This plan is founded on the following four guiding principles that were established by the government in collaboration with education partners.
• The safety of children, students and staff comes first.
• Children and student learning will continue.
• Provincial funding is still flowing to schools.
• School authorities have flexibility to do what is best for their community.
This plan balances the need for provincial direction and standardized approaches in some areas while also providing flexibility and respecting school authority autonomy at the local level.
The Government of Alberta’s 2021-2022 School Year Plan is based upon the recovery phase reflecting a corresponding shift from mandatory health measures to recommended health best practices. Their plan is focused on a normal return to school, with in-class learning for the majority of students.
Although some health and safety protocols are no longer required by the Government of Alberta, Grasslands School Division will continue to implement additional measures and protocols. The health and safety of students and staff remains our top priority. This plan outlines key elements for the resumption of learning. Portions of this plan may need to be modified in accordance with provincial directives and timelines, and/or by Board directive.
On or before September 27, 2021 the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) will update provincial health and safety protocols.
Health and Safety Management
Joint Worksite Health and Safety
The Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee is a group of worker and employer representatives, working together with shared responsibility to identify and solve safety concerns at the work site. Committee members work together to actively improve conditions in the workplace and promote safe work practices. Health and Safety Committees form an important part of the internal responsibility system and help ensure that work site parties are aware of their roles and responsibilities in the workplace.
The Committee also provides support for the three basic rights that all workers have in protecting their health and safety: the Right to Know about hazards in the workplace, the Right to Participate in the health and safety of the workplace, and the Right to Refuse dangerous or unsafe work.
All Grasslands employees are jointly responsible for their own safety and are required to:
Follow applicable legislation;
Participate in any and all COVID-19 and/or related training;
At this time, masks are not mandatory for students, staff and visitors in schools, as per Alberta Health Services guidelines.
All staff and students from Pre-kindergarten to grade 12 must wear a mask while riding on a school bus. Grasslands will continue to follow this directive from the province until further notice. This is being reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health on September 27, 2021.
Exceptions to the mask requirement on school buses are listed in CMOH 34-2021 and can be found here.
Students, staff and visitors may choose to wear masks. This decision will be fully supported and encouraged. Teasing and bullying of a person choosing to wear a mask is not part of a healthy and safe learning environment. If this occurs, we ask that the individual or parent let their teacher, principal or supervisor know immediately.
Grasslands School Division may make masks mandatory for students, staff and visitors in our schools and facilities for a period of time in the event of an outbreak, high levels of community transmission, or upon direction from Alberta Health Services.
This decision may also be on a school by school basis. Students, staff and families will be notified when this is required.
Hand hygiene practices will continue in schools and on buses throughout the school year.
Placement of hand sanitizer in entrances/exits, classroom entrances, high-touch equipment, and other high traffic areas will continue this year.
Before leaving home, staff, children/students, substitute teachers, visitors, and volunteers who will access the school for work or education, must self-screen for symptoms each day that they enter the school.
Children Under 18 years of age Daily Screening Questionnaire (See Appendix A)
Daily Fit for Work Screening Questionnaire (See Appendix B)
Adults 18 years and older Daily Screening Questionnaire (See Appendix C)
Anyone that reports symptoms is directed to stay home, seek health care advice as appropriate (e.g., call Health Link 811, or their primary health care practitioner) and fill out the AHS Online Self-Assessment tool to determine if they should be tested.
Anyone who feels unwell with other symptoms should stay at home until they are well
Signs will be posted reminding persons not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Students may be placed in cohorts.
Cohorting is dependent on the classroom environment, number of students, age and subject. It may be easier in elementary school than in junior high or high school.
There may be occasions when teachers choose to arrange class seating to increase physical distance. This may include the use of rows of desks versus tables or pods.
Close greetings (e.g. hugs, handshakes) are to be avoided. Regularly remind students about keeping their hands to themselves.
School may stagger recess/snack, lunch and class transition times to provide a greater amount of space for everyone.
At this time, assemblies will be held virtually to avoid large gatherings of people in one space.
Classroom Barrier Shields
Classroom barrier shields are available to assist with one to one or small group work (ex. BAS testing, LLI, etc.)
Emergency PPE Tubs
Each learning space in the school is equipped with an emergency PPE tub with face masks, a face shield and gloves in the event a student becomes symptomatic and extra PPE is required.
