How Edmonton Public Schools plan to restart in the fall
EDMONTON -- Edmonton Public Schools have developed a re-entry strategy to keep students safe once they go back to the classroom in September amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 21, Alberta Education said students would return to classrooms across the province at near-normal operations, and on Tuesday, the province announced its decision that students in Grades 4 to 12 would have to wear masks in school common areas and busses.
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Edmonton Public Schools' plan, titled COVID-19 Division Re-entry Strategy 2020-2021, outlines several health and safety measures but ultimately lets families decide how they want their children to learn in the upcoming school year.
Families and students who want to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and continue to learn online during the 2020-2021 school year can do so at Edmonton Public Schools.
The district will break up the upcoming school year into four quarters: Sept. 3 to Nov. 10, Nov. 16 to Jan. 29, Feb. 1 to April 20 and April 21 to June 29.
Each school will reach out to families in mid-August, and then three weeks before each quarter, to learn if students will return to the classroom or learn from home.
"We recognize that returning to in-person classes may not be the best option for all students, and families know their children best," said Edmonton Public Schools Superintendent Darrel Robertson.
Students who choose online learning will be assigned to a group and their instructor will be staff who the division says may be unable to return to teach in person.
They will receive live online teacher instruction, be a part of activities and receive homework. Their teachers and online classmates may not be from the same school.
The division says instruction will cover the curriculum's required areas and focus on the core subjects.
In addition, school fees will be adjusted each quarter depending whether children choose to go back to school or learn from home.
For students eager to return to the classroom after months of learning from home, Edmonton Public Schools, with the help of the Alberta government and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, will implement a number of safety strategies to mitigate the risk of getting sick.
Their plan includes guidelines parents and students are used to hearing such as PPE and masks, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, handwashing and sanitizing, screening for illness and cohorts.
Classrooms will be broken down into cohorts in an attempt to reduce close contacts for staff and students and contain an outbreak, should there be one.
The number of students in each cohort will depend on the size of each classroom, Edmonton Public Schools explained.
Before students go to school each day they must complete a questionnaire to ensure they're fit to be in the classroom. It asks students if they have any of 14 symptoms of the coronavirus, whether they have been out of the country in the past two weeks, and more. If they answer "yes" to any of the questions, they are to stay home.
The questionnaire, which does not have to be submitted to the school, will be given to families in late August.
Students who display COVID-19 symptoms in school will be separated from the group, asked to wear a mask and be picked up as soon as possible.
In the event of a positive COVID-19 test at an Edmonton Public School, health officials will identify close contacts, create isolation measures if necessary and provide recommendations.
Edmonton Public Schools emphasized that a positive test does not mean a school will be immediately shut down; however, the cohort in close contact with the positive case will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Parents at the school would be notified of the COVID-19 case even if their child is not in the affected cohort.
ARRIVING AT SCHOOL
So your child is symptom-free and not learning from home. It's time to go to school. What are the steps to follow?
Each student will have an assigned door to enter and exit the school. They will go to their door and wait at a safe physical distance until staff takes them inside.
Some Edmonton Public Schools will have a staggered entry schedule to limit the amount of students going inside all at once.
Once inside, students will required to sanitize or wash their hands. There will be hand sanitizer through the school.
There will be signs across the school to maintain a safe traffic flow and physical distance.
Students will not use lockers for now. Once in the classroom, students will go to their assigned seats within their cohorts and each group will remain together even during lunch and recess.
Similar measures will be used for dismissal, including assigned doors and staggered times.
Parents who drop off and pick up their children will be asked to remain in their vehicles or at least outside the school and to maintain a physical distance to with everyone else.
- Visitors must book an appointment in advance and fill out a COVID-19 visitor log
- Schools will minimize the use of technology in the classroom
- Music instruction will continue but without singing or playing wind instruments
- Physical education will continue, but preferably outside and with physical distancing
- Field trips where students need to take the bus are postponed
- A decision has not been made about 2021 graduations
- Only international students already in Canada and pre-registered will be accommodated