A Mid-November Check In

It’s hard to believe we’ve just passed fall break! If you were fortunate enough to have this time with your family I hope it provided you with the opportunity to rest, recover and relax, even for a short while. We’ve all certainly earned it!

Unfortunately with the increasing number of COVID 19 cases within our communities we are seeing the inevitable outcome, that many of us are classified as “close contacts” of a confirmed case of Covid 19. Please know that there is no judgment whatsoever from the school should you or your children find yourselves as a close contact of a confirmed Covid 19 case or should you or your child contract this virus.

Close Contacts of a Confirmed Covid 19 Case

Should your child be identified as a close contact of a confirmed Covid 19 case, you can find the necessary information/steps in this article on our school website. Scroll down to the section titled “Close Contacts of Confirmed Cases” and you will see it states:

Parent Notification of Covid 19 from the School

To this point, at Ecole Meridian Heights School we have been very fortunate to not have had an identified case of Covid 19 within our school. Should we encounter a case at the school, information regarding contacting close contacts and parents within our learning community can be found in this article.

Together we’ve supported our students safe and happy re-entry to school for the past 2 and a half months. Thank you for your efforts and cooperation.

Until next time

Mr. S. Patras

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November Updates from Ecole Meridian Heights School

Hello parents and guardians,

It’s hard to believe we’ve already had parent/student/teacher conferences, hosted Covid friendly Halloween parties in classrooms and we are preparing for Fall Break! Please take a moment to read on to learn what’s coming next at EMHS.

Teacher Supported At Home Learning and In Person Learning Updates

As you may be aware, November 16th is the next opportunity for students to transition from Teacher Supported At Home Learning back to in person learning at Ecole Meridian Heights School. We are excited to be able to welcome back more of our students.

If your child is currently learning in person at our school but you are considering having them transition to Teacher Supported At Home learning you must call or email our school office no later than Wednesday, November 4th. Any requests to transition to online learning after this date will not be accommodated until the following transition date after Christmas.

New Guidelines from AHS for Students Who are Sick/Displaying Symptoms

As you may be aware, Alberta Health Services has recently revised their symptom list and protocols for students who are displaying symptoms of Covid 19. All of these updates are outlined on our school website. Thank you for your diligence in screening your children daily at home prior to their arrival at school. Our efforts together are helping keep our kids safe.

You can learn more about the recent changes to the guidelines in the Stay at Home Guide created by Parkland School Division and the How Long to Stay at Home Guide from AHS.

Lost and Found

Just a reminder that our Lost and Found is taken to be donated at the end of the day every Monday. If your child is missing any items (we currently have one jacket, a few hoodies, many mitts, gloves and toques and one pair of running shoes) please ask them to come check at the office for their possessions.

Remembrance Day Ceremony

Despite the challenges presented by the various protocols in place for COVID 19, we recognize how important it is to acknowledge the sacrifices of so many of our Armed Forces through a Remembrance Day Ceremony for our students. While our ceremony will definitely look different this year, rest assured that we are working to create an online ceremony that will take place in all of our classrooms this Friday, November 6th.

That’s it for now. Stay well.

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Ecole Meridian Heights School

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October Updates from EMHS

October has been a very busy month at Ecole Meridian Heights School, and there is still more to come!

Updated Covid Protocol for Students Walking or Being Dropped Off At School

For those students who are walking to school or being dropped off, we are now seeing enough flow to our students’ arrival that we can further compress this timeframe to allow our students into class more quickly. As such, effective as of Monday, October 26th, we are asking these students to arrive between 8:40 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. as attendance will be taken promptly after that.

Thank you for your continued flexibility and support as we navigate our way through these protocols and adjust accordingly.

Before and After School Arrivals

As the colder weather is beginning to arrive, we just want to remind our families that supervision begins at 8:15 a.m. and the doors to the school open that same time. for those students designated to be inside on that particular week (K-6 are inside and outside on alternating weeks). Prior to 8:15 a.m. students are not permitted in the school.

After school supervision runs from 3:00 – 3:20, after which any students who have not yet been picked up are expected to be with an older sibling outside or other arrangements need to be made by the family. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our School Administration.

