Communication from the Division
You will continue to receive weekly updates through the Superintendent about school start-up. These weekly updates are designed to provide more details about programming, and the Parent Guidebook for School Re-Entry 2020-2021 will be revised as necessary to address questions arising from families. Regular updates are posted on the Division’s website, our schools’ websites, and our official social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
Communication from the school
Following the completion of the School Re-Entry Online Education Survey on Aug. 6, 2020, if you provided your contact information, the school principal or designate from the school will contact you to confirm who will be teaching your child(ren) and how online education will start. Throughout August and into the school year, you will receive a message from your school principal about orientations, classes, and any other important programming requirements at the school level.
Staggered Entry and Delayed Start
- Staggered Start for K-9 Face-to-face Students:
Aug. 31, 2020: only students whose last names begin with A-K will attend school on this day
Sept. 1, 2020: only students whose last names begin with L-Z will attend school on this day
- Regular Classes for all students
Sept. 2, 2020: regular classes resume on this day
- Delayed Start for K-9 Online Students:
Sept. 8, 2020: online education classes for K-9 students begin, which is a delayed start for these students
Aug. 28 – Sept. 4, 2020: principals will continue to confirm online registrations. Online teachers will work with Division staff to prepare for the start-up. Online teachers will contact parents/legal guardians to share details about school start-up (schedules, routines, and where and how to access materials).
Online students do not come to school until Sept. 8 unless they are in high school.
- High Schools (Grades 10, 11, and 12) and MCHS (Grades 9 – 12)
SACHS: All students begin c lasses on Aug. 31, 2020. Initial classes will focus on safety protocols and health measures. New students have already had their orientation on Aug. 27, 2020.
MCHS: Grades 9 and 10 students return with a specific staggered re-entry schedule on Aug. 31, 2020. All Grades 9–12 students start school on Sept. 1, 2020.
- Pre-Kindergarten programs
Aug. 31 – Sept. 4, 2020: Pre-Kindergarten Family Orientation Meetings – The teacher will contact the family to set up a time
Sept. 8 – 9, 2020: Staggered entry
Sept. 10, 2020: All children attend school
Arriving at school
All students will have an assigned door to use every time they enter and exit their school. When students arrive at school, they will:
- go to the area outside their assigned door
- follow physical distancing guidelines to stay at least two meters apart while they wait outside
- follow physical distancing guidelines to line up when it is time to enter the school
- wait for staff to bring them into the school
School staff will be outside to remind students of these requirements, and to help students line up and keep an appropriate distance from each other. Many schools will develop staggered entry schedules to limit how many students enter the school at once. This schedule may be slightly different from the regular bell schedule.
During extreme weather, such as severe cold or rain, schools will have a plan in place so students can enter the school early. Adults bringing students to school will be asked to stay in their vehicle or outside the school, and to maintain a safe physical distance between themselves and others. Those who need to enter the school must book an appointment with the school office. Individuals without an appointment will not be able to enter the school.
Signs and arrows
Schools will use information on posters and on the floor (arrows/foot markers) to help students to maintain physical distancing within the school and to know which way to walk through the hallways.
Laminated signs will be displayed throughout the school as reminders to:
- Help Relaunch Safely
- Please do not enter, if…
- Self-screening Questionnaire
- How to wash your hands
- How to use hand sanitizer
- How to wear a face mask
- Practice physical distancing
- School closure
- Elevator safety
Lockers, coat hooks, and school supplies
In the earlier versions of these guidelines, we recommended limiting students’ access to lockers and coat hooks due to distancing protocols and gathering restrictions. Newly revised guidelines from the Alberta Government envisage the potential of using coat hooks and lockers only when measures are in place to minimize crowding:
- spacing lockers/coat hooks out when possible and
- assigning lockers/coat hooks based on cohort/grade/class.
Because as we start school, it is difficult to ensure that crowding is easily minimized, school principals have worked with staff to have students bring what they need for the day and keep school supplies and textbooks in their backpacks or in storage solutions proposed by classroom teachers to minimize locker visits or the need to go to cubbies and coat hooks.
We continue to support teachers to direct the best way to store items, and, in consultation with the school principals, this guideline may change as health guidelines evolve or as protocols are developed to ensure that health measures can be met by accessing lockers and coat hooks.
Students will have their own personal supplies to use that are stored separately. Teachers will plan learning activities to reduce or minimize the need to share equipment, textbooks, or materials. If items are shared, they must be cleaned and disinfected after use. Students will wash or sanitize their hands both before and after using the shared items.
Washrooms and common areas
Washrooms will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. There will be a maximum number of students permitted in the washroom at one time. Depending on the size of the school and the location of washrooms, schools may assign students to specific washrooms.
Areas such as libraries and gymnasiums may be used as classrooms and this will be determined by the school principal. Gatherings will be discouraged in all common areas, and limitations placed on resource sharing to ensure that all health guidelines can be met.
