for complete details, visit alberta.ca/lottery. The final draw closes Sept. 23.
Fully protected Albertans are also eligible to enter the Outdoor Adventure vaccine lottery. To register and for complete details, visit alberta.ca/outdoor-adventure-vaccine-lottery.aspx. The lottery closes Sept. 9.

Book an appointment and get vaccinated

All Albertans can book appointments via AHS online or by calling 811, or through participating pharmacies. Walk-in appointments for first doses are also available. For schedule and locations, visit ahs.ca/vaccine.

Updated modelling

Based on information available in mid-August, an updated projection of estimated COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to the end of September was developed. Current actual data is trending toward the high end of the projections, therefore numbers may exceed the projections. Peaks in the model are only estimates, and actual peaks may be higher and later than anticipated if current growth trends continue.
This provincial modelling shows intensive care unit patients could possibly peak at around 180 in the medium scenario, although if accelerating trends continue, numbers could reach or exceed the currently projected high scenario at 290.
Other hospitalizations (non-ICU) are currently trending toward the high scenario, with a potential peak of 700 in the next several weeks. If the high scenario peaks are reached, this would mean a greater combined impact on the acute care system than in all previous waves, and if changes in transmission cause greater spread, these numbers could be exceeded.
Modelling is for the entire province. Some regions will experience different case and hospitalization statistics per capita; this will particularly be expected in those areas with lower rates of vaccinations.
Modelling is a dynamic process where there are constant comparisons against observations versus projections. When these comparisons deviate, the model assumptions are re-evaluated, which may change with new information such as outbreak events.
This modelling is now available online. A separate evidence summary has also been posted, including key assumptions and considerations, hospital impact modelling that was developed in June to inform changes announced in late July, and a reference list for further reading.

August 13 UPDATE:

The Government of Alberta released the health guide, tool kit and on-site vaccination ensure safe school year ahead. For more information, and links to all the documentation, click this link: GUIDANCE.

June 30 UPDATE:

The Government of Alberta has released its 2021/2022 School Year Plan. The plan can be found online here: SCHOOL YEAR PLAN.

June 23 UPDATE:

Lethbridge School Division Supt. Dr. Cheryl Gilmore drafted to letter to parents/guardians regarding school start-up for 2021/2022. 
The letter can be found here: START-UP.

June 18 UPDATE:

Effective immediately, anyone who received their first mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) dose in May or earlier can book their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Alberta continues to lead the way in administering second doses in Canada, with more than 25 per cent of its eligible population fully vaccinated. Alberta’s government is speeding up second doses by opening up appointments for all Albertans.
Anyone who received a first mRNA dose in June can also now book their second dose once four weeks have passed since their first shot. This means that more than 983,000 Albertans can book second appointments through Alberta Health Services (AHS) and participating pharmacies and physician clinics.
Albertans who had their first immunization with Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA vaccine) four weeks ago or more can book their second dose through the Alberta Health Services online booking tool, by calling Health Link at 811 or through participating physicians’ offices or pharmacies. To find the closest pharmacy with the earliest available booking date, check the list at Alberta Blue Cross
Albertans who received a first dose of AstraZeneca should continue to wait a minimum of eight weeks before booking their second dose to ensure best effectiveness. Appointments can be booked through Alberta Health Services by calling 811.
First doses are being prioritized. Albertans who have not yet received their first dose of vaccine can still book an appointment and we urge them to do so. Plus, if you receive a first dose and register at alberta.ca/lottery before 11:59 p.m. on June 24, you’re eligible to win $1 million through Alberta’s Open for Summer Lottery.

