COVID-19 Updates

 

 

Dear STS families,

Yesterday, Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency in Alberta and announced new strong restrictions to help Alberta slow the spread of COVID-19. You can see the full news release here.

The Alberta Government commended schools, students, and their families for their collective work thus far.

“We truly appreciate all your efforts to follow the health measures and to keep students and staff safe. I’d like to thank everyone in the school system for their dedication to continue student learning both in-class and at-home during this unprecedented school year,” Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education.

They also said that these decisions were made after careful consideration and are based on the advice of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. While in-school transmission appears to be occurring at relatively low levels over the past three months, the temporary shift to at-home learning for Middle and Senior School students will help limit the spread of COVID-19 as well as alleviate operational and learning challenges. Requiring all students to stay home from school until January 11 is also intended to help reduce the impact of any exposures over the holidays.

Specific details pertaining to STS students:

  • All students in Alberta in Grades 7 to 12 will start at-home learning on Monday, November 30 until the beginning of the winter break on December 19, 2020. 
  • All students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 will remain in school for in-person learning and will continue to follow all protocols already in place until the winter break.
  • STS’ winter break will run December 18, 2020 to January 11, 2021, as per the school calendar. 
  • Alberta schools are not closed for the November 30 to December 18 timeframe. Our campus will remain open for Kindergarten to Grade 6 instruction, and all faculty will be on-site. While instruction for students in Grades 7 to 12 has been moved to at-home learning, students and parents can still access the building for a range of reasons, i.e. picking up or dropping of materials assignments or supplies, using school internet to download/upload, parent-teacher meetings, supplemental support, etc. Protocols for accessing the school and campus will be forthcoming and coordinated by Division Principals. All COVID-19 protocols and Alberta Health Services (AHS) requirements will continue to be followed.
  • This morning, in conversation with the Deputy Minister of Education, we learned that there may be some flexibility in providing on-site support and services for our Grades 7 to 12 students. Further information about campus accessibility for students will be shared via ManageBac as we gain clarity from AHS.
  • All diploma exams for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year are optional. Students will receive an exemption if they choose not to write an exam, however if an exam is written it will continue to be worth 30 percent of their final mark. The decision to write diploma exams resides with students and their families. Families are invited to discuss this decision with Mr. Anand Mahadevan, Senior School Principal.
  • Students in Grades 7 to 12 should make sure that they are taking home material from their lockers this week that will help them with work from home, i.e. textbooks, workbooks, chargers, phones. Any food or other material that may spoil needs to be cleaned out of the lockers.
  • Bussing will continue as normal for regular routes with regular timing. It is possible for Grade 7 to 12 students to ride the bus to or from school if they have a meeting or scheduled tutorial. There will be no early or late bus during the month of December.
  • Black Watch Bistro service will continue to operate as normal.
  • Currently, we expect all students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 to return to learning at school, in-person, on Monday, January 11, after our winter break. This will depend on the effectiveness of these new measures in slowing the spread of COVID-19 over the next six weeks.

You can reference these new measures, and other helpful COVID-19 resources on our STS COVID-19 Updates website, and as always, please do reach out to your Division Principals (Jennifer Conway, Jessica Richmond and Anand Mahadevan)  or me if you have any concerns and questions. Please also let us know how it's going over the next three weeks before the winter break begins – we want to ensure we are making any necessary tweaks along the way to be made to support student learning and wellbeing. 

We will continue to do what is best for our students under these new measures, and to communicate with you every step of the way. I know this is challenging. I encourage each of us to take this time to focus on doing whatever we can to keep our STS and greater community safe. There is nothing we want more than for our families to be healthy and to have all of our students back at school.

We have done this before, we have learned a lot along the way, and we are ready to do this again. We also have every confidence that our students will manage this temporary change well, with focus, compassion, and patience.

I know that together, we’ve got this!

Sincerely,

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt
Head of School

https://www.Dear STS families,

Dear STS families,

With cases of COVID-19 rising rapidly in our province, creating added pressure on our healthcare system, health officials are very concerned. Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw made several recommendations for added measures to the Priorities Implementation Cabinet Committee. As a result, Premier Kenney said today, “Alberta’s government is declaring a state of public health emergency and putting aggressive measures in place to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID-19 cases…..We are reminded of the profound human impact of this crisis, and must act together to stop the spike, protecting both lives and livelihoods.”