Junior high and high schools will work with their school community to decide if students will be allowed to leave campus during lunch breaks. If students are permitted to leave the school building, they must:
- exit through their assigned door;
- respect physical distancing and all other COVID-19 health protocols when off campus;
- assess whether they have any symptoms of illness before they re-enter the school—students with newly developed symptoms will not be permitted to return to school; and
- re-enter the school through their assigned door.
Additionally, high schools will need to determine if students may leave campus and return to the school building during a spare period. Schools will also need to identify a space or spaces in the school where students on spares can be accommodated while physical distancing.
Schools will not assign staff to supervise playground equipment before and after school. To support safety, this equipment will be off-limits to students during these times. Families who wish to take children to the playground at other times of the day are encouraged to follow the province’s Guidance for Playgrounds to use the equipment as safely as possible. School principals will review the guidance for playground use and decide whether to permit playground access during school hours.
Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten
Early childhood education is following many of the suggestions provided by the Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Daycare and Out-of-School Care. Like all classrooms, Pre-K and K classes focus on creating cohorts (a group of children and staff members assigned to them who stay together throughout the day). Multiple safety measures for young children will be in place, such as hand hygiene, cohorting and sub-cohorting, and physical distancing, as well as PPE will be available to school personnel, such as a therapist, who is not part of the cohort.
In addition, extra attention is paid to limiting interactions while waiting for parents at pick-up times and while students are waiting to enter school at drop-off times. These smaller groupings/sub-cohorts also spend time together at mealtimes, playtimes, and outdoor activities.
Pre-kindergarten - Grade 9 Classes
In Pre-K-9, Pre-K-5, Pre-K-6, 5-8, and 7-9 schools, students will stay with their classroom as a cohort and teachers will travel to classrooms as much as reasonably possible. Core (English/French Language Arts, Math, Science, Social, Religion, Physical Education, and Health), and option courses will be offered by following Alberta Health guidelines.
For example, Foods in junior and senior high will be limited to students making and sharing their own equipment to make individual meals. Also, other options may continue as normal (Dance, Drama, Art, Photography, Sports Medicine, Outdoor Ed., FSL) by following all health guidelines in this handbook or that emerge. Construction will be limited based on how best to share and cleanse tools. Robotics will be limited to the number of students compared to kits so that there are no shared kits.
With recently updated guidelines for music, band may offer opportunities for playing instruments:
- in a space where band students could be physically distanced on all sides (e.g. gymnasium, outside), band classes may be considered;
- wind instruments may require special consideration and/or extra distancing;
- shared instruments should not be used unless they can be fully cleaned and disinfected between students;
- chairs and music stands should be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
Singing is still not an encouraged activity at this time.
Grades 10, 11, and 12 classes
In high schools, we will implement a quarterly schedule for all courses. This means that students will take core and option classes in a compressed schedule of Sept. – Nov., Nov. – Jan., Jan. – April, or April – June. The reason for this scheduling is to have students take part in fewer classes to maintain smaller cohorts. This will also maintain minimal disruption to writing diplomas and completing high school programming if schools are required to switch between scenarios one, two, and/or three.
Grade 3 Student Learning Assessments will be optional.
Grades 6 and 9 Provincial Achievement Tests will not be administered.
Diploma Exams continue to be mandatory. Diploma schedules will be communicated by your school. All diploma exams will be offered every quarter.
Respectful Inclusive Supported Education (RISE) Anchor programs (Jr./Sr. High Schools) and Inclusive Education
Our RISE program students will come to school as a cohort (the same students with the same staff) every day. Students will continue to take part in classes face-to-face unless those students choose online education.
Students will continue to take part in classes face-to-face and access resources virtually (e.g., Google Classroom) to ensure that they have necessary medical care, when needed, and targeted and individualized support to meet their personalized education goals. Staff who are working with RISE students face-to-face in closer than 2m proximity will be provided with masks, face shields, gloves, and gowns, to be used when necessary based on Alberta Health Services’ guidelines.
For students who have diverse learning needs, returning to school can cause additional concern or anxiety. We are taking steps to support students, which include:
- working with Alberta Health Services on COVID-19 safety protocols for some of the complex medical interventions and supports that some students require, to keep both students and staff as safe as possible;
- applying COVID-19-specific strategies to Individual Program Plans (IPPs), Individual Care Plans or Individual Student Behaviour Plans; and
- addressing effective learning strategies for online learning in IPPs.
More information about how we’re supporting students with diverse learning needs during COVID-19 will be available in school and division communications, including this guidebook, as we move forward. School principals and Division staff will work with families who have specific questions about school re-entry.