Halloween Protocols

Much like everything else during these unusual times, while we are still excited to be able to celebrate Halloween with our students, it is going to look different this year so please read on.

Candy, cards and other food items – please do NOT send in candy and other items to be shared amongst students. Your child’s teacher will share with you a suggested “Halloween supply list” which will provide some ideas on food, treats and snacks for your own child. Unfortunately we will NOT be able to permit students to exchange candy and cards amongst each other this year

Lost and Found

With the colder days now having arrived, we are seeing more toques, mitts, gloves and scarves come our way. Please ask your child to check the lost and found in the office whenever they’ve misplaced an item as these are donated to a local charity each Monday. We will do our best to post pictures to Facebook but with the amount of items being collected it’s not always possible.

That’s it for now! Thank you for your continued support. We’ve had a great start and are looking forward to an awesome wrap up to November.

Until next time

Mr. S. Patras

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Picture Day, PTI’s, Orange Shirt Day and So Much More at EMHS!

As we wrap up September and are quickly approaching October there is much going on at Ecole Meridian Heights School! Please read on to learn more.

Orange Shirt Day – Wednesday, September 30th

Ecole Meridian Heights School will once again be supporting Orange Shirt day by encouraging all students and staff to wear an Orange Shirt on Wednesday. You can learn more of the story behind this initiative by watching this short Video from Phyllis Webstad.

Picture Day – Wednesday October 6th and Thursday, October 7th

We will be having our school pictures on Wednesday October 6th and Thursday, October 7th. For those students currently attending the school for in person learning, pictures will proceed similar to previous years, with additional protocols in place. Some of these protocols are social distancing, students in grades 4-9 wearing masks to the small gym, photographers wearing masks throughout, and fewer students at a time going for pictures. All students will have their photo taken on Wednesday, with Thursday being available for those students who are not in school on Wednesday.

For our students participating in the teacher supported online learning program, if you would like your child to have their picture taken at the school you must complete this form. Additional information such as scheduling, entering and exiting the school etc. will be provided later in the week. Pictures for our online learners will be taken on Thursday, October 7th.

Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences – Wednesday, October 14th and Thursday, October 15th

For our in person learners, our conferences will be held virtually this year in order to continue to minimize the number of guests within our school. Your child’s teacher will provide instructions on how to sign up for an online interview time later this week.

For our Teacher Supported At Home Learners, more information will be coming soon on when these interviews will be taking place. Please stay tuned 🙂

Ecole Meridian Heights School Code of Conduct

As you can imagine, supporting positive behavior for over 600 kids ranging in age from 5 to 14 requires a lot of teamwork and cooperation between staff, students and our parents. While teachers reviewed student expectations at the start of the year and continue to do so throughout the year as necessary, we would ask you to please review the Code of Conduct with your child at home. It contains information on our expectations around appropriate behavior during class, recess and before and after school as well as information on our dress code, technology policies and much more.

Should you have any questions about our Code of Conduct, please do not hesitate to reach out to any member of our administration.

Daily Self-Screening

Thank you so much for your efforts to continue to keep all of our students safe during these unusual times. Please continue to support us at the school by completing the Covid 19 Screening Questionnaire each day prior to sending your child to school.

That’s a lot to take in, so thank you so much for making the time to know what’s happening in our learning community.

Stay well,

Mr. S. Patras

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A few Updates from Ecole Meridian Heights School

As we roll through our 4th week of in person learning at Ecole Meridian Heights School there’s much to share. We have some important information on our COVID 19 protocols that we want to ensure our families are aware of.

COVID Protocols – Updates

Daily Screening

We appreciate our parents taking the time to complete the COVID 19 Daily Screening Questionnaire with each of their children. Ensuring our kids are arriving to us without symptoms allows us all to work together to keep all staff and students safe, and reduces the likelihood that parents will receive a call during the day to come pick up their child if he/she is presenting with symptoms. Thank you for continuing to ensure you complete this Questionnaire.

