Frequently Asked Questions

WCPS School Re-Entry Virtual Town Hall

On Monday, August 17, 2020 Wolf Creek Public Schools hosted a Virtual Town Hall in order to answer questions submitted by parents and students regarding COVID-19 procedures, protocols and safeguards, as well as the District and School Re-Entry Plans for the 2020-21 School Year. 

The Town Hall was hosted and streamed live on YouTube. Please watch the video of the Town Hall below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Symptoms/ COVID-19 and Isolation

Does everyone in the class need to be quarantined if there is one symptomatic child/staff/visitor/volunteer?

No, everyone in the class does not need to be quarantined. If a child/staff/visitor/volunteer has one of the core symptoms of fever, cough (new cough or worsening chronic cough), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (new or worsening), runny nose or sore throat, they must stay home and isolate for 10 days. If they have any other symptoms of illness, they should stay home until their symptoms resolve. Any individual with symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested as soon as possible, which can be arranged through the AHS online self-assessment tool. Contacts of someone who IS NOT a case of COVID-19 are not required to isolate or quarantine. 

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a class, who will have to self isolate?

Alberta Health Services will take the lead on any such measures in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. The guide (WCPS COVID-19 CASES IN SCHOOLS) summarizes the practices, procedures, roles and expectations in the event of cases of COVID-19 in a school.

In regards to infrared thermometers. Is it acceptable to test temperatures at an alternative spot on the body (ie. wrist or crook of elbow) as opposed to the forehead.

Temperature checks will not be daily; they are intended to help manage symptoms for those students or staff who present with symptoms at school or become ill at school. Because of that it is not expected that temperatures will be taken often per student or staff member. We can consult Alberta Health Services and the manufacturer recommendations about the effectiveness of taking temperatures on the wrist or elbow. 

How long does a student have to stay home if they are sick?

It is advised that any individual with symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested, which can be arranged through the AHS online self-assessment tool. We would advise a student or staff member should stay home until they are clear of any known exposure to or symptoms of COVID-19. Please use the following guide to help assist when a student may return to school.

COVID-19 Stay at Home Guide

If a child has a symptom of COVID-19 before going to school, do all children in the family need to be kept home? For how long?

No. If a child develops symptoms at home, and the other children in the family do not have symptoms, the symptomatic child would only stay home. However, if it is confirmed that the child has COVID-19, Alberta Health Services (AHS) will be advising the family on the Alberta Government's isolation requirements. 

If a child develops a symptom of COVID-19 at school and is isolated waiting to go home, do the child’s siblings need to isolate too?

No. Only students who exhibit symptoms will be required to move to isolation, with parents contacted to pick up. 

Is there provincial or federal assistance for paid leave (and job protection) from work while caring for a symptomatic minor family member?

In Wolf Creek Public Schools, our employees have access to some paid leave days for this purpose (eg. Family Needs Leave, and a paid personal leave day). Staff needing time away that exceeds these paid allocations, can request a leave of absence from their position to stay home with a child or family member. This is job-protected, unpaid leave. There are opportunities available for certain employees through Employment Insurance (EI) that some employees may qualify for. 

In regards to COVID-19 and pre-existing conditions such as asthma, would a COVID-19 test be required each time allergies flare up?

We encourage all parents with children with pre-existing conditions to provide a medical note with details on what the school can expect with symptoms. Please speak with your child’s teacher regarding the specific environmental changes or adaptations required to ensure symptoms are managed and recognized. AHS also advises a COVID-19 for students with pre-existing conditions to establish a baseline for the student.

What can be done to help accommodate single or low income families who have to work and can’t send keep children home?

We acknowledge this might be a challenge for families. We would advise all families, regardless of socioeconomic status, to seek alternative arrangements right away to plan for a scenario where a child must remain at home due to symptoms.

If a student has a runny nose, but receives a negative COVID-19 test, can they return to school? 

Staff will use reasoned professional judgement on symptoms such as a runny nose to determine whether it is due to a student recently running outside in the cold or if it is a prolonged symptom. Symptoms outlined by the Alberta Government will require the 10 day isolation period as outlined by the Alberta Government's Isolation Requirements.

Please use the following guide to help assist when a student may return to school.

COVID-19 Stay at Home Guide

If a student is required to self-isolate at home, teachers will be providing learning material and working with students through any required 10-day isolation. Beyond 10 days the Virtual Learning Program can be made available to students who require extended periods of time away from school. 