This afternoon Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services, held a news conference to announce new measures to help Alberta slow the spread of COVID-19.

The new measures announced today that directly impact schools include:

·        All students in Alberta in Grades 7 to 12 will start at-home learning Monday, November 30, 2020, until the beginning of the winter break.  

·        All students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 will remain in school for in-person learning until the winter break.

·        School winter break closures are mandated from December 18 to January 11. Note: This is when our STS winter break is scheduled anyway.

You can view the full news release and watch today’s news conference in full here:

Our Leadership Team has been invited to a meeting with the Deputy Minister tomorrow, which will help us to work through exactly how these changes will impact our students, families, and employees. We will provide a more detailed action plan tomorrow.

Thank you for your strength, determination, and empathy during this ongoing, and at times seemingly relentless, situation. Please know that we truly understand that this has been a long road, and that you are fatigued and want nothing more than for this pandemic to end and for life to return to normal. I sincerely hope for that too and am confident that there is much light at the end of this tunnel.

For now, we remain in this together, and I am grateful for the joy that can be found on our campus every day, and our community’s continued support for our school and one another. We can only do this if we continue to stay connected in positive and productive ways, remain nimble, and follow the guidance of Alberta Health Services.

 

Please visit our STS COVID-19 website to reference these new measures, and other helpful COVID-19 resources, and as always, please do reach out to your Division Principal or me if you have any concerns and questions. We will be in touch soon with more information.

Sincerely, 

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt
Head of School  

Please visit our STS COVID-19 website to reference these new measures, and other helpful COVID-19 resources, and as always, please do reach out to your Division Principal or me if you have any concerns and questions. We will be in touch soon with more information.strathconatweedsmuir.com/covid19-updates/who-to-contact/

Dear STS families,

I need to share with you that a positive COVID-19 case has been identified in one of our Grade 5 classes. Our immediate and continued focus is the safety and care of every individual in our building, and specifically, our thoughts are with the affected individual and their family. We wish them a quick recovery and continue to offer them any support we can provide. The family is to be commended for the cooperation they have provided, which has allowed us to move quickly and avoid any additional risk to our greater community. Please join me in supporting them with your thoughts and well wishes.

What we are doing:

  • We are working closely with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to ensure necessary measures are in place to protect students and employees.
  • AHS protocols require all individuals in close contact with a case to self-isolate for 14 days, and COVID-19 testing is recommended. AHS will be contacting parents/guardians of students, as well as any employees/visitors/volunteers who may have been in close contact with the case. Given the information we have at this time, transmission appears to have occurred outside the STS school community.
  • The Grade 5 students impacted today were picked up by parent/guardians this afternoon, and learning for those students will continue online. Employees identified as close contacts have also gone home.
  • Our STS team is also currently contacting those who may have been in close contact with the case. Please know if you have not been personally contacted by the end of today, there is no cause for further action at this time.
  • Students in Grades 5 – 12 have also being notified of the situation, and our Student Services team including Lori Gonzalez, Guidance Counsellor, and the Learning Strategist in each Division are available to meet with students as needed.
  • We will be deep-cleaning affected areas on campus tonight.
  • As we manage this situation, we remain strongly committed to taking our lead from Alberta Health Services, and to keeping you informed and safe, while ensuring the confidentiality in all matters related to student and employee health information.

What you can do:

  • To those who are required to isolate, please know that we are here to support you in whichever way we can. We appreciate that this is likely an anxiety-provoking time for you and your families. 
  • As per AHS guidelines, family members of close contacts, including siblings, are not required to self-isolate. With that said, we support the decisions you make that are best for your family.
  • We remind all community members to monitor for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. The Alberta Health daily checklist can be found on our COVID-19 updates webpage. Please remember to complete the checklist each day prior to attending school.
  • Please do not hesitate to reach out to me, Trevor Julian, Deputy Head, or your Division Principal (Mr. Mahadevan, Ms. Richmond, or Ms. Conway) with questions, thoughts or concerns.
  • Ms. Tara Leece, School Nurse, is available to answer any health-related questions you may have. 
  • There are helpful resources available on the AHS website including:

We are here to support you, and can only do this if we continue to stay connected in positive and productive ways, and follow the guidance of Alberta Health Services.

