October 8 – Parent Weekly Update

Good afternoon Connect parents;

As we enter into fall break 2021, and a Thanksgiving weekend, it is definitely a time to reflect on all that our school has accomplished over the last several months and be very thankful, indeed, to be part of a community that has shown vision, determination and resilience to continue moving forward in spite of the ongoing pandemic. Acquisition of the Field Experience Centre and managing to get all our students to the camp this fall is nothing short of remarkable. Even reintroducing extracurricular sports with such enthusiasm is representative of the tenacity and strength that are hallmarks of Connect. All these activities that we would normally take for granted have become somehow very special, and our thanks to all who have made these small steps into giant leaps for the school.

Speaking of small steps and giant leaps, the 2021 edition of the Terry Fox Runs took place on Monday with three separate runs for grades 4-5, 6-7, and 8-9 throughout the day. A beautiful fall day helped to motivate runners over courses that had distances modified for grade levels. 

One of our grade 4 parents captured the many dimensions of the Terry Fox Run this way…

In the few short weeks that our son has become a proud member of the Grade 4 Connect Charter community he has, with enthusiasm, shared his “Daily Report” with us. He came home on Monday glowing with delight while he retold his first Terry Fox experience at Connect. Provincial mile markers and various Cheerleaders were some of the highlights!!! I found my son’s hoodie hanging downstairs with his worn sticker on the back that read “Terry ran for me, so that I could run for My Mom”. During teacher conferences this week his teacher made mention that he requested if it was acceptable to write “My Mom” on his badge…his brilliant teacher’s answer echoed my own, being of course it was OK. Cancer is a part of life, the same as many other health challenges and struggles that people cope with today. Cancer fundraising is full of hope and promise because of people like Terry Fox who, in 1980 dreamed of helping to ease others suffering and to reach Mile 0 in Victoria, BC. Donate so our kids keep cheering for each other and so that our own National Hero is forever honored.  

If you wish to still donate you may access the portal at www.terryfox.ca/ConnectCharter.

COVID-19 Precautions and Update

Proof of Vaccination 

Connect Charter School remains committed to providing a safe environment for it’s students, staff, workers and others who may use our school facilities. On Wednesday, our  Premier announced a vaccination policy for all public service workers and indicated a Ministerial request for school boards to do the same would be forthcoming. I also received a letter from the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health that included the following:

“It’s also clear that the best way to look after each other and to stop the spread of COVID-19 is for every eligible Albertan to get vaccinated. That’s why today’s announcement included a renewed call to all school authorities as employers, and operators of school facilities, to develop policies that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for any adult who enters a school. This would include teachers, staff and parents, but would exclude students. A school authority cannot deny their students access to education due to immunization status.”

 In order to inform our decisions moving forward, Connect Charter School will re-evaluate all options, including a potential COVID-19 vaccination policy. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and the Education Act outline the responsibilities school boards hold related to ensuring the health and safety of the school community. There is no set date for a final decision on this matter. However, as our principal Dr. Butterfield has kept you apprised of in his weekly updates, we continue to follow all Alberta Health Services guidelines and remain committed to a safe school environment. 

Chris Gilmour
Superintendent

Review of Current Protocols

At the beginning of the school year we introduced a school start up plan that included several COVID-19 safety precautions, including:

  • The wearing of masks by all students and staff while in the school building;
  • Daily screening using the modified checklist available online;
  • Frequent and proper handwashing and hand sanitizing;
  • Cohort groups of students;
  • Physical distancing whenever possible;
  • Remain home when symptomatic or sick.

We have also been very grateful to those who voluntarily informed us of their child testing positive for COVID as we were then able to inform parents of their classmates to be extra vigilant for symptoms without needing to quarantine. In light of the current COVID-19 situation, these measures will remain in place until further notice.

In addition, this week Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education reintroduced some further measures intended to stem the fourth wave.  Here is a summary of the new regulations extracted from the AHS website:

Quick facts

  • As of Oct. 4, 84.5 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 75.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.
    • 77.4 per cent of children aged 12 to 14 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination, and 78.4 per cent of those aged 15 to 19.
    • Children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
  • Alberta Health will publicly report the name of each school with at least two COVID-19 cases, categorized by the following:
    • Alert – two to four cases
    • Alert – five to nine cases
    • Outbreak – 10-plus cases
  • An outbreak investigation will be completed by AHS for schools with 10 or more cases within a 14-day period.
  • On an interim basis, school authorities will determine close contacts for students in schools using criteria provided by AHS and will notify families of close contacts in a school setting only.
  • Students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will shift to learning at home if there are three or more infectious cases in the class in a five-day period. Families will be asked to avoid public places, monitor for symptoms and get tested if the student becomes symptomatic, but will not otherwise be required to quarantine.
  • All individuals who have COVID-19 are required to isolate and remain at home for 14 days, regardless of their age.
  • Public health measures remain in place in schools including:
    • Mandatory masking for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades.
    • Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
    • Indoor sports, fitness, recreation and performance activities are permitted in schools, with requirements to maintain two-metre physical distancing where possible.
    • Masks and distancing are not required by youth under age 18 while engaged in physical activity.
    • Students and staff should screen daily for symptoms using the Alberta Health Daily Checklist.
    • Isolate if you have core COVID-19 symptoms or test positive.
    • If there is a case in your child’s class or school, monitor your child closely for symptoms.
    • Follow best practices to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

Bus Conduct and Expectations

While we truly appreciate all those students who use the school buses on a daily basis and demonstrate respect for each other, the bus, and the drivers, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of incidents of bus misconduct being reported to the office lately. The reasons are not entirely clear, but seating plans and mask requirements may be contributing factors. Nonetheless, it is vital that students riding the bus exercise control and emotional self-regulation to avoid making poor choices such as standing up and moving while the bus is in motion, removing their masks, or throwing objects and food around the bus or out the windows. Each bus has a seating plan that must be adhered to as part of the COVID plan, regardless of what empty seats there may be on the bus. If your child rides the school bus, please remind them of these expectations prior to our return from fall break. Riding the bus is a privilege, not a right, and those who repeatedly engage in disrespectful behaviour will be suspended from the bus for a period of time. 

iPads going home for fall break

Although it is extremely unlikely that our school will need to close due to COVID-19 following fall break, we will be having students take their device and charger home with them on Friday October 8th as a precaution only. All student devices will be remotely deactivated so students cannot access the apps, however some teachers have asked for minimal and targeted access to some apps (i.e.- Sora for the e-reader function) and David Cloutier will be accommodating these requests.

Tech video for parents

An orientation to technology at Connect is available on video at

drive.google.com/file/d/1FqEXO114YeayAzVLNLnIA3GG1W6I1jE0/view?usp=sharing

This will be particularly useful for parents who may be new to the school, or as a refresher.

Spirit Wear/School Store

It’s that time of year again to show your school spirit. Our store will open on October 8th and will remain open until the end of day October 29th.  Expected delivery for all items will be approximately November 19th.  

We have added some great new items, so be sure to check out all the tabs.

Shop early for Christmas.

Please note some items are a limited time offer so get them while you can!

Below is the link to access the store 

store.kodiaksports.ca/stores/connect-school 

Go Connect!!!!

Important Dates:

October 11-15 Fall Break

October 18 Classes resume

October 22 PD/Non-instructional Day – no classes

Note: The next parent update will be sent out on Sunday October 17th, however if there are significant updates relating to COVID-19 public health measures, we will notify parents as soon as practicable. 

Have a wonderful long weekend and fall break.

Phil Butterfield
Principal