Will parents be informed if there is COVID-19 case in school?

Alberta Health Services will direct on the communication and measures in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 case in schools.

How do French Immersion children do Virtual Learning?, or Virtual Learning through courses like mechanics where high school students need the credits for graduation. 

The virtual learning program will have limitations for programs such as French Immersion or courses that require specialized equipment or facilities. We would propose careful consideration be made in how to plan for these courses at a time when a student can return to regular, in-school classes. 

If a staff member becomes ill, will you have subs coming from the local area or from outside the school division?

There are currently no restrictions on the number of schools a substitute teacher can work in. It’s important that we ensure the maximum number of substitute teachers are available for the maximum number of absences. All substitute teachers will be provided with information on safety protocols and expectations for our WCPS schools. All efforts will be made to ensure that we have consistent subs in place in the event a teacher’s absence spans multiple days. There may be some instances where this is not possible, but schools will work with the division to provide consistency for students. 

What if my child has symptoms related to allergies or a pre-existing medical condition?

• The student should be tested at least once before returning to school and have a negative COVID-19 test result.

• These symptoms would be their baseline health status. As long as the cough or runny nose is always the same and does not get worse, the student can attend school.

• Talk to your school about your child’s pre-existing medical condition so the school may keep a confidential record of this condition.

Ventilation in some schools is an issue, such as with aging windows, is this going to be addressed before classes resume?

Our Facilities staff has conducted a thorough inspection and cleaning of all school ventilation systems. Our Facilities staff is addressing many health and safety issues in our buildings including replacing windows, etc. 

What is the plan/ current recommendation from Alberta Health Services (AHS) for when one child from one bus is confirmed to have COVID-19, given the amount of students that may have been in contact?

In cases where a case of COVID-19 is identified, AHS will guide and direct the school and district around contact tracing, communication, testing, etc. We expect additional details on this process in the coming days. 

How many confirmed cases in a single school will result in closure of the school?

Any one confirmed case will result in an investigation by Alberta Health Services Public Health. It is likely with a single case that exposure is limited to a single class or group. Closures of specific classes, cohorts or schools may occur dependent on the outcome of an investigation. Public health measures for outbreak management are at the discretion of the Zone Medical Officer of Health (MOH); decisions on the need for alternate instructional delivery plans or school closures will be made by the Government in conjunction with local officials.

Virtual Learning

If we opt for "Virtual Learning'', can we switch to the "In-Person" option at any point within the school year?

The virtual learning option is meant to help families who may not be ready to return to in-person at this time, but is a flexible option. Schools will allow and accommodate students who want to return to in-person learning at any time throughout the school year. 

What is the teacher's involvement with virtual learning?

The district hired two full-time teachers in June and over the summer they have been working to develop the virtual learning program. The survey sent out to parents on which education program they are choosing for their student(s) will determine, by school, the possible numbers for in-person/regular school programming, virtual programming, and homeschooling. The data will be reviewed the week of August 17-21 and further planning will take place in relation to the teaching assignments and how the district and schools will support all students. At this time teachers are assigned to their regular classrooms to provide in-person instruction. The virtual learning program is primarily supported and facilitated by the parents with guidance and resources from the district staff. 

If we decide to keep our special needs child home for online learning will we receive any EA support? Will students who have had such support still receive an EA upon re-entry to school.

The decision around providing EA support should a family choose the online learning option will be discussed as part of the intake process for the virtual learning program.  Each student’s needs are unique and schools have made local decisions about the allocation of their EA time, so part of the intake conversation for students with special needs will address this question.  Regardless of families’ choices (in-school or virtual learning program), each school’s EA allocations were set in the spring based on student needs at that time and these will not be changed unless there are unforeseen circumstances.

Is it possible for a teacher to live stream the class so that if a student is required to be home they can still partake in the class discussions.

The Scenario 1 guidelines announced from the Alberta government requires teachers to provide instruction to students in their regular classroom. Streaming instruction is not technically or logistically possible so the Virtual Learning Program was created to support student learning at home until such time as they are ready to return to school. 

How is funding impacted by registering for Virtual Learning or homeschooling?

If a student is registered in the Virtual Learning program, they will be registered in their local Wolf Creek school and funding will not change for the school district. If a family registers with a homeschooling organization, the funding leaves the school district. 