Parents, Visitors and Service Providers Entering the School
All visitors entering the school will use the self screening tool before they enter the school.
If a visitor answers YES to any of the questions, the individual must not be admitted into the school.
All visitors must sign in and sign out at the office.
Parents, volunteers and non-essential visitors will be limited at any one time in the school.
Service providers, including delivery drivers and independent contractors must use the self screening tool before they enter the school.
If a service provider answers YES to any of the questions, the individual must not be admitted into the school.
In the case of a delivery driver answering Yes, the driver/school will make alternate delivery arrangements.
Schools will provide procedures regarding parents picking up and dropping off of students. As much as possible this will be done outside of the school.
Shared Use of Equipment and Student Supplies
Use of shared items or equipment is to be minimized where possible (scissors, markers, pencils, computers, etc.)
When shared items or equipment can not be cleaned or disinfected, users need to sanitize their hands before and after use.
Responding to Illness
Staff members, parents, and children/students should not enter the school if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or do not feel well.
Child/student develops symptoms while at the school:
The child/student will wear a non-medical mask if they are able to, and be moved to the infirmary.
The parent/guardian will be notified to come and pick up the student immediately.
Schools will have an emergency contact list for each child, in the event parents are unable to pick up your child within one hour.
If the child/student requires close contact and care, staff can continue to care for the child/student until the parent is able to pick up the child/student.
The student and staff should wear a mask and close interactions with the student that may result in contact with the student’s respiratory secretions should be avoided.
If very close contact is required and the child is young the staff member should also use a face shield or eye protection.
The infirmary will be cleaned and disinfected as soon as the child/student has been picked up.
Schools will maintain records of a student’s known pre-existing conditions.
Confirmed Case of COVD-19
At this time, Alberta Health Services will not be notifying schools of positive COVID-19 cases and close contacts will not be notified.
Staff, students or parents may choose to inform the school administration of a positive COVID-19 test. This information is confidential unless otherwise directed by the individual or parent.
Individuals are not required to share their COVID-19 test results with school administrators.
School administrators are not required to contact AHS to report student or staff cases.
Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test is required to isolate and follow the protocols outlined by Alberta Health Services. (See Appendix D - Management of Symptomatic and Positive COVID-19 Individuals.)
Reporting & Responding to High Rates of Absenteeism or Outbreaks
If there is an absence rate of 10% due to illness OR there are an unusual amount of individuals with similar symptoms, school administrators must report to Alberta Health Services or the local public health unit as per their usual outbreak notification process.
The purpose of this is to continue to monitor for other clusters of respiratory or gastrointestinal illness and alert Alberta Health Services to potential outbreaks.
Where absenteeism of 10% or greater has been identified, Alberta Health Services may declare an outbreak and recommend additional protection measures, such as masking, to reduce spread for the duration of the outbreak .
A Medical Officer of Health has the authority to recommend additional measures. The Grasslands School Division will work with health officials to support further measures.
As per CMO Health Order 34-2021, all students PreK -12 are required to wear a mask while riding the school bus. This order is in effect until September 27, 2021.
Students should not enter the bus if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
Students will sanitize their hands when boarding the bus.
Seating plans will be in places and students will be required to sit in assigned seats.
Student attendance will be taken.
Cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, seats and backs, window areas, and rails will occur after each bus run.
Alberta Health COVID-19 Vaccinations In Schools
This year Alberta Health Services (AHS) will be providing the opportunity for students and staff to get a COVID vaccine while at school.
This new in-school vaccination program is similar to the regular school immunization operated by AHS for tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccines. Vaccination clinics will be available in schools some time between September 7 and October 15 for eligible students in Grades 7-12, who have signed parent/guardian consent.
The choice to get a vaccine is an individual one. Schools do not require or maintain vaccination records nor will students or staff be asked for proof of immunization to attend school.
Student Learning Contingency Plans
In the event that there is a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacts the education system, the following two contingencies have been determined by Alberta Education.
Scenario 1: In-school classes with enhanced health measures
Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services may mandate enhanced or increased health measures which the Grasslands School Division would be required to follow.
We will continue to rely on guidance from the Alberta Government, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and local public health officials regarding provincial and regional health measures based on local context. We will continue to work closely with Alberta Health and we will adjust recommendations when advised to do so by Alberta Health. We remain committed to communicating when health measures are adjusted.
Scenario 2: At-home learning (in-school classes are cancelled)
Grasslands will offer at-home learning opportunities to children and students based on the provincial or regional context.
