January 7, 2022 – Parent Update

Good afternoon Connect parents…and a belated welcome back to everyone. As you can see from the photo above, our Field Experience Centre trail cameras recorded a few visitors over winter break. With the polar vortex that descended on our region, it is understandable that Santa might think he was back at the North Pole.

We are looking forward to seeing our students on Monday morning and have spent this week preparing for their return and planning for the possibility of shifting to online learning if our resources become stretched too thin or if we are directed to do so by Alberta Education. The emergence and proliferation of the Omicron variant over the past few weeks has introduced new dimensions in our efforts to protect students and staff from contracting the virus. The speed of transmission and rate of infection have led to reinforcement from AHS on the importance of wearing masks that provide adequate protection from airborne particles and maintaining physical distance whenever possible. Our resolve to keep our school community healthy is no less robust than it was in March 2020 and we look forward to the continuing support and understanding of parents and students as we continue implementation of these health and safety measures.

One question that has been raised concerns instructional time that has been missed due to the government mandated extended winter break and whether the missed days will need to be made up at a later time in the school year. Our timetable has consistently exceeded the  950 hours per year of instruction recommended by Alberta Education. Typically we are approximately 50 hours per year over that target. In addition, we have not been able to run our elective program due to cohorting and COVID restrictions. The instructional time allotted for electives is frequently used by teachers for academic reinforcement and additional core instruction.  At this point we do not anticipate a directive from Alberta Education to extend or adjust the school year in any way, however if that does happen we will make the necessary adjustments.

Return to school

On Wednesday January 5th, Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange announced that all K-12 students in Alberta would return to in-person learning on January 10th. The news release may be viewed at www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=81695BC01F3A2-FCDD-B660-8693473704E81BE1 

On Monday morning our teachers and support staff will be spending time reviewing COVID protocols and safety measures with students. A condensed version of the slides they will use to guide this discussion is attached here for your reference (connectcharter.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Parent-Copy-COVID-19-Safety-Protocol-January-2022.pdf)  Many of the protocols will be familiar: 

Masks

  • Masks must be worn when inside the school building or any building at the FEC; 
  • Masks must cover the nose and mouth and be made of material prescribed by AHS (www.alberta.ca/masks.aspx);
  • We are anticipating a delivery of medical grade masks from the government next week. At this point we have no specific details of what type of masks these are but they will be available in both child and adult sizes. Use of these particular masks will be optional;

Daily Screening

  • Daily screening will be required for all students and staff. We anticipate the AHS daily screening tool may be amended to reflect the symptoms of the Omicron variant  and we will update our screening tool at that time;

Designated Entrances/Exits

  • Students must use the entrance/exit door designated for their grade. Doors will be open at 8:20am;

Cohorts

  • Cohorts will be maintained and for the next few weeks we will revert to students staying in their homeroom classes and core teachers moving between classes. The exception will be students moving to art, music, creative tech, phys ed and DPA;
  • Physical distancing will be reinforced;
  • Hand sanitizing and hand washing will be emphasized;

Rapid Antigen Testing

Absenteeism and Isolation Requirements (www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx

Effective January 3, Albertans are legally required to isolate as outlined below:

  • Fully vaccinated (2 doses or 1 dose Janssen): Isolate for 5 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing condition. For 5 days following isolation, wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home.
  • Not fully vaccinated (1 dose or less): Isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing condition.
  • If you test negative and have symptoms, you should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.
  • The first bullet above may be problematic for students returning to school after 5 days isolation if they are required to wear a mask at all times when around others and are therefore unable to eat or drink. We ask parents to use their discretion in such situations. It may be preferable to keep a child home for the additional 5 days as we anticipate not having enough unoccupied spaces for students to remove their mask to eat lunch.

And in other news…

Parent Webinars

Our series of parent webinars will be getting underway this month. Overviews of the first two sessions are below: 

January 19  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Executive Functioning

Mr. Les Redick will present the latest on executive functioning and ADHD. 

Parents are led through a discussion of how ADHD presents itself from early elementary school through to adulthood. Parents are shown what ADHD looks like at home and how it may look different at school. Parents are given strategies on how to manage ADHD at home and how to support teachers in the classroom. 

As a parent of a severe ADHD child, Mr. Redick will share personal experiences as he speaks to topics like: Time Blindness, Poor Social Skills, Emotional Outbursts, Homework Issues, Poor Problem Solving/Time Management, Drug Use and Medications. 

February 2, 2022 Centre for Sexuality 

Family, friends, and parents play an important role in the lives of children and youth who are 2S/LGBTQ+. Research shows that gender and sexually diverse youth experience improved health and well-being when supported by the adults in their lives. This workshop will increase participants’ knowledge and awareness of gender and sexual diversity including the differences between sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Participants will be given practical tools and resources to build comfort and skill in supporting and affirming 2S/LGBTQ+ children and youth.

Feb 2 – Lunch and Learn Webinar (12:00 – 1:00 PM): 

us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErfuGgqT8tH9f982-B6-NXxc9lz5gxSSYd

Feb 2 – Participatory Evening Workshop (6:30 – 8:00 PM): 

us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwscO-tqT4rE9RZex3TlQwUQkZQXUusAk7n

Winter Camp      

At the present time we are planning to proceed with our winter day camps beginning on January 17th. The camp schedule is available on the school calendar at connectcharter.ca/calendar/. Specific details will be sent out by each pod team along with a call for parent volunteers. We added a bus to each trip to ensure there is adequate physical space available for cohorts of students in transit to and from the FEC.    

Fun lunch

Due to the uncertainty of school re-entry, fun lunches and fun snacks were cancelled for last week as well as January 12th and 14th. Refunds will be issued to all those who had purchased fun lunches and fun snacks that were cancelled. The fun lunch program will resume on Wednesday January 19th.

Important dates

Calendar connectcharter.ca/calendar/ 

January 17-March 8 Winter day camps (see calendar)

January 19 6:30-8pm Parent Webinar – ADHD and Executive Functioning

January 25 6:30-8pm New parent orientation for prospective grade 4 parents

February 2 6:30-8pm Parent Webinar – Centre for Sexuality (see above)

Thank you for your support, understanding, and cooperation as we find our way through another phase of this pandemic.

Phil Butterfield
Principal