On Jan. 5, the Government of Alberta confirmed students are returning for in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 10.
With that in mind, Lethbridge School Division is revising its re-entry plan, which will be sent to families by the end of the week. A new component of the plan will include updates on the ventilation upgrades the Division has completed, along with details on the procedures we follow to provide the best quality of air for our buildings. These measures are critical to the Division’s commitment to safe building environments for our students and staff.
In the meantime, here are a few important details:
- All individuals must still review the Alberta Health Daily Checklist with their children before sending them to school. Students and staff exhibiting any symptoms must remain at home until symptoms resolve. A new checklist is currently in development, and the Division will share this with our community once it has been released by the government.
- In the case of a high number of student or staff absences, it may become necessary to move to temporary online learning. Should this happen, learning will take place primarily using the Teams platform.
- Temporary online learning will take place only when it is not possible to continue in-person learning because of high student or staff absences. Online learning is not being offered as an alternative to in-person learning. Should it be operationally required, school authorities continue to have the ability to shift a class or a grade to at-home learning at their discretion. Shifts to online learning for schools, or entire school divisions, will require approval from Alberta Education.
- In terms of COVID-19 case reporting, Alberta Health Services will no longer investigate COVID-19 cases within schools. As a result, school COVID-19 outbreaks will not be reported on the Government of Alberta website, and schools will not send case notification messages home to parents. The exclusion process for Kindergarten to Grade 6 has also been rescinded by AHS.
- The Government of Alberta is providing rapid test kits and medical-grade masks for use by students and staff members. These are expected to start arriving in school divisions next week. Students will have the option of wearing these newly-supplied masks, other medical-grade masks or the types of masks students have worn previously, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Rapid tests are being sent home to be used on a voluntary basis, to give parents and guardians the option to test their children at home if they wish. Should parents not want rapid tests sent home, they will be asked to share that information with their schools.
- The province has clarified that masking guidelines are in place for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. Teachers and students will wear masks at all times, except when they are eating and drinking, and during mask breaks where they are age appropriate. The province will review these mask guidelines going forward.
- January diploma examinations for senior high students are cancelled. No decisions have been made about the April and June diploma examinations. Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs), Part A, have been postponed to the week of Jan. 20.
The Division is hopeful disruptions to in-school learning will be minimal, as we know families and students are thankful to be reconnecting with schools next week.
We look forward to students going back to school under the careful watch of our dedicated team of educators, who are committed to helping students flourish as learners and individuals.
Families may have additional concerns and questions, and we ask for patience as we adjust to this rapidly-evolving situation, and as the Division waits for provincial guidance documents, which will allow us to update other aspects of our re-entry plan. Our website and social-media accounts will be updated over the weekend as these details emerge.
Thank you for your continued understanding, co-operation and support for Lethbridge School Division.