Is there a plan to potentially reallocate WCPS teachers from classroom to virtual learning assignments to support the (2) two staff that were hired earlier by WCPS to oversee the virtual program? Or do parents need to plan to be the main resource for the students, even in high school level courses?

The district is currently reviewing the parent survey data to determine how many parents are requesting the Virtual Learning Program option. Parents will be required to discuss their child’s learning needs and considerations with the school during the early part of the school year to determine if the Virtual Learning Program is, in fact, the best option. Additional staff and resources will be considered at that time. 

Can my child do most of their core classes at home and just attend the school for their CTS class.

In a situation where there is a request for a blended program as outlined in the question, please start those conversations with your local school administration. WCPS has a Virtual Learning Program that is well resourced. 

How will the curriculum and what is assigned each week for virtual learning align with in-school learning, in case a student switches?

We are seeking a number of resources to develop a plan to ensure teachers can align their teaching of specific content in such a way that if a student either leaves or joins a class, at any time throughout the year, there will be a smooth transition. 

Are there any restrictions as to starting in-class and bridging to virtual learning if needed?

WCPS has a flexible model regarding virtual learning. There is an application process, and notice and time will be required to facilitate a change. 

In School Learning and Daily Measures

Can I drop off and pick up other children from school, if I have made those arrangements with the other parents?  Is there a release form parents need to fill out for these arrangements? 

You can make those arrangements with other families. AHS would advise that you limit that to cohort families that you have been associating with. There is no release needed, but the same drop off and pick up procedures that will be outlined by your school and the Wolf Creek District Re-Entry Plan would apply. That would include remaining in your car for drop off and pick up, and not being in the drop off/pick up area if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

What will Pre-K and Kindergarten look like with COVID-19 restrictions? Will there be circle time, shared toys, sing along etc.?

A handbook with specific guidelines for our Bright Futures Play Academy will be developed and shared to guide our Pre-K classroom routines and safety protocols. Each school with a kindergarten program will also use the district guidelines to create specific guidelines for classrooms where there will be unique needs. 

Will there be high school sports this year? 

The Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) just released detailed guidelines for a safe return to school sports on August 14. The decision to run school sports rests with the superintendent after consulting with the school principal. Those guidelines, and a survey, have been sent to every WCPS principal to determine if they will apply to the superintendent to offer sports. Each school will submit a plan on how they will ensure safety guidelines will be met. A firm decision, school by school, will be made by August 31 regarding school sports. 

Can kids sing O’Canada at school, will singing be allowed?

No, students will not be able to sing O’Canada as per the guidelines which states, “In-person singing, cheering or shouting or playing wind instruments should be postponed at this time”. 

 What are students supposed to do if they don’t have access to lockers?

Locker use will be outlined in each individual school-based re-entry plan. 

 Will there be mental health supports for students and staff? 

Mental Health supports will be part of the re-entry process as supported by the School Social Workers (SSWs) in all WCPS schools. Specific resources, including teacher lessons, videos, assessments to determine student needs, will be provided to all school staff. Resources have been provided to school administrators and teachers to support them with the social/emotional/behavioural side of re-entry including a focus on rebuilding relationships, trauma-informed practices, and mental health supports. Our district website has an excellent bank of resources to assist parents, staff and students. 

https://www.wolfcreek.ab.ca/covid-19/resources-for-parents

Will students have to write Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs)?

No. Alberta Education is allowing each school district to decide on PATs and based on survey data gathered from each WCPS school that has PAT grades, the district decided not to have students write PATs this year. 

Who will oversee and monitor the adherence of children to the regulations on the school bus?

The driver will need the full cooperation of all students, and parents, to adhere to the safety protocols on the bus. Additional measures like taking extra time at stops to review expectations and monitor students (ie. mask wearing) will be part of the new routine. 

What is outlined in the “Riding a Bus Responsibility Card”?

This card will outline expectations for students, parents and the driver to ensure safety is maintained. This card has been modified to include specific guidelines under the district re-entry plan. 

How is it possible for children to maintain physical distancing while playing at recess?

Each WCPS school is developing plans to ensure adequate supervision and monitoring is in place on the playground, in addition to ongoing instruction to students on how best to attempt to maintain physical distancing. If students cannot maintain physical distancing on the playground, they will be required to wear a mask. 

Are there any plans for additional busing to help with physical distancing on the bus?