We anticipate we will receive further direction from AHS in the days ahead, and will continue to communicate with you as the situation evolves. Thank you for your strength, compassion, and empathy during this time. We are truly all in this together, and I am grateful for each of you and the work you are doing to keep our school safe. 

Sincerely,

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt
Head of School 

Important clarifications regarding international travel

We have received several inquiries regarding travel in light of the new International Border Testing Program that has been launched at the Calgary airport. While participating in the pilot could lead to shorter quarantines when returning to Canada, there are a few important clarifications to keep in mind: 

  • Participants in the pilot are prohibited from certain settings during the course of the pilot, most importantly, schools, as stated here:

“Participants are prohibited from certain settings during the course of the pilot including School and child care: Child care programs (for example daycare, out of school care), K to 12 schools and post-secondary institutions - attendees, students in schools and staff who work in these settings cannot go back to these settings until they have their second test and have received a negative result”

  • The second test can occur on Day 6 or 7 after returning to Canada, and timing for the results varies.
  • If anyone in the household has symptoms at the time of entry back to Canada, they will not be able to participate in the pilot.
  • All family members who have travelled and are part of the pilot program cannot attend any cohorted activities outside of school for 14-days, including dance, sports, music, etc.
  • All families must have a 14-day full quarantine back-up plan.

Even with this pilot in place, Alberta Health is still asking us to continue to avoid unnecessary travel outside of Canada — and if you do travel, be aware of strict protocols surrounding quarantines etc. and to have a back up plan. With this in mind, we respectfully ask that you carefully consider any travel plans and potential impacts to our school community. 

You can find more information about the International Border Testing Program and travel restrictions here: https://www.alberta.ca/international-border-pilot-project.aspx

Call to action from Dr. Hinshaw: 

As outlined by Dr. Hinshaw in one of her daily updates this week, in Alberta we are at a critical juncture in this pandemic – and numbers of cases over the next week will show if new protocols around smaller group gatherings (15 max) etc. are working. The Alberta government is trying to avoid further restrictions but it may be necessary of we don’t see numbers start to go down again.

Dr. Hinshaw also said that it is in our hands and that collectively, we can continue to take precautions to reverse current trends, including:

  • Avoid close contact with those outside of your household
  • Consider postponing social gatherings
  • Stay home and get tested if you are sick
  • Practice good hand hygiene and consistent masking

You can find up-to-date information on the pandemic situation in Alberta here: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

 

 

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following section: 

  • Healthy Policies
    • Student Illness during COVID-19 

Dear STS families, 

As per communication we received yesterday from Andre Corbould, Deputy Minister of Education, and as outlined in the daily update provided by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health, some changes have been made to Alberta COVID-19 protocols that impact families with school-age children, including the COVID-19 Alberta Health daily checklist being revised.

As said by Mr. Corbould:

These evidence-based changes are needed to lessen the number of students who are required to isolate without sufficient cause and to address the growing demand on our health system for symptomatic testing, while maintaining student and staff safety….these changes in the daily checklist will help ensure we focus testing, decrease wait times and get Albertans who are under 18 years of age back into the classroom and participating in activities as quickly and safely as possible, while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Updates regarding daily checklists take effect on Monday, November 2 and include:

  • A new Alberta Health daily checklist for children under 18 has been released and applies to Albertans under 18. This also applies to individuals who are 18 and over and are attending high school. The new checklist is available here.
  • All other Albertans who are 18 and over, including school staff, will continue to use the Alberta Health daily checklist that was previously posted online.
  • Symptoms of runny nose and sore throat have been removed from the mandatory isolation checklist for Albertans under 18.
  • The core isolation symptoms for children are now one (or more) of the following: cough, fever, loss of taste or smell and shortness of breath. If a child has any of these core symptoms:
    • They are to isolate for 10 days OR have a negative COVID-19 test result and feel better before they return to school or other activities.
  • If a child has one of the following symptoms: chills; sore throat or painful swallowing; runny nose or congestion; feeling unwell or fatigue; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; unexplained loss of appetite; muscle or joint aches; headache; or conjunctivitis (pink eye):
    • The child should stay home and monitor for 24 hours.
    • If their symptom is improving after 24 hours, they can return to school/activities when they feel well enough to attend. Testing is not recommended.
    • If the symptom worsens after 24 hours, or if additional symptoms emerge, or if the child has any two symptoms from this second list, they are to continue to stay home, and testing is recommended but not required. The child can return to activities and school when their symptoms have resolved AND it has been 24 hours or more since their symptoms started.

