Return to School - January 10, 2022

Return to School - January 10, 2022
Posted on 01/07/2022

January 7, 2022

Dear Aspen View families,

Re: Return to School - January 10, 2022

Following a province-wide extension of the winter break, the Government of Alberta has announced that
in-person learning for Kindergarten-Grade 12 students will resume on Monday, January 10, 2022. The purpose of this letter is to provide school families with information based on the most recent Government of Alberta public health measures and guidelines. Aspen View Public Schools will promptly update school families as new or different information is made available. 

What we’ve done to prepare:

Staff at each school worked this week to prepare for the resumption of in-person learning, as well as being able to pivot quickly to at-home learning should circumstances warrant.

All schools were closed to staff today (January 7) and over the weekend to allow for a thorough cleaning. Air circulation (HVAC) systems within all Aspen View schools have been thoroughly inspected and cleaned, with regular maintenance schedules in place. Schools are also encouraged to open windows and doors, and engage in outdoor activities when weather permits.

The Aspen View Public Schools Return to School Plan has been updated to reflect current public health guidance and practices.

What to expect when students return:

Masking

Students can expect more frequent reminders to wear their masks. Mask-wearing remains mandatory for all Grade 4-12 students and staff, and is strongly recommended for K-3 students. Masking remains mandatory on school buses for everyone, regardless of age. 

The Government of Alberta is providing an 8-week supply of medical-grade masks for all students and school staff. Delivery of these masks is expected next week. Schools will communicate distribution details with their school families once their allotment of masks has arrived. Use of the provided medical-grade masks is optional, however, mask-wearing remains mandatory as described above.

Please ensure that students are wearing masks when they board their school bus and/or arrive at school. Buses and schools will be equipped with a limited supply of masks for students who may have forgotten or misplaced their mask; however, repeatedly providing replacement masks is not a sustainable solution. We thank families for helping students be responsible for their own masks.

At-Home Rapid Tests

The Government of Alberta is providing two 5-test kits for at-home use for each student and staff member. Delivery of rapid test kits is expected next week, and schools will communicate distribution details with their school families once they arrive.

Information on the at-home rapid test program, including a how-to video for parents, can found in the documents linked below:

Education At-Home Rapid Testing Program

How-To Video for Parents

COVID-19 Rapid Testing Guidelines

Staying home when sick

Students and staff should continue to use the Alberta Health Daily Checklist before going to school. With the rise of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19, it is increasingly important that students and staff stay home if they exhibit symptoms or feel unwell.

The mandatory isolation period for people with core symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, loss of sense of smell or taste, sore throat [adults only], runny nose [adults only]) that are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition is:

  • Fully vaccinated: 5 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer, plus 5 days of wearing a mask at all times when around others outside of home.
  • Not fully vaccinated: 10 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
  • If a person tests negative, they should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.

Extra-curricular activities

Extra-curricular activities (ex. school sports) that have already commenced may continue as cohorted events (ex. practices) only. Participation in cross-cohort games and tournaments is temporarily suspended, and will be re-evaluated at the beginning of February.

Extra-curricular activities that have not yet commenced will be paused and re-evaluated at the beginning of February.

School volunteers

Volunteers already working in schools may continue to do so, subject to current public health guidelines and Aspen View Public Schools procedures. The inclusion of additional volunteers is temporarily suspended and will be re-evaluated at the beginning of February.

Public reporting, outbreak definition and contact notification in schools

With the rapid rise in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 within the province, Alberta Health Services has changed its case investigation protocols to focus on highest risk settings and individuals. As a result, there will be no public reporting of cases identified within school settings. Schools and school authorities will not receive positive case notification of staff or students; therefore, there will no longer be communication to parents or the school community regarding positive cases. 

School authorities continue to have the discretion to shift a class or individual grade to short-term at-home/online learning if needed to address operational challenges at a school. Protocols are also in place for school authorities to request a short-term shift of one or more schools to at-home/online learning, based on student absentee rates, the ability of a school to have staff available to operate in-school classes, and other relevant information including local health data, if available.

If the situation changes:

While we are hopeful that in-person learning can be maintained for the remainder of the school year, protocols are in place to shift classes, grades or schools to at-home learning should circumstances warrant. School staff have worked diligently to prepare for a smooth transition to at-home learning if required, and also to support individual students if they are unable to attend school in-person due to mandatory isolation requirements.

Additional information

Additional information from the Government of Alberta regarding the January 10, 2022 return to school, including additional information on masking, rapid tests, health measures and vaccinations can be found through the following link:

Staying safe and healthy this school year

Other Government of Alberta resources that may be useful to school families include:

Alberta Health Daily Checklist

Isolation & Quarantine Requirements

Symptoms & Testing

Vaccines for Children

Aspen View Public Schools is grateful for the resilience, dedication and flexibility shown by students, families and staff over the past two years. Aspen View Public Schools continues to diligently follow all public health guidance to help provide safe and effective learning environments for all students and staff.

Sincerely,

Neil O’Shea
Superintendent
Aspen View Public Schools

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