No. The current guidelines from Alberta Education support masking, maintaining family cohorts, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, and if possible, physically distancing students on the bus if possible. 

How will the school be responsible for assuring that the child is picked up by the correct adult if we've been instructed to remain in our vehicles?

Parents will need to stay close to their vehicle when picking up their child but we recognize they will also need to provide clear instructions to their child to ensure they know where to go when they leave the school. Schools will also ensure supervision and assistance will be provided at pick-up times to ensure students will depart safely from the school. 

Are students required to bring their own chromebooks? Is there an affordable program in which to purchase them?

Students can bring their own device to school understanding they cannot share it with other students. Wolf Creek has a Chromebook Parent Purchase Program that supports parents with purchasing and financing this learning tool. 

https://www.wolfcreek.ab.ca/parents/chromebook-parent-purchase-program

Looking at my child’s school supply list this year and the COVID-19 policy about all items that come to school in the morning have to go in a backpack and leave with the child at the end of school day. Will these lists be changing or are these kids actually supposed to carry all this weight everyday?

Each school will plan for how best to manage the materials students will bring into the classroom and school to ensure this remains manageable. 

If social distancing can’t be achieved in the classroom are students expected to wear a mask in the classroom?

Students in grades 4-12 will be required to wear a mask throughout most of the day, which will be a challenge. We recognize staff and students will be adapting to this new reality and it will require patience and understanding all around. 

What kind of mask can be worn?

Based on Alberta Health's Guidelines for making or buying a cloth mask should be:
A type of fabric or cloth 

  • Use multiple layers of tight woven fabric – 4 layers is optimal. 
  • Use a combination of fabrics such as a high thread count cotton (e.g. 600-thread count pillowcases and cotton sheets) with spunbond polyproplylene or polyester. 
  • If possible, use different fabrics or colours for each side of the mask. This helps you to know which side faces your mouth and which side faces out. 
  • Choose a fabric or cloth that can withstand frequent cycles through washing and drying machines  

Keep in mind that you should verify that the mask should have multiple layers of fabric, fit securely
against your face, allow for clear breathing and have the ability to be laundered. 

There are many resources regarding proper masks available from the Government of Alberta at the following links: COVID-19: Masks
GUIDANCE FOR WEARING OF NON-MEDICAL FACE MASKS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
COVID-19: Choosing the right non-medical mask for wearing in public

Can you define cohorts?

We understand cohorts to represent a group of students who remain together for an extended period of time during the school day. Students will be cohorted as much as possible with limited mixing of cohorts as much as possible. If a student interacts with friends outside of the school that will not be monitored or considered in the school setting. 

Are parents allowed to come to the school? Why is it by appointment only?

Due to the possibility of COVID-19 transmission, the school must limit the number of individuals in the school. A screening questionnaire must be completed by every parent or visitor who enters the school so by having appointments and a schedule, the school staff will be able to manage the flow of people in the school. 

Will students be required to wear masks in gym class and during recess?

The Scenario 1 guidelines state that if students cannot maintain (2) two metres of physical distancing they will be required to wear a mask. Teachers will determine the individual circumstances in their classes to advise on mask wearing. 

What does enhanced cleaning mean at schools? 

The district has created a customized schedule of tasks for all custodians to ensure schools will maintain a regular schedule of cleaning and sanitization. In most cases, this cleaning schedule will be completed throughout the day with after morning recess/break, after lunch, and after school. The district has also shifted custodian schedules so they are available during the day while adding additional custodian time in schools. There will be hand sanitizer stations at each designated entrance/exit, hand sanitizer in every classroom and teachers will establish hand washing routines in the classroom if a sink is available. 

Why are students allowed to leave the school for lunch? Is that not a risk for transmission in the community?

The decision for a school to be an open or closed campus is to be determined for high school students based on the unique circumstances of each community and school. Additionally, for our larger high schools it will be virtually impossible to manage all students in the school over the lunch break due to the need for students to access washroom facilities. 

Is not allowing parents to bring their young children into the school not a safety concern for students in Kindergarten?

Our staff will create a plan to ensure all younger students will be met and supported into the school. This will include enhanced supervision and meeting students in locations that support safe drop-off and pick-up procedures. 

How will the teacher and my friends hear me with a mask on?

We recognize that speaking with a mask on may be a challenge, but our teachers will work with students to ensure they are communicating well and can be heard.

