What's happening at Foothills

Simon Says - What Happens Next? Summer, September and School Re-Entry

Published: June 17, 2020 5:43 p.m.

The current projection is for schools to operate under the conditions of scenario 1, where all students return to school as normal, but with significant health measures and protocols in place. However, we will not know for sure which scenario is going to be in place until we are told on August 1st. Also, even if we begin the school year with scenario 1, there is a possibility that we may have to switch to scenario 2 or 3 at short notice during the course of the year; depending upon the changing status of COVID-19 throughout the province and country. Therefore, we are developing plans for each eventuality.

Dear parents, families and community members,

As we wrap up the school year in a manner that nobody could have foreseen a few months ago, we are planning for a more regular looking school start-up in September. The Ministry of Education will inform us by August 1st as to what school operations will look like next year.  The scenarios which are still being reviewed are:

  1. In-school classes resume for all students as normally as possible, with health measures
  2. In-school classes partially resume with additional health measures
  3. At-Home Learning continues, (in-school classes are suspended/cancelled)

The current projection is for schools to operate under the conditions of scenario 1, where all students return to school as normal, but with significant health measures and protocols in place. However, we will not know for sure which scenario is going to be in place until we are told on August 1st. Also, even if we begin the school year with scenario 1, there is a possibility that we may have to switch to scenario 2 or 3 at short notice during the course of the year; depending upon the changing status of COVID-19 throughout the province and country. Therefore, we are developing plans for each eventuality.

For now, assuming scenario 1 is in place in September, and in-school classes are happening, we want to share the government's guidelines, from which we will make our own protocols.

Government Guidelines for School Re-Entry:

It is likely that somewhere in Alberta, a school student will test positive for COVID-19. Therefore, we will be vigilant with our new protocols for the safety of all. We will be employing physical distancing where possible, good hand hygiene practices, room arrangements to maintain as much space as we can, education of best practices, signage, flow direction in hallways, separate entrances for different grades, cohorts of grades and teams, additional cleaning of high touch areas, promotion of respiratory etiquette, and strict measures on having only healthy students, staff and visitors come into the school.

It is apparent that some new school health protocols to contain COVID-19 present logistical challenges, from the classroom, to the bus, PE, electives and common areas during free-time. However, our hygiene and facility policies will be supported by defined cohorts for students.  Students will be restricted to their cohort during school time, and each cohort will be determined by grade or team (teams 1, 2, 3, or 4). This will allow us to readily trace individuals who have been in contact with anybody who tests positive for COVID-19, in the event of a positive test. We will, therefore, be able to respond appropriately and accordingly should a positive case of COVID-19 occur at Foothills.

As a parent, it is imperative that you play your role to help us limit any potential spread of the virus throughout Foothills. Therefore, every morning you will have to complete the COVID-19 screener questionnaire with your child before you send them to school. The screener questionnaire takes a few moments to complete, and is found in Appendix C of the Re-Entry scenario 1 document: COVID-19 information: Guidance for School Re-Entry – Scenario 1 – In school classes resume (near normal with health measures).

If you are unable to access the screener here, you can find it on our website, and it will also be shared with you by your child’s homeroom teacher before school begins in September.  

If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19 they are NOT to come to school and must have a COVID-19 test and negative results before returning. 

If a child becomes symptomatic whilst at school, we will isolate the student, and their parents must pick them up immediately. If it is too difficult for you to leave your workplace during the day to pick up your child if they fall ill, you need to ensure that you have somebody available to collect your child from school as soon as possible. 

These are some of the protocols that we are working on for the new school year, as we ensure that student and staff safety is our number one priority. With all of the changes, we have had over the past few months, and these new protocols being in place, it is likely that students will feel more anxious than usual about school start-up. Therefore, staff will be connecting with students and parents before school-start up, to help re-engage students back into school life for September. I also urge those of you who have not been weekly consumers of Dr. Karen MacMillan’s Weekly Wellness newsletters, to read the strategies and advice which has been provided over the past three months. Karen and the counselling team have been sharing resources, support and strategies to help families and students through the current crisis, and this invaluable information will be beneficial to help with the re-entry back into school too. 

Despite the strange end to the school year, and the introduction of new protocols for September, we are still anticipating a positive start to the new school year. It is exciting to think about getting back to school, and returning to routines and schedules for learning. We are launching some new initiatives this September, to support the learning needs of our students, focusing upon their individual Learning Disabilities. There has been ongoing work over the past year, which will continue through the summer, developing supports for each child in their area of need and in their areas of strength. Despite the unpredictability of the past few months, and the challenges classroom closures have presented, we continue to focus upon the academic, social and emotional needs of our students. Our commitment to supporting every child with their development and learning is as strong as ever, as we help them to develop into the great individuals we know they all are.

We are truly excited to see you for the new school year, so we hope that we are given the green light on August 1st to proceed with resuming in-school classes. We will let all parents and families know about school re-entry, as soon as we hear confirmation from the Ministry of Education.

In the meantime, it is important for students, parents and families to re-calibrate, so we wish you all a happy and healthy summer, albeit a different looking one.

Here’s to a new, more normal school year,

Most Sincerely,

Simon