School Re-Entry Plan 2021-22
Back to School 2021-2022 Plan
FOR PWPSD SCHOOLS
Welcome back to the 2021-2022 school year with Peace Wapiti Public School Division! In order to continue on our journey toward a more “normal” educational experience for our students in light of COVID-19, we ask that you read the following information. Together, we can ensure that our students receive an excellent public education that inspires them to learn, grow and succeed.
On September 16, 2021, the Government of Alberta shared additional restrictions to be added to the August 13 guidance document for the 2021-2022 school year:
- Alberta Education - 2021-2022 School Year Plan
- Alberta Health - Guidance for Respiratory Illness Prevention and Management in Schools
Our Back to School Plan is designed to support our schools in reducing the risk of transmission of illness and maintaining safe and healthy environments for our students and staff. Some procedures we introduced in our schools last year will continue as we know they are good practices in minimizing the transmission of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, influenza, and common colds.
The health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff remain our first priority. We recognize that our plan must be flexible and we remain responsive to the direction and guidance of Alberta Education and Alberta Health. This means that, at any point during the school year, the province could change the required health measures for schools across Alberta, schools in a particular region, or individual schools and classrooms.
Peace Wapiti Public School Division will continue to use a range of safety strategies, which are provincially mandated measures, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
These strategies include:
- requiring the use of masks for all students and staff on school busses as per provincial requirements
- daily health screening for students and staff before coming to school/work
- a stay-at-home protocol for those who are sick
- enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in schools and on busses
- promote good hand hygiene protocols for students and staff
- promote good respiratory etiquette
- masking in schools
- cohorting elementary students
For a complete list of current provincially mandated measures please visit: https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-public-health-actions.aspx
Resuming for the 2021-2022 School Year
Understanding that many of our students and staff may be vaccinated, many of the restrictions that we have used over the past year will end.
Resuming for the 2021-2022 School Year:
- Grades 6 and 9 Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) will resume as per normal practice in the 2021–2022 school year
- The administration of Grade 12 diploma exams will resume and be mandatory in the 2021–2022 school year, as per normal practice. Diploma exams will be offered in every diploma course subject in November, January, April, June and August.
- Local and provincial field trips
- Athletics and extracurricular activities
- All fine arts and options classes
- Assemblies and special events may be conducted at the school’s discretion; cohorts should remain two metres apart
- Graduation and School Farewell activities, plans must include a COVID-19 contingency plan
Guidance for PWPSD School Re-entry
Normal school operations with health measures
Before leaving home, staff (including substitute teachers), students (or their caregivers) and visitors, should assess whether they feel well enough to attend school for any reason.
● Parents/guardians should assess their children daily for any new signs or symptoms of COVID-19 using the Alberta Health Daily Checklist.
● Anyone that reports COVID-19 symptoms is directed to stay home, seek health care advice as appropriate (e.g., call Health Link 811, or their primary health care practitioner), and fill out the AHS Online Self-Assessment tool to determine if they should be tested.
● For information on isolation for staff and students with symptoms, or for confirmed COVID-19 cases, please see Management of Symptomatic Individuals and Individuals Tested for COVID-19 (Appendix B).
● Chronic symptoms that can be explained by a pre-existing medical condition (e.g. allergies) may be considered part of an individual’s baseline health status. As long as these symptoms do not change, the individual can continue to attend school/work.
PWPSD promotes and facilitates frequent and proper hand hygiene for all students, staff and visitors, such as:
● Placing hand sanitizer in convenient locations throughout the school where soap and water may not be available or nearby, such as in entrances, exits and near high touch surfaces.
● Promoting hand hygiene before/after activities (e.g. entering/leaving school or classroom, boarding/exiting the bus, changing activities, before and after using shared equipment, before and after eating or serving food, after using washrooms, before and after having physical contact with other staff or students, etc.).
● Giving verbal reminders for hand hygiene and posting signs.
● If parents have questions about their child using alcohol-based hand sanitizer they should contact their school administration to discuss potential alternatives.
PWPSD will continue to follow the direction provided by the province.
● Students in grades 4 and up are required to wear face masks unless seated at their own desk, facing forward.
● Students in kindergarten to grade 3 are not required to wear face masks, however it is recommended.
