Division News Article

Re-entry poll results

September 29th, 2020

On Friday September 25th, Pembina Hills School Division sent out a second poll seeking parents’ opinions and ideas about the division’s re-entry plans. The first poll was sent on August 21st.

By Monday, September 28th roughly 640 responses had been collected. By Tuesday that number climbed to 660. While this is a lower number than we received from the August poll, the data represents a large sample of Pembina Hills families. Thank you for your participation and comments.

The first seven questions asked participants to rate their level of confidence with certain parts of the re-entry plan. The level of confidence increased an average of 9 points. Parents indicated that their children’s confidence with the return to school increased 15 points. See the question data in these documents:


In the comments, survey respondents expressed their appreciation for:

  • The staggered start-up for the first days back
  • All the cleaning being done at the schools
  • The dedication and hard work of the staff
  • Being able to confidently send their kids to school, knowing they’ll be safe
  • The experience with clear and frequent communication

In August the common concerns were about:

  • Staff and student readiness
  • Trust in others to be honest in the daily checks
  • Ability of students to understand the new rules
  • Schools’ ability to manage so many children in the spaces available

In September concerns have shifted to:

  • The symptoms that are similar to the common cold and having to remain home for 10 days and be tested for COVID-19
  • Frustration with the runny nose symptom
  • The impact of absenteeism on student progress

While most comments referenced the above topics and indicated overall satisfaction with the situation, we also received comments on the following topics, along with polarized opinions:

  • When, where and how to wear masks
  • Applying the cohorting strategy

What’s next?

We will be sure that our school staff hear the messages of appreciation expressed in the survey. Thank you for the kind words.

The level of concern expressed in the August poll that other families might not adhere to the expectations has significantly declined. Clearly the increased absenteeism is evidence of people complying with the expectations, however inconvenient they may be.

We empathize with the frustrations regarding the listed symptoms. Everyone knows and understands the benefits of regular attendance and our staff are just as concerned as parents when students must be absent. Absenteeism adds extra work for teachers who must prepare and present lessons. It also increases pressures at home as families face the challenge of balancing child care and jobs. The Daily Health Check, like all of the other health measures, is a condition of ‘Scenario One’ defined in the province’s school re-entry plan.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has provided us with updated information in this regard: 10% Absenteeism in Schools. Our schools continue to be in regular contact with AHS regarding our attendance rates. The division will also share the results of this poll with AHS so that they can be aware of the impact on learning, on students and on families.

Communication Tools

We are continuing to implement the SchoolMessenger service in all of our schools. Hundreds of parents and guardians have opted-in to allow the school or division to to contact them by text message. It will be an extremely useful method to communicate information to parents quickly and efficiently.

If you haven’t already signed up for text notifications and want to, text Y or YES to 978338. You must also contact your child’s school office to make sure they have your cell number on file. SchoolMessenger will only work if your cell number is on file with your child’s school.

Appreciation for the Support Staff

When most people think of school staff, we think of teachers, program assistants and school office staff. . We also want to recognize the diligence and commitment of our bus drivers, facilities and maintenance supports, technology supports, and custodial staff. Every member of the Pembina Hills team plays a role in the successful learning journey of our students. Please give your thanks to them as well.

Thanks again for participating in the poll.