Division News Article

Pembina Hills Schools will resume under Scenario 1

July 21st, 2020

On July 21, 2020 the Minister of Education announced that schools will be resuming under the conditions of Scenario 1; In-school classes resume (near normal with health measures)”.  

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we operationalize health measures in our schools. Like the province we seek to:

  1. Prevent the spread of illness
  2. Respond quickly and efficiently if needed
  3. Communicate effectively

Our schools’ re-entry plans balance the measures needed to control virus spread and our students’ need for healthy interactions. All plans follow the guidance provided by the government. Getting the right balance will probably need some fine-tuning.

Our strategies focus on Procedures, Habits and Communication, with student and staff safety at the centre.

Examples of Procedures include: cleaning, disinfecting, managing the movement of students, grouping students, seating plans and so on.

  • We rely on parents, staff and students to follow the new procedures

Examples of Habits include: personal hygiene, physical distancing, and respect for other peoples’ health.

  • We rely on parents, staff and students to learn new habits
  • The daily health check expected of every parent, student and staff member is the most critical new habit.  

Communication must be two-way.

  • The division and our schools commit to communicating information efficiently.  
  • We ask parents to play their part by keeping schools informed about student absences.

A summary of the strategies follows.  The specifics about how a school will follow through will be unique from school to school.

*NOTE*  Information regarding Transportation of Students has been provided in a separate news update: Busing information for re-entry this fall

Daily Screening for Illness – ALL Students, Parents and Staff

  • All parents will be expected to use the  Daily Health Check each day prior to sending their children to school. Do not send your child to school if they are sick.    
  • https://bit.ly/DailyHealthCheckPHSD
  • Please contact the school to inform them of any absences. 
  • *Note* – watch for information about the SchoolMessenger application that will provide parents and guardians with the ability to notify the school using your digital devices.  All Pembina Hills staff must use the Daily Health Check as well. 
  • Anyone who is sick will not be allowed at school.  
  • It is important for us to know if your children have pre-existing conditions such as allergies that are similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. 
    • We consider this baseline information. 
    • If baseline conditions were to change, or appear without the usual triggers, the students should remain at home until they are symptom free, and have a negative test result for COVID-19. 
  • Be prepared to provide information to the school regarding your children’s health.

Social - Emotional Health and Mental Well-Being
  • Our teachers and support staff help your children learn and grow together. 
  • When students require support for their mental well-being, our staff will guide students to support services within the school or division. 
  • We commit to working together with you to help students manage the emotions and stresses caused by this and other situations. 
  • Please call if you have concerns about your children’s mental well-being. 
School Cleaning
  • The Pembina Hills Plant and Operations Facilities department has increased cleaning of all school facilities. 
  • Increased cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas and equipment inside and outside of classrooms, in washrooms and in all auxiliary spaces will continue.
Hygiene Etiquette: Handwashing, Coughing and Sneezing
  • Students will be asked to wash their hands frequently.  
  • Washing hands often with soap and water is expected, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before and after eating or preparing food.  
  • Staff and students who need to cough or sneeze will use their elbow or a tissue, and then throw out the tissue if used and wash their hands afterwards.
  • Students are to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth and avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. 
Student Belongings and School Supplies
  • Parents and students need to get used to a “No Sharing” policy. 
  • Your teachers will provide students with instructions as to how student belongings (back-packs, jackets, etc.) will be stored.
Lunches, Snacks and Food Services
  • Please provide your children with lunches that minimize the use of communal microwaves. 
  • Again, a “No Sharing” policy will be expected. 
  • Schools with food services will follow Alberta government guidance for food services.
    • Students will learn new processes and habits related to food services.
The Cohort strategy
  • One health measure that helps in this situation is cohorting. 
    • A cohort is basically a group with something in common. 
    • In this case, the cohort is the group of students (and staff) with whom your child will interact each day. 
  • The cohort strategy is useful in two ways:
  1. Cohorting is used to support physical distancing to reduce spread. Our goal is to reasonably limit the size (number of people) in a group, and the degree of interaction between groups.
  2. Cohorting helps make contact tracing more efficient, if required. An accurate record of the people in a cohort will be very helpful if we need to support Alberta Health with contact tracing. Seating plans on the bus and in the classrooms, and various restrictions to movement in common areas are related to the cohorting health measure.  
  • We will be expecting compliance from students.  
  • Anything parents and guardians can do to help children understand the reasons for these ‘rules’ will help the school remain as safe as possible. 
Physical Distancing during Drop-off and Pick-up, Being outside the School, Entering the School
  • One of the main strategies of preventing the spread is limiting contact between people.  
  • Parents who chose to drop-off their children are encouraged do so; however, we ask that you remain in your vehicles.
  • There may be increased traffic in drop off and pick up lanes. Please follow the signs and be patient so everyone remains safe in the parking lots and drop off areas.
  • All visitors and parents who enter the school must check in at the office. Everyone is expected to self-screen before entering.
Physical Distancing in the Hallways
  • Like many businesses and retail stores, the floors in our schools have been marked to show the direction of traffic flow. 
Physical Distancing during Recesses, Lunch Breaks and Transitions
  • The staff at each of our schools have been making plans to limit physical distance during the many transitions that occur during the school day. 
  • Specific plans will vary from group to group depending on the need for students to move from place to place.
  • Students in grades that have recess will be allowed to play outside. 
Physical Distancing in the Classroom
  • Since it is often impossible to ensure a 2 metre distance in our classrooms without reducing the number of students, the furniture has been rearranged as best as possible. 
  • Seating plans will be common in every class. 
Physical Distancing when Face-to-Face Interactions are Necessary
  • Division staff who work with our students will use portable physical barriers and or face masks when they need to work closely with students. 
  • They will sanitize and disinfect objects that need to be handled by more than one student.
Facemasks
  • Some staff may choose to wear face masks or shields.  
  • In general, students will not be required to wear facemasks but certainly can if they choose to.  
  • If a child begins to show symptoms during the school day, they will be provided with a facemask while they are in the sick room waiting for their parents to pick them up.
If a Child Becomes Ill During the School Day
  • If children begin to show symptoms that are not related to pre-existing conditions,
    • The school will contact parents/guardians immediately
    • The student will be provided with a mask and isolated in our sick room until you pick them up
  • Parents/guardians must be able to pick-up their children if they become symptomatic
  • We will work closely with you should this need arise. 
Communications
  • We will continue to post news and updates on the division website: https://www.pembinahills.ca/ 
    • under the tab Schools and Programs →  COVID-19 Information
  • Subscribe to news updates at https://www.pembinahills.ca/subscribe/
  • Follow us on the Pembina Hills Facebook page 
  • In the fall, Pembina Hills will be rolling out the SchoolMessenger application. 
    • SchoolMessenger is a means by which we can reach out directly to parents of a class group, a school group or the entire division.