2021/22 Return to School Letter to Parents/ Guardians
Dear Wolf Creek Parents/ Guardians:
I hope you have had a relaxing, safe and healthy summer break. Just like you, we are quickly getting ready for the start of another school year. Following a year of restrictions and safety measures around COVID-19, I wanted to take a moment and share some information on what returning to school looks like this year.
What I can broadly share with you is the highlights of Alberta Education’s 2021-2022 School Year Plan, and some details on measures we are planning specific to Wolf Creek Public Schools to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff.
The Alberta Education 2021-2022 School Year Plan and current Alberta health requirements outline that:
- The school year will begin on a back to normal basis, with mandatory health restrictions lifted.
- Vaccines remain an effective means of protecting Albertans from COVID-19 and anyone eligible to receive a vaccine is encouraged to do so. Currently, Albertans born in 2009 and before are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Anyone sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or any respiratory virus needs to stay home until they are well. COVID-19 testing availability for those with symptoms has been extended by the Alberta Government for six weeks to provide an additional monitoring period during the start of school. During this time, it will remain a legal requirement for those with COVID-19 to stay home for 10 days.
- AHS is no longer identifying or following up with individual close contacts and quarantine for close contacts is no longer legally mandatory. All Albertans, including those who may be told that they are a close contact, are asked to monitor for symptoms and stay home and get tested if they are feeling unwell.
- To monitor your children daily for COVID-19 symptoms, continue to refer to the daily health assessment at: Alberta Health Daily Checklist
- Routine measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses will continue. That includes promoting and facilitating hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick, maintaining ventilation and ensuring regular cleaning and disinfecting of high traffic/touch areas. More information on Alberta Health guidance can be found at: Guidance for Respiratory Illness and Management in Schools.
- AHS will continue to manage outbreaks of respiratory illness in school settings, similar to the management of influenza or influenza-like illness.
- Additional measures may be considered or recommended if a school experiences a COVID-19 outbreak.
- Diploma exams will resume and be mandatory in the 2021-2022 school year.
- Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) will resume as per normal practice in the 2021-2022 school year.
- School authorities can continue to offer extra-curricular activities, and must follow public health measures that may be in place.
- In the event of a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacts the province of Alberta and its ECS to Grade 12 education system, two contingencies will be considered:
○ Scenario 1: In-school classes (near-normal with enhanced health measures)
○ Scenario 2: At-home learning (in-school classes are suspended)
The full Alberta Education 2021-2022 School Year Plan is linked HERE. Alberta Education’s 2021-2022 Parent’s Guide: Information for parents and guardians to prepare for school in September is linked HERE.
What this means for Wolf Creek Public Schools is that school operations, student learning and activities will return to normal, but we remain focused on the concerns of families and vigilant in maintaining schools that are safe and healthy for all.
To that end, I can provide more information regarding our efforts in the following:
Additional health measures
In our schools, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of schools, especially high touch areas will continue. We will continue to promote frequent hand hygiene and good respiratory etiquette. This is an important part of ensuring a healthy school environment.
This past year, face masks were mandated for all students in grades 4 to 12, and were optional for students in K-3. Although face masks are not mandated in schools this year, students and staff are encouraged to wear a mask if they desire to do so. To begin the school year, masks will be mandatory for ALL STUDENTS AND STAFF while riding the school bus, until further notice.
Cohorting will not be required, but may be recommended by Alberta Health for a short period if a school experiences a respiratory illness outbreak.
Expectation for sick students or staff
As you are aware, there is a shift in the monitoring and testing of COVID-19 in Alberta. Regardless of this shift, the practice we all must follow is that anyone sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or any respiratory virus stay home until they are well. Please ensure that you continue to monitor your child each day using the Alberta Health Daily Checklist. Students who have to miss class due to illness will be supported by their teacher. Please make sure you are in contact with your child’s teacher if your child misses class due to illness, or for any other reason.
Notification of a confirmed case in schools
This past year, schools were directly involved with Alberta Health in contact tracing. As provincial testing for COVID-19 is shifting, schools will not be directly involved in notification in regards to a confirmed case of COVID-19. As with any health risk or illness in a school, we will continue to communicate with families around health and safety measures and provide detailed information as needed, such as in the event of an outbreak. More information on these measures can be found in the Guidance for Respiratory Illness and Management in Schools document.
Masks will be required on the bus for all students and staff until further notice. Additionally, Wolf Creek will continue to implement enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures on school buses. This will continue to involve disinfecting school buses, including seats, after each run. Bus drivers will have seating plans for their buses, and will have the ability to change those plans throughout the year as needed.
Mental health, social and specialized supports
Diverse learners throughout Wolf Creek will continue to be supported as in previous school years. Our schools have multiple avenues of support available, that includes supports for students who require mental health and social and emotional support.
As of the start of the school year, school activities, such as performances, field trips, sport competitions and celebratory events such as graduation and class farewells are permitted, but may require enhanced health and safety measures. As the school year continues, these events will be subject to change pending any changes to provincial health orders and requirements.
In Wolf Creek, an online learning program is being maintained for the 2021-2022 school year for those who may require it due to significant medical concerns.
I want to thank you all for the tremendous cooperation and understanding this past school year, and I know we can count on all of you to work with us this year. We understand and respect that there are a range of opinions, emotions and concerns over a new school year with COVID-19 still a factor in our lives. We also know that all of us have a role in ensuring a safe and healthy school year, which again includes staying home when you are sick. Please know, we will continue to monitor the situation in our schools and will work with local health officials to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.
I wish you all a great school year. If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com, or contact your school for school specific information regarding the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Tim De Ruyck,
Wolf Creek Public Schools