Families can now choose how their child learns, in person or online in Quarter 2. Read more about how to make your choice by the October 19 deadline.

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School Re-entry

Our Division welcomed students and staff back into clasrooms this September, after the Government of Alberta announced that in-school classes will resume. We continue to take direction from Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and the Government of Alberta. We are following the guidance outlined in the government’s 2020-2021 School Re-Entry Plan.

The safety and well-being of students, families and staff is our greatest priority. We’re taking new precautions to protect everyone’s health.

DIVISION RE-ENTRY STRATEGY 

Read our COVID-19 Division Re-entry Strategy to learn about steps we’re taking to keep students and staff as safe as possible in our schools. This strategy outlines important guidelines around screening for illness, handwashing, physical distancing where possible, extra cleaning and disinfecting measures, cohorts, masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

In some cases, our Division strategy may exceed requirements set out by the provincial government. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep students and safe as possible, schools will follow the guidelines in our Division strategy.

FAMILY CHOICE

We recognize that in-person classes might not be the right choice for all families and staff during the 2020-21 school year, depending on their personal circumstances and well-being. That is why we are offering choice. Our goal is to ensure all students receive a high-quality education, which is why we will offer Distance and Online learning throughout the 2020-21 school year.

A quarterly system for 2020-21 

Families will be able to decide, at four key times throughout the school year, whether their child will attend school in person or learn at home through online instruction. To offer this choice, we are organizing the school year into four instructional quarters (two-month periods of learning). 

  • Quarter 1: September 3November 10 
  • Quarter 2: November 16January 29 
  • Quarter 3: February 1April 20 
  • Quarter 4: April 21June 29

Deadline for Quarter 2

Before the start of each quarter, families will be asked to indicate whether their child will learn in person or online for the following quarter. No matter what choice they make, the student will remain enrolled and connected to the school where they registered or pre-enrolled for the 2020-21 school year. 

Starting at 8 a.m. on October 5, families can sign in to SchoolZone to make their choice. The deadline to let us know your decision is 4 p.m. on October 19. We are asking all families to complete the form in SchoolZone. Whether you’re continuing on with the same learning option, or switching, please let us know.

Families should follow these step-by-step instructions once they are signed into their parent account on SchoolZone:

  • Click the Forms menu option at the top of your screen
  • Choose Additional Forms
  • Select Family Choice - Quarter 2 (click anywhere on the row)
  • Review the information sheet then click Respond at the bottom of the page. (Depending on the type of device you're using, you may need to download the information sheet.)
  • Choose from the drop-down menus on the right side of the screen to complete the form
  • Click Submit
  • Complete the form for each child enrolled at Edmonton Public Schools

Families who do not have access to SchoolZone should contact their school by 4 p.m. on October 19 to indicate their choice. 

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE FAMILY CHOICE DEADLINE

The family choice deadline plays an important role in ensuring schools have enough teaching staff assigned to both online and in-person classes. Schools and our central office need time to put appropriate staff in place, and to make sure teachers are well prepared and supported with the resources they need to start instruction.

Shifting from in-person to online learning

Students will not be able to switch from in-person to online learning once the family choice deadline has passed.

If families choose to keep their child home midway through a quarter, they will receive work from their classroom teacher to complete at home—they will not be placed in an online class. The family will be responsible for guiding their child as they complete this work at home. Then, they may choose online learning for the following quarter.

Shifting from online to in-person learning

If a student wants to shift from online learning to in-person learning, the family should contact their school principal to find out if there is room in a specific grade.

SAFETY MEASURES

Schools and classes will look different than they did before, as we all follow new health measures. Our Division is implementing the Government of Alberta’s safety plans to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These include:

  • routine health screening for all staff and students
  • a stay-at-home policy for anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
  • mandatory masks for students from Grades 4–12 and all staff in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained, as outlined in provincial guidelines
  • cleaning standards, which include:
    • disinfecting in schools, classrooms and washrooms
    • limiting shared supplies and equipment
  • physical distancing, including:
    • reorganizing rooms to allow more physical space, when possible
    • directing foot traffic
    • limiting large gatherings
  • cohort classes
  • hygiene routines, including:
    • hand hygiene, such as handwashing and sanitizing
    • respiratory etiquette, such as covering sneezes and coughs with a tissue or sleeve and then washing hands

The safest return to school possible during a pandemic is our shared responsibility. Families, students and staff all need to do their part to protect each other’s well-being in our schools and communities.

ROUTINE HEALTH SCREENING

Everyone is expected to follow the Government of Alberta’s health-screening requirements. Parents and guardians must use the Government of Alberta self-screening questionnaire (available in multiple languages) every day, to decide if their child should attend school. Families are not required to submit the form to their school. It is a tool to assess their child’s wellness before sending them to school.

Staff, school visitors who have appointments and other people permitted inside the school must also screen themselves using the questionnaire before entering the building.

STAY-AT-HOME POLICY 

If you or your child answers “yes” to any questions on the Government of Alberta self-screening questionnaire (available in multiple languages), do not go to school or work. Stay home and seek health-care advice from Health Link 811 or your primary health care provider. Students and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, runny nose or sore throat, must stay home. Anyone with symptoms should use the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19. These actions will not only help keep you and your family safe, but will also help keep other students, staff and families healthy. 

MASKS ARE REQUIRED

Masks are emerging as an important way to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, particularly when people are indoors and physical distancing is a challenge.

All staff and students in Grades 4–12 will be required to wear a mask when physical distancing at school and in the classroom is not possible. This is one way to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus, and follows the Government of Alberta guidelines. We are asking K–3 students who are physically, psychologically or developmentally able to wear a mask, to do so.

Some important things to know about the use of masks are: 

  • individuals who are physically, psychologically or developmentally unable to wear a mask, or any protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act, will be excused from this health protocol.
  • families will work with the school principal to discuss this relative to their child 
  • masks are required for staff who are wearing face shields 
  • please follow the provincial health guidelines for how to choose and wear a mask
  • masks will be an important item on school supply lists for families.
    • every student in the Division will be provided with two reusable masks
  • if someone forgets their mask, schools will ensure there are supplies available for students and staff

IF COVID-19 IS CONFIRMED IN A SCHOOL

If health officials confirm a case of COVID-19 in a school community, we will follow the process outlined by the province. The zone medical officer of health will work with our Division to share information with families, students and staff. They will: 

  • identify cases through easily accessible testing
  • identify close contacts
  • create isolation measures when needed
  • provide follow-up recommendations

A COVID-19 case will not automatically lead to school closure. It could be that only the group of students and staff who came in close contact will be required to stay home for 14 days.

Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school. If a student is sick and required to self-isolate, their school will support them to learn at home. Our Division is committed to working with provincial health partners to keep families informed. 

STAY UP TO DATE

We will share detailed information about our school re-entry plans in the coming weeks. Stay up to date by checking our website, SchoolZone, Facebook and Twitter for the latest information. SchoolMessenger may also be used to keep families informed of important school updates as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

LETTERS TO FAMILIES