June 9 UPDATE:

Please see the letter below from Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
The letter is meant to answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines from parents and guardians across Alberta, including those whose children cannot yet be vaccinated (born in 2009 or prior).
English and French versions of the letter can be found here:

SCHOOL LETTER, JUNE 8 - ENGLISH

SCHOOL LETTER, JUNE 8 - FRENCH

May 31 UPDATE:

Lethbridge School Division currently has outbreaks at 5 schools and alerts at 2 schools.
Outbreaks are reported when there are 5 or more cases are confirmed in an investigation, over a 28-day period, where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school.
The Division also tracks active COVID-19 cases in our schools, to provide perspective on the total number of cases in a particular school.
These active cases consistent of students or staff members in a particular school who are currently in quarantine, as part of the COVID-19 investigation at their school.
Schools currently on Outbreak status include:
Galbraith Elementary School – 16 cases (0 active)
Immanuel Christian Elementary School – 10 cases (0 active)
Senator Buchanan Elementary School – 5 cases (0 active)
Senator Fairbairn Middle School – 13 cases (1 active)
Winston Churchill High School – 23 cases (2 active)
Schools currently on Alert status include:
Chinook High School - 1 case (1 active)
Coalbanks Elementary School - 1 case (0 active)

May 28 UPDATE:

Alberta’s government is providing up to $45 million in new funding to jump-start targeted supports for students who require extra help with literacy and numeracy after two school years of pandemic-impacted learning.
The targeted programming is based on feedback from superintendents from school divisions throughout the province on how to best support early learners.
Early research indicates literacy and numeracy are two key areas where some younger children are experiencing challenges as a result of the pandemic. Research also indicates that early intervention with struggling readers can help students catch up to grade level. Without intervention, those students could continue to struggle with reading throughout their school lives.
In March, a voluntary program for schools was launched to assess the impact of the pandemic. It focuses on reading deficits among early learners.
An expert panel is also engaging with Albertans on the impacts of the pandemic on school-aged children. 
In addition, Alberta is committed to renewing the kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) curriculum with a focus on literacy and numeracy. The draft K-6 curriculum emphasizes literacy and numeracy across all grades to give students a strong base of essential knowledge for the future.

May 19 UPDATE:

Government of Alberta news release:

Students across Alberta will return to their classrooms on May 25 as planned, except for students in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

(Please note, for Lethbridge School Division, classes resume on Wednesday, May 26. Tuesday, May 25, has been designated as a Division-wide school-based Professional Learning Day

The two-week shift to at-home learning has given the education system time to address the operational challenges caused by the rise of COVID-19 cases in the province. K-12 students in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo will continue to learn at home for another week, with a targeted return to in-person learning on May 31.
“I’m pleased our two-week plan has been successful in nearly all areas of the province. Everyone has worked hard to stop the spike and I am confident all students will finish the remainder of the school year in the classroom. I want to thank all students, parents, teachers and staff for their efforts and flexibility as we work to keep students learning," said Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education.
All schools in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (public, Catholic, charter and independent) will continue at-home learning for an additional week. Case numbers in this region have not been trending downward at the same rate as in other regions, which means a higher likelihood of continued in-school operational challenges.
The robust health protocols that have been in place in schools will continue, including mask requirements, cohorts, screening for symptoms and seating arrangements. That’s in addition to the added layer of protection with more Albertans getting the COVID-19 vaccine, including school staff and students aged 12 and older.
The expansion of rapid screening testing at schools is also moving ahead as planned in Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge, and in other communities where needed, starting next week. School divisions in Edmonton and Calgary have been offered the opportunity to have testing teams available at select school sites before the return to in-person learning occurs. Rapid testing is another preventative layer against the spread of COVID-19 by quickly identifying people without symptoms who may have the virus. Education’s rapid testing team will work with school divisions on final school selection, logistics, consent process and scheduling.
To date, about 10,800 tests have been conducted in Edmonton and Calgary schools resulting in 44 preliminary positive results. Anyone with a positive screening test is asked to confirm the result by taking a lab-confirmed test at an AHS assessment centre. A positive result on a rapid test will mean that the staff or student will need to be in isolation for 10 days from that date, unless the follow-up test through AHS is negative, in which case they can return to school.