What to do if your child is sick…

Parkland School Division has done a wonderful job summarizing what to do if your child is sick in this short article. Please take a moment to give it a quick read.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions

In order to minimize the amount of time that your child needs to be away from school if he/she should show symptoms consistent with Covid 19, we encourage all families of students with pre-existing conditions (e.g. asthma, allergies etc.) to complete the Pre-existing Medical Conditions form. Having this on file with the associated documentation, including a Negative Covid Declaration form and a doctor’s note or other supporting information will often help to get your child back to school sooner if his/her symptoms are a result of the pre-existing condition.

Keep your eyes out for the next post which will touch on many of the events underway or coming soon at EMHS!

Stay well,

Mr. S. Patras

 

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Reflections and Revisions at Ecole Meridian Heights School

I hope that all of our families are taking some time to enjoy a well deserved break this weekend after a busy start! It’s been a school start like none ever before!!  It’s been wonderful to see our kids “smiling eyes” as many are wearing masks when I get to see them in classrooms and hallways.

While our current protocols such as staggered entry in the morning and staggered exit after schools, as well as our staggered recesses etc. have been effective in promoting physical distancing we are now at a place where we can refine some of our protocols so please read on.

Revised Entry Times for Students Walking To/From School and or Those Being Picked up/Dropped OfF

Our previous timeframe of 8:40 a.m. – 8:55 a.m. for students walking or being dropped off is now being shortened as we have not observed any issues with hallway congestion thus far. We are now asking students being dropped off or walking to arrive between 8:40 a.m. and 8:50. They will still be entering the school at the main, front door entrance during this timeframe. We will be taking attendance immediately following.

Students walking home after school and/or being picked up will also see a revised timeline as we have been able to load our buses quite efficiently at the end of the day. Students will now be released from their classrooms at approximately 3:06 when our final bell rings.  Should we require any additional changes to these times we will be certain to communicate them to you.

Process for Students Displaying Symptoms of Covid 19 While at Home

We are truly appreciative of the amazing level of cooperation and support we’ve had from our parents when students have been displaying symptoms of Covid 19 at school and home.  Working together we continue to minimize the risk for all of our school community.

It is imperative that our families continue to complete the Covid 19 Screening Questionnaire at home each day prior to arriving at school. We appreciate those of you who have proactively identified symptoms and kept your children home. We would ask that when you do so, you communicate your child’s symptoms and absence directly to our office either with an email to meridian@psd70.ab.ca or a phone call at 780-963-2289. Very clear directions on what to do if your child demonstrates symptoms at home can be found in this article “Feeling Sick? Here’s What to Do” on our school website. Additionally you would be directed to complete the Covid 19 Self-Assessment Tool. 

Prior to your child returning to school, you must contact the school and speak with an administrator or member of our office staff to confirm their eligibility to attend. At that time, if your child is eligible to return to school you will be required to complete the Declaration for Return to School.  If you are unsure of what is required, please do not hesitate to contact our school office.

Process for Students Displaying Symptoms of Covid 19 While at School

If a student is observed by a staff member (or self-reports) any symptom of Covid 19 they will be referred to the office and assessed. In the office they will be required to wear a mask (where possible) and will be isolated.  A member of our administration will speak to them to learn about any/all potential symptoms.

Parents will be called to pick their child up as soon as is possible. Parents will be directed to complete the online COVID 19 Self Assessment Additionally, depending on symptoms presenting, parents will be instructed to either have their child remain at home until the symptoms resolve, OR parents will be directed to have their child self-isolate for 10 days or until symptoms resolve (whichever is longer) or until they have received a negative Covid 19 test result. At that time, they are required to contact the school to arrange for the return of their child to school and to sign the Declaration for Return to School.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If a student has symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat or runny nose, that student MUST self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms and until the symptoms have resolved (whichever is longer) according to AHS
directives.

If your child has an underlying medical condition such as allergies, asthma or anxiety that
present symptoms similar to COVID-19, there are steps to follow to notify the school which will give us a process to follow so your child does not necessarily have to isolate for ten days.

Please complete this Pre-existing Medical Conditions Form  for your child and return it to the school.  I apologize for the duplication of efforts, but would ask that this form be completed for any students at Ecole Meridian Heights School who have pre-existing conditions even if those conditions have already been provided to the school through email or a phone call. This will allow us to centralize our information and ensure consistency and accuracy.