Teachers continue to be responsible for assessing the progress of children and students.
Students continue to be responsible to actively engage in learning and diligently pursue their education.
School authorities, parents/guardians, children and students must continue to follow public health measures in place.
Supporting Growth in Student Learning
Under Contingency Scenario 2, school authorities can, as deemed appropriate at the local level, for Grades 1 to 9 reduce time spent teaching non-core subjects to allow for additional instruction time on core (English, Français, French Language Arts, Math, Social, and Science).
At this time, regular school programming is allowed. Until September 27th, 2021, certain programs and activities may operate under enhanced health protocols.
When possible physical education should be done outside.
Use of shared items, musical wind instruments or sports equipment is discouraged. Equipment that must be shared should be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use, or users should perform hand hygiene before and after each use.
Singing and playing wind instruments in close proximity to others are higher-risk activities and should be carefully managed by increasing physical distance between students.
Use of change rooms should be carefully managed.
Participants could come dressed for their activity or.
PE teachers should set capacity limits on use of change rooms if they are in use.
Work Experience, Green Certificate, & Off Campus
These programs may continue.
If the work experience placement is in a workplace, the student is expected to follow health rules set out by the workplace.
Field Trips and Extracurricular Clubs
Field trips (off-site activities) must follow all health protocols while on-site and while traveling to and from the location. This includes hand hygiene, masking on buses, bus seating plans, enhanced cleaning, etc.
Parent permission forms for each activity must be submitted. Permission forms must outline:
Risks including contracting COVID-19
Cohorts should be maintained during transportation to and from any external field trip site, as well as at the location of the field trip site.
Schools are encouraged to plan outdoor field trip activities.
Field trips must be approved by the principal.
Extracurricular clubs and programs (ex. Art Club, Student Council) can occur. Depending on the nature of the club or program, staff will need to consider and implement health protocols such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, reduced group size, etc.
Sports and Team Events
Student athletics/sports are allowed.
As athletics and sport participation are voluntary, each participant must have a signed parent/guardian permission form prior to participation.
Permission forms will outline expectations and risks of participation.
General Infection Prevention Measures
Attendees should refrain (to the extent possible) from touching their eyes, nose, mouth and face during activities.
It is important that sports/activities that involve shared equipment (e.g., shared baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs, etc.) include regular hand hygiene and cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
Hand hygiene should occur before and after each activity.
Respiratory etiquette is important to prevent the spread of droplets that may contain the COVID-19 virus.
Attendees should refrain from spitting and clearing their nasal passages during activities.
Attendees should proactively and regularly monitor for symptoms.
Symptomatic individuals are prohibited from participating. Students need to complete the Daily Screening Checklist before participating.
Limit celebration gestures or customs during activities (e.g., handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, chest bumps) that promote physical contact.
Water bottles are labelled with the name of the owner and not shared.
It is recommended that access to locker rooms is limited to reduce gathering.
Participants should be encouraged to bring their own equipment for any activity (shared equipment should be cleaned and sanitized at an increased frequency and between each use).
Where equipment is provided (ie. football), coaches and players will be responsible for proper cleaning and disinfecting before it is offered to the next participant.
If gym or field equipment is being used, it is strongly recommended this equipment be sanitized before and after each session.
It is recommended that equipment not be shared with other cohorts without proper sanitizing.
It is recommended that the number of people setting up and putting away the equipment be kept to a minimum.
It is strongly recommended that hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes be made available to participants and those responsible for setting up and putting away equipment.
Food Sharing in Schools
Lunches and drinks/snacks are not to be shared between students.
Food classes are allowed.
Proper food handling procedures such as hand hygiene, gloves, respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and disinfection are essential.
Food sharing such as pot lucks, buffet-style services are not permitted at this time.
Hot lunch programs, teacher provided snacks or parent treats may continue provided there is a designated person serving the food and snacks/treats are individually wrapped.
Outside User Groups
Until September 27th, outside user groups who are not part of the City of Brooks/Grasslands Joint User Agreement, Shortgrass Library System or Newell Concert Association will not be able to use spaces after school. This will be reviewed after September 27, 2021.
Additional custodial costs may be charged due to enhanced cleaning and disinfecting.
MANAGEMENT OF SYMPTOMATIC AND POSITIVE COVID-19 INDIVIDUALS