IB and AP Exams
IB and AP exams will continue to be administered in May 2021. IB and AP courses will be offered according to when it is possible based on school staffing and scheduling requirements. Some considerations may be off-schedule times (lunch, after class). Teachers who teach an AP or IB course will have certain courses scheduled in certain quarters that each school will communicate to AP and IB students. Teachers will follow up off-schedule to work with students to be prepared for exams in May.
St. Gabriel Education Centre
At its regular Board Meeting on Aug. 31, 2020, our board resolved to rename St. Gabriel Catholic High School to St. Gabriel Education Centre, which coordinates our newly established K-9 online learning pathway. At this centre, high school students who may need greater flexibility than a quarterly schedule provides will choose to take their courses in quarters, semesters, or as a full-year program, based on conversations with teachers and the acting school principal. Students will have access to diploma exams every quarter.
Physical Education, extracurricular activities, and athletics
Schools will continue to provide physical education instruction. The province’s plan indicates that delivery of programming outside is most desirable, and activities that support physical distancing, such as badminton, are recommended. Schools will evaluate whether they can offer extracurricular activities that follow COVID-19 protocols, and let families know which activities are available.
Extracurricular activities and athletics requiring mingling of students between cohorts and/or close contact will be suspended until further notice. The introduction of any extracurricular or athletic activities will be coordinated by the Division as a whole and will be in compliance with any current guidance from Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA), as applicable. as applicable. Please contact your high school principal to ask about specific information regarding high school athletics as these programs will be updated as health protocols emerge.
Sports and Recreation Academies
If your child is registered in Sports Academy (Hockey, Soccer, Gym/Cheer/Dance, or Recreation), he/she will participate in these programs with modified programming that meets safety measures of the guidelines of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Alberta Health at the respective school sites. Off-site activities will not run until Oct. 1, 2020. If your child is in a High School Academy, or if you have an interest in registering for Sports/Recreation Academy, please contact Geoff Giacobbo, Sports Academy Consultant.
Activities that involve the sharing of food between students are suspended until further notice. Classes that teach food preparation may occur as long as students do not share the food they prepare with other students or staff.
For lunches and snacks:
- No Skip-the Dishes or food services (e.g., hot lunches) will be available in schools.
- Food provided by the family should be stored with the student’s belongings.
- Students/children should practice physical distancing while eating.
- There should be no common food items (e.g., salt and pepper shakers, ketchup).
- If families forget to send lunch, you will need to contact the office to arrange to drop off the lunch as opposed to walking through the school to the student’s classroom.
Please help by discussing these measures with your child(ren) before the start of school.
Field trips that require students to ride a bus are currently postponed, in keeping with provincial guidelines. The status of such field trips will be reviewed as provincial guidelines continue to evolve. All international, provincial, and local field trips that require travel are suspended but will be reviewed as chief medical officers of health adjust recommendations about traveling between provinces (learn more about Alberta’s COVID-19 travel restrictions). Virtual field trips, in-class/classroom field trips, and physically-distanced community walking trips that follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols are permitted.
Assemblies and special events
Gatherings that bring multiple cohorts of students together are not permitted at this time. This includes such things as performances, book fairs, guest speakers, school dances, in-person meet-the-teacher events and group fundraisers like bike-a-thons. Virtual assemblies may be held within the school community. This year’s READ IN Week event will be limited to school staff reading with students and virtual guest readers.
School council meetings
School council meetings for the 2020–2021 school year may go ahead as long as they meet Alberta Health restrictions for social gatherings as well as the safety protocols and expectations of the Chief Medical Officer and Division health guidelines. School principals will support their school council members to determine if they will hold in-person meetings and/or online virtual meetings. Any in-person meeting must adhere to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Schools will decide if they will use the learning commons or school library space as instructional space. Schools that decide to use this space for instruction must follow COVID-19 strategies that support physical distancing. These spaces will be cleaned and disinfected between each cohort of students. If the libraries/learning commons are used to share resources, a protocol will be reviewed to loan materials that will be in keeping with COVID-19 health measures.
Supporting mental health and well-being
In our Division, we provide all students with access to school counselors. Please contact your school principal if your child experiences signs of mental duress or requires proactive support to have a successful schooling experience. In addition, parents/legal guardians who are concerned for their child(ren)’s well-being can reach out to these community resources:
- Kids Help Phone
Text CONNECT to 68686
- Alberta Health Services
> Mental Health Helpline – 1.877.303.2642
This toll-free helpline provides confidential and anonymous services, crisis
intervention, information about mental health services, and referrals to other
> Help in Tough Times
> Healthy Together
- Health Link
- Alberta Education Help-line and email service
> 780.422.6548 (toll-free: 310.0000, followed by the nine-digit phone number)
> Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This service provides support to parents/legal guardians of students, particularly those requiring specialize supports, during COVID-19 and at-home learning.
8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
- Hope for Wellness Help Line
> online chat (in English and French)
available 24 hours a day, seven days a week offers immediate help to all
Indigenous peoples across Canada.