If a student with a pre-existing condition (and appropriate documentation has been submitted) displays symptoms, they will be sent to the office in most cases at which time their symptoms will be assessed. If these symptoms are in accordance with those on file for pre-existing conditions the student will be returned to class if they are healthy enough to do so. If symptoms escalate from the baseline, or new symptoms present, the same process as outlined above for students displaying symptoms of Covid 19 will be applied.

Thank you for indulging me in such a long email, and for your continued support.

Until next time,

Mr. S. Patras

 

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The First Day(s) Are Done… What Now?

Despite staggering our entry to school over the past two days, it was still a whirlwind of activity and energy! It was fantastic to see our kids in person once again, and they were so pleased to be with their classmates after a long absence. I can’t imagine how excited many of them will be for Wednesday when everyone returns for our first day together!

Walking and Drop Off Students

Thank you to all of our parents who were able to walk their kids to school or to drop them off after 8:40 a.m. and also thank you to all of you who were so gracious and allowed our staff to escort your kids to their classrooms.

Protocols

In addition to meeting their teachers, Educational Assistants and friends, students began to learn the many new protocols in place to keep them and our staff as safe as possible this year. Teachers supported them in learning appropriate handwashing and hand sanitizing (“hanitizing” as some of our little ones call it) techniques, when to wear masks (for those in gr 4-9), recess spaces and much more. While it will take some ongoing conversation and teaching, our kids were extremely receptive to the information. Thank you so much for the preparations that so many of you undertook at home!

Masks

All students in grades K-4 have been provided their government issued masks. Additionally, all students in grades 5-9 were encouraged to task their masks. If your child chose not to take his/her masks and you would like him/her to receive them please reach out directly to his/her teacher and we will ensure they are sent home. If you have any questions about this please do not hesitate to contact our school office.

Self Screening Questionnaire 

As a gentle reminder, please ensure that you are using the AHS Self Screening Questionnaire which can be found on our school website each day with your child. Your diligence in this important task is one more way that we can work together to keep our school safe.

Pre-existing Health Conditions

Thank you to those parents who have already reached out to confirm their children’s pre-existing medical conditions which may present with symptoms similar to COVID 19. If you have not yet shared this information with us I would ask you to please call the office a.s.a.p. Additionally, if your child has a pre-existing condition, it is strongly recommended that you have your child tested for COVID 19.

Student Pick Up/Walking Home After School

As mentioned in a previous post, students who are being picked up or are walking home after school are dismissed after all bussed students. This would mean that they will be exiting the building at approximately 3:15 p.m. We will continue to monitor this dismissal process and inform you of any changes to this time.

Additionally, in order to reduce congestion in front of the school, we are asking that any students waiting for friends find an alternate, pre-arranged meeting point away from the front of the school to meet. The baseball diamond, hockey rink and picnic tables are a few possible locations for this.

Finally, for those families who have an older sibling meeting a younger sibling to walk home together, please work with your children to establish a meeting point as they may be exiting the building from different doors. Siblings should not be moving through the school trying to find each other but rather outside at a predetermined location that they both know.

Thank you to all of our students, parents and staff for a fantastic start to the year. We are looking forward to seeing all of our kids tomorrow morning.

Mr. S. Patras

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A “Sneak Peek” of Ecole Meridian Heights School and At Home Learning Information

Well, we are almost there! In just a few days we will be welcoming back so many of our students to Ecole Meridian Heights School and we are really excited. While many of our processes and procedures will be very different to start the year, we know that the most important pieces of our work have not changed. Doing everything we can to support your child’s and our staff’s safety and well being, and re-establishing those caring and supportive relationships will be at the forefront of our efforts next week!

Many of you have reached out recently asking if you are able to come into the school with your child and/or to see your child’s classroom space. While we can’t accommodate guests into our school at this time, we can do our best to try to show you some classroom and common area spaces.

