Dear Parents and Guardians
I hope your child is adjusting well to in-person learning after the extended winter break. We are so pleased to welcome students back to school, but I know that with increasing cases of Omicron in the community, this can be a stressful time. I am committed to keeping you up to date on everything we are doing to keep schools as safe as possible for students and staff.
This week many schools in our system have been impacted by staff illnesses and isolation requirements. This means schools are calling in substitute teachers or other teaching staff and leaders to cover absences.
We continue to ask for your patience as we make daily adjustments. We may be required to move your child to at-home learning on short notice. Please monitor your emails in the evenings and before school each day for potential updates.
So far this week, three schools have transitioned a total of seven classes to learning at home for a one-week period. This limited number of transitions is a reflection of the outstanding commitment by our staff to maintaining in-person learning.
As we continue to work together, I would like to provide some information on updated guidance and measures the CBE is taking, as well as reminders of health measures in place.
New – Updated Provincial Guidelines
The province has provided new guidance in its COVID-19 Information for K-12 Schools and School Buses document, Changes include:
- Alberta Health Daily Checklist – This document has been updated. Please ensure you review this each day to determine next steps if your child is feeling unwell and when they can return to school.
- New mask guidance – Families are still able to provide their own masks, but the government has updated its guidance. The guidance states: If non-medical masks are worn, they should be constructed of at least three layers: two of breathable, tightly woven fabric such as cotton, and an additional effective middle filter layer, such as non-woven polypropylene.
- Positive Case Notifications – This week the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed that AHS will no longer be able to support COVID-19 and respiratory illness outbreak management in schools. Schools will not be providing notifications of positive cases to families. Please continue let your school know if your child will be absent for any reason through the normal process. We will continue to monitor student absentee rates.
Reminder – Other Health Measures in Place in Schools
We continue to encourage all eligible students to be vaccinated. The vaccination status of individual students is private health information. Schools will not be monitoring vaccination status for return to school dates or continuous masking requirements. We encourage families to ensure they understand isolation and masking requirements based on illness. Schools are prioritizing student and staff adherence to current masking guidelines.
In Progress – Further Enhancements to Ventilation
After exploring a number of options to improve ventilation in our schools, we have made the decision to install upgraded MERV 13 filters wherever possible and these filters will be changed more frequently. In addition, all schools are mechanically ventilated and systems are set to maximize air exchange.
Reminder – Masks and Rapid Tests
Shipments of medical-grade masks and rapid test kits for students and school-based staff have begun arriving directly to some CBE schools this week. Once schools receive these items they will be distributed to staff and students.
If your child has tested positive on a rapid test, they are required to isolate as per current Public Health instructions. For more information on isolation requirements after a positive rapid test, refer to the Rapid Testing at Home website.
Reminder – Transportation Delays
Yellow school bus service may also be impacted by last-minute staffing challenges due to illness. Buses may be delayed or unable to run for the day due to driver availability. If your child’s bus is delayed, please check the CBE transportation website for more information. This could also impact families using Calgary Transit. Families should have back-up plans in place if transportation is unavailable.
New – Learning Resources
While maintaining in-person learning is a priority, teachers are planning for potential transitions to at-home learning if required.
Alberta Education has made available pre-recorded tutoring sessions that support literacy and numeracy skills for students in Grades 4-9 though the e-Tutoring Hub. Later this year, these resources will be expanded to cover more grades and subjects and will include live tutoring.
I want to thank staff, students, and parents/guardians for their patience and understanding. Throughout this pandemic, we have taken steps to minimize transmission of COVID-19 in our schools. I look forward with hope and optimism as we continue learning during this difficult time
Chief Superintendent of Schools