It’s hard to believe that we are almost ready to welcome back our students and families for another school year! I hope that each of you have had the opportunity to rest, relax and recharge as we prepare for the upcoming year.
As a parent of two PSD students myself, I know that there are many questions about how things are going to look for our kids upon their return in just a few short weeks. I strongly encourage all of our families to examine the Parkland School Division plan on their website and to review the Guidance for Re-Entry – Principal’s Handbook which has detailed information on all protocols to be put in place.
At Ecole Meridian Heights School many of our previous COVID protocols will remain in place as we begin this year; however we are able to make some adjustments to our practices based on the current context we are operating within. Below you will find information that clarifies a few of the protocols within the Principal’s Handbook and how they will look at EMHS as we begin the school year. These are, however certainly not all of the pieces in place so please refer to the Principal’s Handbook for further information.
Promoting Healthy Hygiene Practices
While EMHS will, of course, be implementing all protocols within the Principal’s Handbook, our students will support healthy hygiene by washing and sanitizing their hands throughout the day. There will be hand sanitizer available in all classrooms however we would also ask that parents send individual hand sanitizer with their children to be used throughout the day. In addition, we would encourage parents to send a water bottle with students to be filled at our stations throughout the day as opposed to using the water fountains.
Similar to last year, we would ask all parents to please complete the COVID 19 Alberta Health Daily Checklist with their child before each school day. If you have already submitted a pre-existing medical conditions form there is no need to do one again; however, if your child has developed any new conditions or you did not complete this form last year, we would ask you to do so prior to the start of this school year.
Responding to Illness
Similar to last year, we would ask that if your child is displaying symptoms of COVID 19 please do not send them to school. If your child develops any symptoms of COVID while at school he/she will be brought down to the office and asked to wait in the infirmary to be picked up by a parent/guardian. Wearing a mask while coming to the office and in the infirmary will be encouraged but is not mandated.
Again similar to last year, we will be using cohorts at EMHS this school year, however they will look somewhat different. Given the context last year, student cohorts were only within their homeroom classroom. We received several requests from students and parents to expand these cohorts to include all peers within a grade level. We are currently working on how this might look and will get this information out to everyone as soon as it is ready. Thank you for your patience.
Similar to last year, we will be limiting the number of guests within our school. As such, parents are asked to report to the office upon their arrival at school, but are not permitted to travel throughout the school. Should you need to see your child, we will be happy to bring them to you in the office.
Desks and tables will be spaced as much as is possible within classroom spaces. In addition, we will continue to use multiple entrances and exits in the school to limit congestion within our hallways to the greatest degree possible.
Drop off and Pick Up
With students using multiple entrances and significantly reducing hallway congestion, we will no longer be asking parents who drop students off or those students who walk to arrive slightly later. We would ask that students walking or being dropped off to arrive at school at the same time as those being bussed, 8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Masks will be strongly recommended for students (as is developmentally appropriate) at EMHS when in common areas and when appropriate distancing cannot be maintained (2m) but masks are not mandated. Students in K-3 will be encouraged to wear masks if they chose to do so and are able to use a mask properly; however, again masks are not mandated for this group.
Parents are encouraged to wear a mask when entering the school to report to the office but it is not required.
Situations may arise in which masks will be required within the school. For example when multiple students are working at a single cooking station in our kitchen for an extended period of time (approx 15 minutes or more) and cannot maintain adequate distancing. With this in mind, students must have access to a mask, should it be necessary. I encourage parents to reach out to me at the school to discuss any questions you may have around the PSD Masking expectations and how they will be adhered to at EMHS.
All students will be required to wear masks while on school buses, including on field trips that may occur throughout the year.
Hot Lunch and the Breakfast Program
The Breakfast program will remain in place for those students who need this service. Distancing will be maintained and all surfaces will be cleaned before and after eating.
Hot lunch will resume this year at EMHS as we move through September/October. More details will come in the upcoming weeks.
Extracurricular Sports and Activities
We will continue to offer extracurricular opportunities to our students as they become available. As we learn more about X-Country running to start the year we will send this information out. We will work together with Mrs. Huedepohl to determine how and when Magic Voices may be able to resume their wonderful work together!
As we learn more from Alberta Health Services about temporary clinics that may be set up in schools we will be certain to communicate this information to our parent community. EMHS students WILL NOT be vaccinated at school without written parental consent forms being completed prior.
As there are many more protocols in place to mitigate the risks posed by COVID 19 to our students and staff please do not hesitate to reach out to me at the school with any questions you may have.
The safety of all members of our school community is at the forefront of all we do. Working together we can help our students focus on a safe and fun return to school with friendships and laughter.
Mr. S. Patras
Principal, Ecole Meridian Heights School