At the August 19th, 2021 Special Board Meeting, the PHSD Board of Trustees approved a motion that directs school and system administration to align health measures related to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses to guidelines as prescribed by the Government of Alberta.
The Pembina Hills School Division will not be applying restrictions beyond those put in place by Alberta Health and Alberta Education.
At their August 13, 2021 news conference, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and CMOH Deena Hinshaw provided information regarding COVID-19 restrictions as they relate to the upcoming school year. They stressed that regular in-class and extracurricular activities will resume in the new school year and that consistent with the extended timelines for easing COVID-19 measures, the following actions will continue:
- Students and staff should screen daily for symptoms
- Isolation if students or staff have core symptoms or test positive, and
- Follow best practices to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
- ‘Best practices’ that will continue include the use of air exchange units and enhanced cleaning routines. Where and when possible, doors and windows can be opened to increase air flow.
- Students and staff will continue to practice and teach good hygiene including regular hand cleaning, coughing into elbow etc.
In addition, the province has stipulated that face masks are required to be worn by drivers and all passengers on school buses, but are optional in other settings.
- Note that the ‘masks on school buses’ rule applies to all riders above age 2. This is a change from previous masking rules that exempted students in kindergarten to grade three from wearing masks.
- To be clear, all passengers on school buses must wear masks. Exceptions are described in CMOH Order 34-2021, available here: COVID-19 orders and legislation
Of course, PHSD will support and respect the choice of students, staff and visitors to wear masks in school settings.
According to Ministry of Health communications, “school authorities continue to have the ability and the corresponding accountability to put in place local measures, such as physical distancing, cohorting, and masking requirements that may exceed provincial guidance.”
The Board acknowledges the variety of opinions regarding COVID-19 present in our communities. For the past 18 months, PHSD has relied on the expertise of the Ministry of Health and has adhered to all provincial requirements and health orders regarding COVID-19. Also, PHSD trustees and administrators are not trained or qualified to establish public health measures beyond those defined by public health experts. Therefore we will continue to follow the guidance from the Ministries of Health and Education.
For more information regarding daily screening, isolation requirements and more please see the Parents’ guide 2021-22 school year.
Additional information regarding the start of school, including recently announced school vaccination programs, will be distributed prior to classes starting on August 31, 2021.