Despite the fact that we are still a few weeks away from the return of our students to Ecole Meridian Heights School, you can be assured that we are working diligently to create the conditions necessary for the most safe return to school for our staff and students as is possible. As you can appreciate, there is much work to be done, and many questions to be answered. Further complicating our work is the ever growing research and new information around COVID 19 and its impact on our return to school. We truly appreciate your patience and support as we work on our return to school at Ecole Meridian Heights.
As you are likely aware, the Alberta Government has provided many documents relevant to our return to school, including the 2020-2021 school re-entry plan. In addition, Parkland School Division is currently working on our specific return to school plan which will align with the expectations from Alberta Education. The implementation of these guidelines will most likely look somewhat different within different school contexts. As such, it is my intention to try to provide information and updates in the upcoming days and weeks on how these plans will be implemented at Ecole Meridian Heights School.
Because there is much to share, each post will address one of the Practices as outlined within the re-entry plan. Today’s post will be focused on Promoting Healthy Hygiene Practices for our students and staff.
Handwashing, Coughing, Sneezing
- Staff will teach and reinforce with students consistently throughout the first weeks of school (and as required moving forward) proper handwashing, coughing and sneezing techniques. Posters will be displayed in washrooms and at all sinks throughout the school to support proper handwashing techniques. You can help us here by working with your children on this at home prior to their arrival.
- All students in grades 4-9 will be provided 2 re-usable masks on the first day of school. Students are welcome to wear an alternate mask provided by parents as long as it appropriately covers the nose and mouth. The mask needs to fully cover your face from the nose (above the nostrils) to the chin and be worn without gaps between
the mask and face. You can learn more about types of masks, caring for your mask etc. in this document provided by the Alberta Government.
- Students are asked to bring a ziplock bag labeled with their name to place their mask in when it’s not being used.
- Students in grades 4-9 will wear masks and will be reminded to ensure that their nose and mouth is covered while wearing the masks. Students in K-3 will be supported by staff should they choose to wear a mask.
- Masks will be worn by students in grades 4-9 in all common areas (e.g. our hallways, jr. high gathering area, bathrooms etc.) and when instructed to within the classroom based on the learning activity taking place. Masks will not be mandatory within the classroom at all times. Teachers will indicate to students when masks may be required within the classroom environment. You can learn more about mask usage within our school in this document.
- Should a student forget or lose their mask, or should their mask be damaged, a temporary mask will be provided to the student so that parents do not have to come to the school.
- In order to help your child get used to wearing a mask, you may consider having them wear a mask for a short period of time each day. If you are in Edmonton or other locations that require mask usage, consider bringing your child with you. This will allow them an authentic opportunity to practice wearing their mask and will provide them with an opportunity to see others doing so as well.
- As outlined in the various re-launch documents and guides, hand sanitizer will be available at our main public entrance and in each classroom. As kids enter the school and proceed to their classroom they will be instructed to sanitize their hands before entering. We would encourage students to have their own personal sanitizer as a matter of convenience. Students may wish to sanitize their hands when outside at recess or may prefer to use their personal sanitizer prior to putting on their masks, as opposed to leaving their desk and going to the washroom to wash their hands or to leaving their desk to go to the sanitizer within the classroom.
- Students will be expected to sanitize their hands upon leaving and entering any classroom or other instructional space such as the gym
- Parents who enter the building will be expected to sanitize their hands upon arrival and report directly to the office. Parents will not be permitted to move throughout the school. Should a parent need to see their child, we will bring the child to the office. Thank you in advance for supporting us with this practice as we know it represents a change from our current practice.
- Appropriate hand washing techniques will be reinforced to students consistently within the first weeks of school by classroom teachers and support staff. Additionally, hand washing posters will be displayed in every bathroom and near the sinks throughout the school.
- All sinks within the school will have soap and paper towels, increasing the number of spaces that students can access to wash their hands. We have sinks within the “loop” of our school and within several classrooms that will be available for student use.
- While it will take planning and time, teachers will ensure they provide time for students to wash their hands after activities such as recess, lunch, physical education etc. We will have several strategies in place to make this process as smooth as is possible under the circumstances. For example, staggered entry times, various entrances, use of classroom sinks (where possible) are just a few of the ways in which we will manage handwashing for our students.
- We strongly encourage students to bring their own water bottle to be used and filled throughout the day, as opposed to using the water fountain. This will reduce the need for students to leave their classroom.
While there is much more I could share regarding our efforts to supporting Healthy Hygiene Practices for our students, I hope this provides you with a bit of information on how the staff at Ecole Meridian Heights School will work in this practice. Additionally, I would encourage you to continue to support these same practices at home (e.g. proper handwashing, coughing and sneezing techniques) in order to facilitate a smooth transition to school for your children. Working together we can help our kids build these new habits.
Please keep your eyes out for my next post, which will touch on Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting within Ecole Meridian Heights School.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.