Pictures of our School

Instead of creating a massively long post with many images like the one below, I’ve posted pictures of our school, including a Kindergarten, Gr 2, Gr 4 and Gr 8 classroom, our hallways, entrance and much more on my twitter account so please take a look here. Be sure to scroll down to see the pictures. Click on the image to see with more detail and clarity 🙂

Teacher Supported At Home Learning

Thank you to all of our parents who’ve been so patiently awaiting more information for this program. As you are likely aware, approximately a week ago PSD Deputy Superintendent Mark Francis sent out a message informing families that this programming will be starting on Tuesday, September 8th.

What we know now is that your child’s teacher will be reaching out to you next Wednesday, Sept 2nd or Thursday Sept 3rd to introduce themselves. At that time they will provide more information on supplies, schedules and much more.

As always, please continue to reach out with questions that arise. While it can take a bit of time for us to be able to work through all of these, while simultaneously preparing for your kids (and working with them starting next week) we will be certain to respond as promptly as possible.

We look forward to seeing our kids in person on Monday and online Tuesday, September 8th. Have a wonderful weekend.

Mr. S. Patras

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Preparing for our First Day of In Person Learning at EMHS

Hello parents,

Thank you for your patience as we continue to work with our teachers preparing for your kids’ return to Ecole Meridian Heights School next week. If you have had the opportunity to review our Parent Re-Entry Handbook you will have learned about our staggered recesses and school arrival and departure processes (if you have not yet been able to do so, I will summarize these processes near the end of this post); however the handbook does not address our procedures for the first two staggered entry days.

Staggered Entry Dates

As a reminder, all students whose last names start with the letter A-K will attend on Monday, August 31st with all students whose last names start with the letter L-Z attending on Tuesday, September 1st. All Ecole Meridian Heights School students will be attending on Wednesday, September 2nd.

Teacher Welcome Letter

You will have received a welcome back email from your child’s teacher either today (Thursday) or tomorrow (Friday) which will outline classroom specific procedures such as which door to enter the school from, sanitizing protocols, their picture and much more.

Upon Arrival Monday or Tuesday

When your child arrives at school on Monday or Tuesday, you can expect to see many staff on the front sidewalk of the school wearing our supervision vests and ready to welcome your children back to our school. At that time, we will help your child learn which door they should be entering the school in. If they do not know where their door is, they will be escorted by a staff member to that entrance and into their classroom (if necessary) where their teacher will be waiting to welcome them!

Student Drop Off on the 1st day

If you are dropping your child off at school on the first day, in order to adhere to the EMHS protocols and PSD protocols, you will not be able to enter the school with your child. We realize this is a big change for some of our parents, especially those of our youngest kids, but rest assured that we will help them find their way and make sure they are cared for!

In order to further reduce congestion, if you are able to drop your child off between 8:40 a.m. and 8:55 a.m. it would be much appreciated. For those who are unable to do so, we absolutely understand. We would also ask that when possible if you are dropping your child off please do so on either 43st in front of the school or on 44 Ave beside the school. For some of our younger students who need to be escorted to the front of the school by parents, please ensure you maintain social distancing while doing so. If at all possible, please remain in your car and allow your child to walk to the supervisor at the front of the school where he/she will be assisted. As has always been the case, please do NOT enter the bus lane until after 8:35 a.m. when all buses have departed.

Student Drop off  Procedures after Staggered Entry Days

When possible, please drop your children off between 8:40 a.m. and 8:55 a.m. to reduce congestion. If your child arrives between these times, he/she can enter in the main doors of the school and proceed directly to their class without a late slip as attendance will be taken at 8:55 a.m.

Where possible, please remain in your vehicle when dropping your children off at the school. If they require an escort, please bring them to a supervisor or to the front doors of the school. Parents are not permitted at this time to escort their children to their classrooms.

Student Pick Up Procedures after Staggered Entry Days

All students will be dismissed in stages near the end of the school day to reduce congestion inside and outside of the school. Children walking home or being picked up will be dismissed as the last groups with students with last names A-K exiting at approximately 3:15 p.m. after buses have departed and students with last names L-Z departing at approximately 3:20 p.m. If your child MUST leave prior to that time please indicate this to his/her teacher and we will be happy to accommodate.

When picking up your child, where possible, please remain in your vehicle. If your child needs to be accompanied to your vehicle please come get them from the front of the school while maintaining social distancing.