STS remains committed to adhering to Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education protocols as they evolve, and to keeping you informed and safe. Please visit our STS COVID-19 website to reference these changes, the new daily checklist, and other helpful COVID-19 resources, and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt
Head of School

The STS Campus Re-entry plan has been updated in the following section: 

  • Supporting Students 
    • Athletics 

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following section: 

  • Supporting Parents 
    • COVID-19 Guidance for Parents of Children attending school 

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following sections: 

  • Healthy Policies 
    • Isolation and Communication Protocols 
  • Middle School 
    • Uniforms 
    • Physical Education 
  • Senior School 
    • Uniforms 

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following sections: 

  • Healthy Activities 
  • Supporting Students 
    • Fine Arts
  • Middle School 
    • Arts
  • Senior School 
    • Senior School Band 

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following sections:

  • Supporting Students
    • Athletics 
  • Middle School 
    • Athletics 
  • Senior School 
    • Athletics 

Dear STS families,

As I am sure you are aware, several schools in Alberta have reported cases of COVID-19. As outlined by Alberta Health and the Government’s back-to-school guidelines, any time one case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school, that school is put on “Alert” status, and Alberta Health will work directly with them to communicate with families and limit the risk of spread.

Please know that as of today, STS has no reported cases, but it remains important that we are all vigilant in following our protocols and are prepared for a potential case in the future. If that happens, we have put in place numerous procedures to limit interactions between cohorts, in hopes that we can mitigate the risk of spread and avoid impact to the day-to-day operations of the school as a whole.

With that said, I want to reaffirm a few key points:

  1. The health and safety of our whole STS community is dependent on each of us being committed to playing a role in our layered approach, especially being attentive to the “big three”masks, hygiene, and physical distancing. We ask if you are on school property to please wear masks – even when outside dropping-off or picking-up your children.
  2. It is imperative that every student and employee conducts the Daily Screening Questionnaire before coming to school. If an individual answers YES to any of the questions, they are not allowed to attend school. You can find the questionnaire here: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/edc-covid-19-screening-questionaire-english.pdf
  3. If you answer yes to ANY of the questions on the Daily Screening Questionnaire, it is important to do a “Self-Assessment” through the AHS website. The assessment tool will provide direction on actions you will need to take. You can find the Self-Assessment tool here: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
  4. We have a good plan and strong leadership. In conjunction with Alberta Health and Alberta Education guidelines, our plan was designed with a core focus on who we are as a school and community. We also continue to be in close contact with a specific Alberta Health representative whose role is to provide us with updates and guidance as this situation evolves. Please trust the plan and processes we have in place.
  5. Transparency will remain a top priority. We will clearly and consistently communicate any developments that impact our school community with you directly. To stay up-to-date on STS related updates please check our COVID-19 Updates webpages regularly. https://www.strathconatweedsmuir.com/covid19-updates/

With your help, I remain confident that we can and will do this well, understanding that this situation is not easy. Each of us is travelling a different path and at times we are digging deep. While it may have been difficult at times, there is also abundant joy and hope to be found on our campus every day, and I sincerely appreciate our community’s continued support for our school and one another.

As always, please do reach out to your Division Principal or me if you have any concerns and questions.

With respect,

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt
Head of School

Dear STS community,

I am pleased to share our 2020-2021 STS Campus Re-entry Plan with you, which has been designed with a core focus on who we are as a school and community. In conjunction with Alberta Health and Alberta Education guidelines, our STS mission and values acted as our compass in developing this road map for bringing our students and employees back to campus this fall.