May 11 UPDATE:

Lethbridge School Division currently has outbreaks at 11 schools.
Outbreaks are reported when there are 5 or more cases are confirmed in an investigation, over a 28-day period, where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school.
The Division also tracks active COVID-19 cases in our schools, to provide perspective on the total number of cases in a particular school.
These active cases consistent of students or staff members in a particular school who are currently in quarantine, as part of the COVID-19 investigation at their school.
Schools currently on Outbreak status include:
Chinook High School – 12 cases (1 active)
Dr. Probe Elementary School – 6 cases (2 active)
Galbraith Elementary School – 16 cases (3 active)
G.S. Lakie Middle School – 9 cases (0 active)
Immanuel Christian Elementary School – 10 cases (4 active)
Lethbridge Collegiate Institute – 10 cases (3 active)
Park Meadows Elementary School – 9 cases (7 active)
Senator Buchanan Elementary School – 5 cases (2 active)
Senator Fairbairn Middle School – 14 cases (10 active)
Wilson Middle School – 14 cases (0 active)
Winston Churchill High School – 21 cases (1 active)

May 5 UPDATE:

After offering vaccine to Albertans most at risk for severe outcomes, Alberta has now progressed to Phase 3, where everyone over the age of 12 can make an appointment to receive their first dose. Click here for more information: VACCINE.

May 4 UPDATE:

All Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, and all Early Education Programs, will temporarily shift to at-home learning (Scenario 3), starting on May 7. Students will return to in-class learning on May 25. 
Click here for more information: SCENARIO 3.

May 3 UPDATE:

Alberta teachers, early childhood educators and support staff can start booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments starting May 4.
More than 52,000 certificated teachers, 29,000 support staff and 24,000 child care workers will be able to get the vaccine, helping protect schools, daycares and the health of children and youth provincewide.

April 29 UPDATE:

Targeted restrictions will apply to municipalities or regions where there are at least 350 cases per 100,000 people and 250 currently active cases.
New measures will apply to junior and senior high schools, and sports and fitness activities in these communities.
These targeted restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks for any community or area that reaches this trigger. After 14 days, the enhanced measures will be lifted once the municipality falls back below the threshold.
Click the following link to access the Government of Alberta media release: RESTRICTIONS.  

March 28 UPDATE:

Galbraith Elementary School and Winston Churchill High School have both shifted to at-home learning.

March 25 UPDATE:

Due to the numbers of Early Education Program staff impacted by recent and potential close contact quarantines, along with shortages of subs for staff, we will be moving all Early Education Programming across Lethbridge School Division to “at home” program service delivery for March 29, 30 and 31. April 1 was already a non-scheduled day for Early Education Program children. We apologize for this change, but we wanted to insure families had as much notice as possible to make alternative arrangements for children if needed. Your Early Learning Educator will be in touch with you regarding “at home” Early Education programming that will occur March 29, 30 and 31. We look forward to Early Education Program children returning to “in class” programming on Tuesday, April 13.

March 11 UPDATE:

Starting in mid-March, rapid COVID-19 tests will be offered at two Calgary schools to help assess rapid on-site testing in schools.
More than 100,000 kits will be made available for this pilot program. Rapid tests will be offered every week for up to three weeks to screen students with no symptoms.
One school from both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District will participate. The specific locations have not yet been selected.
Results from the first three weeks of the pilot will inform how the pilot program can be successfully expanded to include more schools and regions in the weeks ahead.
A testing team will set up at each participating school. Staff must sign a consent form and students must have a consent form signed by their parents or guardians to get tested.
This pilot program will help to determine the effectiveness of using rapid screening tests to manage outbreaks in schools. It will also evaluate the benefits of using rapid tests to reduce the risk of transmission in schools experiencing outbreaks by quickly identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms.

Feb. 9 UPDATE:

The Critical Worker Benefit will provide a one-time payment of $1,200 to eligible Albertans in recognition of their hard work to provide Albertans with the care and critical services they need.

