January 14, 2022 – Parent Update

Good afternoon Connect parents;

The trails at the FEC are busy after dark when there is no one around. This cow moose was making her rounds near the campfire area overlooking the wetland. These are very shy critters who seek the solitude of the surrounding hills and marshlands during the day or when people are around. We’re fortunate to be able to get these photos from the cameras located around the camp. Students participating in winter camp will learn more about the placement of the trail cameras and check the images captured on the SD cards as part of the winter program.

As students unloaded from buses and cars on Monday morning, we were delighted to see them, but there was no small amount of trepidation among students and staff alike as to what school would look like under the influence of the Omicron variant. I have no doubt that for many parents it was a difficult decision to send your child back to school in the face of uncertainty about the potential effects of the new virus strain. Weighing the undeniable benefits of having kids in school against the potential for rapid spread of the virus is an anxiety inducing recipe for many people and we try to be sensitive to the diverse perspectives parents may hold. Add to that a number of changes to procedures for reporting and tracking  positive cases, as well as to quarantine and isolation requirements, and it is fair to say this has been a week of confusion and creative problem solving.  

It bears reinforcing that when the school leadership team makes decisions, we are acutely aware that our directives will have varying effects on 624 students and 55 staff members. There really is only one effect that lies at the center of those decisions, though…and that is whether our chosen path is going to be the best one to reduce transmission of the virus and protect our community. I know this sounds like the worst kind of ear worm on your playlist – that noise that plays over and over, repeating our mantra to keep everyone healthy. Almost two years into this pandemic, we are still singing that same song, with no less commitment than in March 2020, but with a great deal more fatigue. We welcome constructive feedback and suggestions that take into consideration the greatest good of our entire school community. 

We understand that these are emotional times with widely disparate views. For those who respond to our decisions with messages of frustration and anger, as a few of you have, please take a moment to consider that our first priority (after the health and safety commitment) is to provide your children with the most engaging, high quality, and dynamic education they can possibly experience. That is what we do exceptionally well, and with a tremendous amount of pride… making decisions driven by a public health emergency to cancel events and postpone activities such as sports and electives is not what any of us at Connect take any pleasure in. We are all looking forward to the day when we can reintroduce the paused  elements of our program, and I sincerely hope Omicron is the last kick…whoever thought we would look forward to an endemic as an improvement over a pandemic.

COVID-19 Update

Masks and Rapid Antigen Test Delivery

We have not received the shipment of masks and Rapid Antigen Test expected this week from the government. We have also endeavoured to purchase our own supply of masks and RATs (and have been trying since before winter break) without success. As soon as these items are available, they will be distributed to students and parents will be notified.

Families are still able to provide their own masks, but AHS guidance states: If non-medical masks are worn, they should be constructed of at least three layers: two of breathable, tightly woven fabric such as cotton, and an additional effective middle filter layer, such as non-woven polypropylene.

Reporting and  Monitoring of Positive Cases

At the present time access to COVID-19 testing has been severely reduced, leaving us to rely on Rapid Antigen Tests, when they are available, and more predominantly on the presence of symptoms, to identify COVID-19. In addition, AHS no longer provides contact tracing to schools so we do not have verifiable data on the number of positive cases within our student population. We would greatly appreciate it if you would notify the office if your child is COVID positive, either by PCR, rapid test, or symptoms. 

Reporting Student Absences

Due to the variability of diagnostic tools and the lack of a mandated requirement to report positive cases, we will no longer be notifying the parents of classes or pods when a student is reported to be positive for COVID. We still request that parents notify the office and homeroom teachers when a positive result is obtained in order to keep our records as accurate as possible. 

We have noted an increasing trend of absenteeism among students over the course of the week and are monitoring this trend very closely. We will continue to share these trends with our parent population in the coming weeks. At the present time our staffing levels remain relatively stable.  The nature and rapid transmission of Omicron requires that parents and guardians be vigilant in monitoring children for symptoms and refer to the requirements below if symptoms emerge. 

Daily Screening

It is required by the Alberta Government that adults or children who access the school for work or education, are expected to self-screen for symptoms each day that they enter the school using the checklist provided digitally for each student. Anyone who reports symptoms should stay home, seek health care advice as appropriate (e.g., call Health Link 811, or their primary health care practitioner, or 911 for emergency response), and fill out the AHS Online Self-Assessment tool to determine if they should access a PCR test. If a PCR test is not recommended they may conduct a rapid antigen test. For more information refer to the rapid testing at home website.

Isolation and Quarantine Requirements www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx#requirements 

Definition of a ‘household contact’: a person who lives in the same residence as the case OR who has been in frequent, long-duration, close-range interaction with a case of COVID-19. For example, someone who slept over, attended a birthday party or someone who was a play date with a case.

Isolation helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people you could infect if you have symptoms or test positive by staying home and avoiding others. 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.

Quarantine limits potential spread from people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but have not yet developed symptoms or tested positive.

  • Close contacts of positive cases are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days.
  • Close contacts of positive cases are not required to quarantine, but should:

Winter camp 

The modified winter camp schedule beginning on Monday has been further adjusted with a switch of days between the grade 7 pods. Please check this version to confirm your child’s camp date.  We will be closely monitoring COVID cases and may have to make further adjustments along the way. Informed consent forms are available for signing in PowerSchool. If you are interested in volunteering on your child’s winter camp, contact their homeroom teacher. All volunteers will require a current security clearance check. Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR or rapid test administered within 72 hours prior to the trip are required for all volunteers who will be entering any building, including the buildings at the Field Experience Centre.  

Parent Webinars

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

January 19  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Executive Functioning (Note: the Zoom link for this webinar will be sent by email to the parent community on the afternoon of Wednesday January 19th)

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

Parent Society and School Council

Regular meetings of Parent Society and School Council will take place on Tuesday February 15th at 6:30pm and 7pm respectively. The meetings tentatively scheduled for January 18th will not take place.

Upcoming Events

Coming soon, the Connect Charter Parent Society will launch our first-ever 50/50 CASH Raffle! The jackpot could reach $10,000 for the winner – how great is that? Tickets will be available online and can be purchased by any and all friends of the Connect Charter community, so be sure to share the links when we go live. All proceeds from the raffle will support educational initiatives and equipment purchases for our school. Stay tuned for details!

SKIP THE DEPOT

Do you have a garage full of bottles from the extended holiday break? Skip the Deport is a home recycling pick up service that donates 70% of returns to registered charities. Sign up and select Connect Charter School Council as your beneficiary. They also pick up used clothing and electronics, for free! skipthedepot.com

Fun lunch resumes

Fun lunch and fun snack will resume next Wednesday. Future interruptions in the program may occur depending on the pandemic circumstances and we will try to give parents as much notice as possible if that is the case.

Pink Shirt Day

Pink Shirt Day will take place on Wednesday February 23, 2022 www.pinktshirtday.ca 

In solidarity on this day the Connect Charter Community wears Pink to show that we support inclusivity and diversity.

PInk shirts will be available to purchase in our School Store until February 5th with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Build Them Up Foundation of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.  Deliveries will be made approximately February 16th.

store.kodiaksports.ca/stores/pink-connect

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)

February 15 6:30-7pm Parent Society Meeting

7-8pm     School Council meeting

February 17-21 Family Day Weekend break

February 23 Pink Shirt Day

Stay safe and healthy everyone,

Phil Butterfield
Principal