As experience over the past six months has taught us, all plans are “subject to change” as the context surrounding this global pandemic evolves. With this in mind, we ask that each of you spend time reflecting on the values of our community as they apply in this context. I do believe that together, with a focus on the well-being of everyone and upholding the values of our school, we can manage this transition in the STS way, striving for our best, being innovative, and maintaining community. I understand that our views on the current situation are as diverse as our community. Respecting that diversity will be key to a successful return.

As you will see, our plan is built to:

  • optimize our unique outdoor campus to create additional space for teaching, learning, and play.
  • create an environment where students can be successful, healthy, and happy.
  • maximize a healthy environment in our physical space with special attention to air ventilation, disinfection, removing potential risks, and managing human traffic.  
  • take care of our STS family, and empower each community member to play a critical role in a successful campus re-entry.  
  • focus on physical, social, and mental health and wellness, and personalized solutions.
  • go above and beyond, addressing issues with a ‘yes’ mindset, and exceeding guidelines wherever possible.

With these important principles at the forefront of all that we do, we have taken a layered approach, meaning there is not just one measure being taken to protect our community at any given time. Key components to maximize protection are: handwashing and overall hygiene, cohorting, physical distancing, and disinfecting.

I encourage you to take time to read this document thoroughly. I am confident in our plan, and in the support we will provide to students, families, and employees as we work together to return to school safely. As we move forward, we will continue to conduct risk assessments and evaluate where health and safety measures can be adapted and/or further applied. I want to assure you that my team and I are leaving no stone unturned as we prepare to welcome back our families. 

Virtual Town Halls next week:

Please join me and members of our leadership team for one of three optional Virtual Town Halls where STS community members can ask questions and gain clarity around our STS Campus Re-entry Plan, on Tuesday, August 18. To register, please click on the Town Hall session of your choice below:

  1. 8:00 – 9:30 am, Tuesday, August 18
  2. 12:00 – 1:30 pm, Tuesday, August 18
  3. 5:00 – 6:30 pm, Tuesday, August 18

Online learning poll:

Once you have reviewed our STS Campus Re-entry Plan, if you are still considering keeping your children at home this fall please complete this poll so we can follow up with you to discuss your family’s needs.

Back-to-School Handbook:

In July, all STS families received a Back-to-School Handbook to help prepare for the upcoming school-year. This contains detailed information about uniforms, co-curriculars, athletics, clubs, school supplies, technology, timetables, volunteer opportunities, etc. An updated version of this handbook, based on our campus re-opening plan, will be distributed via email later next week.

It is truly an understatement to say that we are living in challenging and dynamic times, but at the same time, I feel an immense sense of joy and hope in anticipation of seeing our students and employees back on campus in a few weeks. Each of us in our STS community has a role to play in being vigilant as we return to campus this fall, and I look forward to working with you, confident that we can and will do this well.  Thank you for your continued support and patience.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please connect with your Division Principal or me.

Respectfully,

 

Carol Grant-Watt

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt
Head of School, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School 

Resource added: Government of Alberta Resource Guide For Covid-19 in (K-12) School Settings 

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated with important information from Alberta Health in the following sections:

  • Safer Together
    • Face Masks
  • Healthy Policies
    • Isolation and Communication Protocols
    • Face Masks

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following sections:

  • Supporting Students
    • Athletics
    • Physical Education (PE)
  • Elementary School
    • Lunch
  • Middle School
    • Lunch
    • Physical Education
  • Senior School
    • Lunch
    • Change Rooms

The STS Campus Re-entry Plan has been updated in the following sections:

  • Safer Together
    • Masks
  • Healthy Buildings
    • Portable plexiglass trifolds
    • Washrooms
  • Healthy Classrooms
    • Outdoor classrooms
  • Healthy Schedules
    • Limiting transitions
    • Lunch
  • Healthy Activities
    • Outside
    • Music and theatre activities
  • Healthy Policies
    • Daily self-screening
    • Masks
  • Supporting Students
    • Athletics
    • Timetable
    • Uniforms
  • Elementary School
    • Lunch
  • Middle School
    • Options classes
    • Arts Program
  • Senior School
    • Band

Join the STS Prefects as they walk you through what to expect when you get to campus on Monday, August 31, 2020.