Can I still play tag and grounders at recess or will I be in trouble?

We know children coming back to school have not seen many of their friends since March, and we know they will be excited and want to resume play. Schools will be working with students to help guide them so it is clear what they can do and what’s appropriate while maintaining safety on the playground.     

Will music be taught within the classrooms as opposed to going to the music room?

How music is delivered will be addressed on a school specific basis in the individual school re-entry plans that will be shared with parents the week of August 24. 

Will any homework or school supplies be coming home during school or will everything remain in the classroom once it is there?

With revisions to guidelines on locker use, this can help with the many items students have to bring back and forth to school. Teachers will be working with students in this regard to maintain the integrity of the classroom and the school. If materials are needed to go home that may be in the form of an electronic version.  

Can you clarify mandatory masks to be worn by grades 4-12? Do they have to be worn all the time in class?

With mandatory masking required for grades 4-12 it is mandatory when physical distancing is not possible. That may and in many cases will also include classrooms with larger numbers of students. If physical space of (2) two metres can be maintained in classrooms then masks could be removed in those circumstances. All students will be required to wear masks on the bus. 

Additional Questions 

I completed the parent survey sent to parents on August 11, 2020, and I believe I am registered. Do I have to do anything else?

The parent survey does not replace the registration form. An email will be going out to parents the week of Aug. 17 to 21 that will provide instructions on updating your demographic information used for registration in your Parent Portal on Powerschool. If you have any trouble, you can contact your school for assistance. Please know that if registering for virtual learning, you will still register with your school first before contacting them about your delivery method (in-person, or virtual). 

What will it take for procedures to go back to normal?

The Alberta Government, with advice from the Chief Medical Officer, will determine any changes to the current guidelines and requirements for all school districts. The Alberta Government has listed a number of conditions for moving from stage 2 to 3. The link is below:

 https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-relaunch-strategy.aspx

Has there been any consideration about additional space to be found so class sizes could be smaller?

No, not at this point as all resources (ie. network, teacher resources, supplies, custodians, etc) are all located in the school site. To move students out of the school into other locations would create far too many barriers to ensuring students and staff have the resources to provide optimal student learning. 

British Columbia delayed the start of school, is there any consideration of the same here? Can school divisions make that decision?

No, school divisions cannot change the start of school as per the Alberta Government guidelines. WCPS is creating a staggered entry plan, as determined by each school, to ensure four days are available (Sept 1-4) to allow students and staff to enter the new school year in a less congested environment while reviewing safety protocols. 

Why are we not using staggered scheduling? In-school part of the week and virtual for the other days. 

On July 21, the Alberta government announced all Alberta students will return to school under Scenario 1, which is near-normal daily operations with health measures. Scenario 2 is a blend of in-school and virtual instruction. School districts cannot move to a different scenario unless directed by the Alberta Government. 

What is needed for a parent or visitor to come to a school?

There is a requirement for all visitors and parents to call the school first. The school administrative assistant, or another staff member, will assist. 

Were any parents who have membership on the parent councils in the division engaged in the development of the guidelines?

No, parents were not involved in the development of the guidelines. 

Is there something we as parents can do to make adjustment to the new protocols as easy as possible for school and division staff?

The best support for our staff is for our parents to ensure they are playing their part on supporting the guidelines, including monitoring for symptoms with the daily screening questionnaire, communicating with the school regularly, and most importantly, being patient and understanding as we all work together to ensure our students, staff, parents and community members remain safe and healthy. 

How do smaller schools compare to larger ones in regards to funding for safety and health protocols?

All schools will receive similar financial support and resources to address the requirements of the school re-entry plan and guidelines. Larger schools will require additional equipment and resources due to the scale and scope of students, staff and physical layout. 

I am wondering if there are exceptions to wearing masks at school, if the child has a reaction such as a rash to face coverings?

The requirement for masks states that it is mandatory for grades 4 to 12, and optional for pre-K to Grade 3. Please seek different kinds of masks for one that may be suitable. If an accommodation is needed, please provide a medical reason and documentation from your family physician outlining the details needed for the exemption to be considered. 

My husband is a long-haul truck driver who crosses the Canada-US border all the time. When he comes home, am I going to have to keep my son home from school for the 14 days? 

Although the individual who has been across the border will have to self-isolate based on Alberta Government requirements, unless symptomatic the child will not be required to self-isolate.