The benefit will be distributed to more than 380,000 workers in the health-care, social services, education and private sectors.

Through the Critical Worker Benefit, the Government of Alberta will distribute up to $465 million in funding to eligible workers. This includes up to $118 million in provincial funds, in addition to $347 million from the federal government’s benefit program for low-wage critical workers.

Eligible workers in the health care, social services, education and private sectors will receive a $1,200 benefit distributed through their employers.

Applications from private sector employers will be accepted starting on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Private sector employers have until Friday, March 19, 2021 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their eligible employees.

To be eligible for the benefit, education workers must:

  • have worked a minimum 300 paid hours for a provincial school authority or a contractor with a provincial school authority, between October 12, 2020 and January 31, 2021

Hours are for paid work and may include some virtual or online work where the work was performed with students.

The minimum number of paid hours (300) will be prorated for periods of time when schools were required to be closed.

As each school district had different dates when schools were closed, minimum hour prorations will be calculated on a case-by-case basis for individual school authorities.

Eligible occupations

The following education occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

  • educational or teacher assistants
  • bus drivers
  • custodians and janitors
  • school secretarial staff-related positions

Feb. 6 UPDATE:

Mandatory restrictions - Provincewide - Effective Feb. 8

All participants must be 18 years old or younger, except coaches or trainers.

Group physical activities

Children and youth will be allowed to participate in limited group activities.

  • Lessons, practices and physical conditioning activities are allowed for indoor and outdoor minor sports/activities and school athletics (for example, school sport activities that are outside of a physical education class or related part of the school curriculum).
  • Games are not allowed.
  • Maximum of 10 total individuals, including all coaches, trainers, and participants.
  • Physical distancing must be maintained between participants at all times:
    • 3-metres physical distance for indoor activities
    • 2-metres physical distance for outdoor activities
    • coaches or trainers may enter physical distancing space for brief interactions with participants (for example, to correct form or technique)
  • Participants must be masked at all times, except during the training activity. Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
  • Access to change rooms must be limited, including accelerated arrival and departure, emergencies (for example, first aid) and washroom use.

Performance activities

Children’s performance activities are permitted if related to school activities, such as music class.

Off-site facilities

K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are allowed to use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.

Jan. 30 UPDATE:

The Government of Alberta has developed steps and benchmarks to easing restrictions for businesses and individuals while protecting the health-care system. 
Each step has an associated benchmark of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including intensive care patients. Changes to restrictions will be considered once a benchmark is reached.
The hospitalization benchmarks are:

  • Step 1 – 600 and declining
  • Step 2 – 450 and declining
  • Step 3 – 300 and declining
  • Step 4 – 150 and declining

With hospitalizations dipping below 600, Alberta will move to Step 1 on Feb. 8.

For schools, the following changes will come into place on Feb. 8:

  • Children’s sport and performance activities are permitted if related to school activities, such as physical education classes.
  • K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are allowed to use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.

Group or team sports not permitted

  • No sports games, competitions, team practice, league play or group exercise of any kind is allowed.

More information on the changes can be found here: HEALTH MEASURES

Help Prevent the Spread video:

Government of Canada information:

The Government of Canada has released a Question and Answer document on COVID-19 for your reference. They closely monitor travelers returning from travel to Canada and address issues as they present.
The document can be found here: QUESTIONSANDANSWERS

Public Health Agency of Canada's Travel Health Advisories page can be found here: ADVISORIES

World Health Organization information:

The latest information from the World Health Organization can be found here: WORLDHEALTHORGANIZATION

The WHO's bulletins for updated travel advice can be found here: BULLETINS.

Lethbridge School Division will continue to keep families and staff informed as the Division moves forward, and as any further updates are received from Alberta Education and Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services.

Division schools receive funds through Lethbridge 2020 Alberta Summer Games Society Parent engagement opportunity set for Monday, Dec. 6