● Teachers in all grades are required to wear face masks while instructing, unless at least two metres of distance can be kept between themselves and all students at all times.
● All parents/guardians, volunteers and visitors to PWPSD schools are required to wear face masks while inside the building.
● Face shields are not equivalent to non-medical face masks and are insufficient on their own. Face shields may be warn in addition to a face mask, at the discretion of the individual.
● Encourage students, staff, volunteers and visitors to use proper respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing into the elbow or a tissue, discarding tissues immediately into a lined bin, performing hand hygiene).
○ Have information available (e.g. signs) for individuals on these practices, as needed.
● Cohorting is required for all elementary classes (K-6).
● Cohorting should be maintained during activities outside the classroom, such as recess and lunch breaks. If students from different cohorts wish to socialize, they should remain two metres apart.
● Cohort sizes should be minimized as much as possible. Schools are encouraged to reflect on their context and make appropriate cohorting decisions taking into account school size, school utilization, student absentee rates, community COVID-19 rates, etc.
● Physical distancing in all school settings should be maintained whenever possible.
● Indoor sports, fitness, recreation, and performance activities will continue to be permitted in schools, with requirements to maintain two metre physical distancing where possible.
o Masks and distancing are not required by youth under 18 while engaged in physical activity.
● Spectator attendance is restricted to 1/3 of the fire code capacity. Attendees must be masked and must maintain two metres of physical distance between households. Individuals who live alone may sit with their two designated close contacts.
○ Proper ventilation and airflow is one of many ways we are maintaining safe learning spaces for staff and students this year.
○ All of our schools meet or exceed recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in relation to COVID-19. We will continue to adapt to any changes to the ASHRAE guidelines throughout the year. In our schools, this means:
■ using one of the highest grade filters available
■ more frequent filter changes scheduled throughout the year
■ maximizing airflow and fresh air intake
■ extending running time for mechanical systems by four hours during school days
■ mechanical systems are inspected on an ongoing basis throughout the year
● All Division buildings have mechanical systems that allow for fresh air intake. When weather allows, we encourage schools to open classroom windows and use outdoor learning spaces.
● Schools will continue with the enhanced cleaning practices that began last year, including regular cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces.
Each school may consider controls to mitigate high traffic areas. This may include:
● Staggering start and end times for classes and breaks to avoid crowded hallways.
● Strategizing bus loading at each site.
● Posting signs and marking floors.
● No sharing of lockers. Some schools may stagger usage and times for students to access their lockers.
Visitors and volunteers are permitted in schools and will be required to follow the protocols outlined below:
● Before leaving home visitors should assess whether they feel well enough to attend the school using the Alberta Health Daily Checklist. If they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they must stay home and not attend school.
● Visitors entering a school will be required to wear a mask and practice hand hygiene.
● Schools may limit visitor and volunteer numbers in response to student illness and absentee rates.
● Masking is required for all students and staff on school buses as per provincial requirements until further notice.
● Buses will be equipped with hand sanitizer.
● The PWPSD Transportation Department has developed procedures to align with public health requirements to enhance student safety:
○ Where feasible, limit the number of students per bench, unless from the same household. Students from the same household may share seats.
○ If a child becomes symptomatic during the bus trip, the driver will contact the school to make the appropriate arrangements to pick up the child/student.
○ The first row of seats directly behind the driver will remain open, when possible.
● School bus cleaning:
○ School buses will have increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, window areas, rails, steering wheel, mobile devices and GPS prior to each run.
Exceptions to the mask requirement on school buses are listed in CMOH Order 44-2021. To receive a mask exception the Medical Note for Mask Exception form must be completed by a qualifying health care professional and returned to the school administrator.
Using the Short-Term Rider Form to arrange short-term changes in transportation, such as going home with a friend on another bus, will be permitted.
● Off-site activities must follow the school guidance, as well as any sector-specific restrictions relevant to the location of the field trip. This includes physical distancing, use of masks, cohorting for students in kindergarten through grade 6, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
● Organization of facility staff at the off-site activity must maintain physical distancing of at least two metres from the visiting students and staff.
● Cohorts should be maintained during transportation to and from any external field trip site, as well as at the location of the field trip site. If two cohorts share a bus, they must remain two metres apart.