Please keep your eyes out for the next post coming out which will show pictures of our school and many of the measures being taken!

Mr. S. Patras

 

 

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Sharing More About Our Return To School at Ecole Meridian Heights

With our return to in person learning at Ecole Meridian Heights School just over a week away, I know that there are many questions. I am hopeful that this post will answer a few of these questions. If you have questions that remain, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at spatras@psd70.ab.ca or at the school at 780-963-2289. Working together we can facilitate as smooth of a transition for our students as possible.

This blog post will focus on some of the Physical Distancing measures that will be in place within our school community. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read my previous blog posts on Promoting Healthy Hygiene Practices and Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting Practices, please consider doing so to learn more about our efforts in those areas.

Physical Distancing

Field Trips – no field trips (in school or out of school) will be booked until further notice. At this time we do not see the benefits of these learning opportunities as outweighing the risks of unnecessary travel on school buses and the challenges of social distancing in other environments. Walking field trips within our community (e.g. Rotary Park) will still be considered on a case by case basis. Parents will be informed of these field trips prior to them taking place.

School Assemblies – given our large student population, and the challenges that would pose for social distancing, we will not be hosting in person school assemblies until further notice. The staff at Ecole Meridian Heights School will be exploring how we might host virtual school celebrations in the upcoming months.

School Visitors – in aligning our practice with the PSD Guidance for School Re-Entry Plan , there will be a very strict protocol around school visitors. We will not be inviting presenters into our school until further notice. Additionally, it is imperative that parents report to the office upon entering the school. Should you need to speak to your child, we will bring your child to you. Parents will not be permitted to move throughout the school. We appreciate your support in this change to our school practice.

Hot Lunch – while we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to offer our hot lunch program this year, we will be revisiting how to best facilitate this in October. We appreciate your patience as we work towards sorting this out.

Microwaves and Lunches – Students will NOT be permitted to share lunches with peers. Additionally, microwaves will not be available to start the school year. We appreciate that this will require changes to lunch preparations for our students and we thank you for supporting us in this regard.

Classroom Set Up – in order to facilitate as much space as is possible within our classrooms, all unnecessary furniture has been removed from every classroom. Extra book shelves, tables, searing and furniture etc. has been removed to provide more space within our classrooms.

Additionally, we have been able to put desks in most classes to replace tables, and have spaced these as far apart as is possible. Desks are arranged in rows with all students facing the same direction.

Communal Spaces within EMHS – seating in the front foyer and hallways has been removed (with the exception of two seats in the front entry for parents registering at the office). Additionally, seating throughout the school in the circle and in the basement has been removed at this time. Minimal seating (approx 4 seats) remain in the jr. high “gathering area”.

Altered Routines within the School Day – We will be making significant efforts to reduce the traffic volume within our school hallways throughout the school day. Students will NOT be moving from classroom to classroom. In the past, students would go the music room or students in grades 5-9 may move to a different teacher for FSL or ART, or perhaps Math or Science etc. Teachers will be moving between classrooms as opposed to students.

Upon Arrival At School in the morning– specific processes for student pickup and drop off, as well as for the before school recess, a.m. recess and lunch recess will be coming very soon. Thank you for your patience.

Note: a reminder that school doors will not be open prior to 8:15 a.m. and supervision will not be available prior to that time as outlined in emails last May and June). We are happy to be able to offer Out of School Care for those families who wish to access it. You can learn more on on our school website.

Traffic Flow within the school – students will notice directional arrows in the circle of  our school and in some hallways. In addition, each class or grade level will have a specific, labeled exit and entrance to the school, including using the emergency exit doors within classrooms and portables to reduce the number of students entering in any one place. More information and pictures will be coming soon.

Signage supporting Physical Distancing – students and parents will notice markers within the front foyer to support Physical Distancing. Additionally, signage will be placed at each bathroom indicating capacity.

While there are many more strategies in place to support Physical Distancing, including our procedures for student drop off and pickup and recesses (information coming soon on these), I am hopeful that this gives you just a bit of information about our plans for the return of our students to in person learning.

Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming days 🙂

Sincerely,

Mr. S. Patras

 

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