● Students are able to participate in a group performance activity (e.g. singing, dancing, playing instruments, theatre) as part of their education program curriculum.
● Singers and wind instrument musicians should keep two metres away from other performers and individuals at all times.
● Wind instruments should be equipped with a cover intended to prevent droplet transmission.
● In indoor settings, groups should not sing or play win instruments for more than 30 minutes at a time, with a 10-minute break afterwards to allow for air exchange in the room.
● When performance activities involve singing, all singers, including students in kindergarten through grade 3, are strongly encouraged to wear masks when singing indoors.
● \Classes that teach food preparation may occur as long as students follow general precautions, such as ensuring hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, wearing non-medical face masks, maintain two metres physical distancing (where possible) and avoiding handling common or shared utensils or cookware.
● Parents/teachers can provide food/treats for a classroom if there is a designated person servicing the food and appropriate hand hygiene is followed before and after eating.
● Classroom meals and snacks: there should be no common food items (e.g. salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottle, etc.); designated staff should serve food items using utensils
● Food service programs (e.g. cafeteria) establishments: students in kindergarten through grade 6 should remain in their cohorts for meal breaks.
Symptomatic students and staff
● Schools are encouraged to have a plan in place if a student or staff member develops any symptoms of illness while at school. This can include:
○ Sending home students or staff who are sick, where possible.
○ Having a separate area for students and staff who are sick and waiting to go home.
● Students or staff members who have any of the core symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, loss of sense of smell or taste, sore throat (adults only) or runny nose (adults only)) are required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result, as per provincial guidelines.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19
● AHS Public Health will not inform school authorities or administrators of individual cases of COVID-19 within their school setting, as notification to the school is not required for the individual’s case management.
● Staff, students or parents/guardians may choose to notify school administrators of a positive COVID-19 test result, however it is not required.
● School administrators and/or school authorities are not required to contact AHS to report student or staff cases.
● School administrators should continue to monitor their school population for additional cases (e.g. an individual voluntarily shares they are positive for COVID-19 or they start to experience COVID-19 symptoms while at the school) and/or absenteeism due to illness.
● If required, the decision to move a portion of a school, such as individual grade(s) or class(es) to at-home/online learning due to operational reasons (i.e. staffing issues) may occur.
An important step we can take to ensure the health and safety of our community is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Children aged 12 and up are eligible to receive a first and second dose of an approved vaccine in Alberta.
Peace Wapiti Public School Division will support Alberta Health Services as it runs temporary vaccination clinics in schools. Immunization is voluntary and will be available in September and October for eligible students in Grades 7-12, born in 2009 or earlier, and staff. Parental consent will be required for in-school immunizations.
Below are links to additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine to help you make an informed decision for your family.
Due to privacy laws, we cannot ask or disclose if students and staff are vaccinated.
At PWPSD, we recognize the importance of early intervention for children and families experiencing mental health challenges. Our Mental Health Professionals offer specialized therapeutic support to children and families requiring school based mental health services. To support our students and staff, PWPSD has provided staff learning opportunities to increase their ability to identify and access school based and local support services. In addition to the services that are available within our schools,
parents or guardians who are concerned for their child’s well-being can contact these community resources:
Alberta Mental Health Help Line 1-877-303-2642
Provides 24/7: confidential, anonymous service, information about mental health programs and services, referrals to other agencies if needed.
Grande Prairie Addictions and Mental Health:
● In Person: Aberdeen Centre - 9 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday. Aberdeen Centre's address is 9728 - 101 Avenue, Grande Prairie, AB
● By Phone: (587) 259-5513 - 7 days a week - 9 am to 7 pm
Services for the treatment of mental health or substance abuse problems. Tell them if it is urgent (e.g., suicide risk). They can connect you to counselling, treatment, groups, etc.
Alberta Health Services Addictions Help-Line 1-866-332-2322
For anyone with concerns about alcohol, drug, gambling or tobacco problems.
Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 (up to age 20), text 686868 or live chat at www.kidshelphone.ca
Health Link: 811
Indigenous Hope for Wellness Help Line
Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; online chat at Hope for Wellness Chat.
Online Resources are available if you need advice on handling stressful situations or ways to talk to children.
Appendix B: Management of Symptomatic Individuals and Individuals Tested for COVID-19