Good afternoon Connect parents;
Our unseasonably mild weather lately has us almost forgetting the -30C temperatures we experienced over winter break. The school fields are nearly bare of snow and ice and the lack of skiable snow at the FEC has us planning alternative, more spring-like activities such as orienteering and hiking, for winter camp days. On the up side, Mr. Dittmann and a dedicated crew of basketball enthusiasts are using the upgraded outdoor basketball court for after school practices and skill development for grade 8 and 9 students. We are hoping to be able to host an outdoor basketball tournament in the spring when warm, dry weather will be more consistent.
On February 8th, Premier Kenney announced that several pandemic restrictions would be eased or eliminated, including the mandatory wearing of masks by K to 12 students in Alberta schools. Subsequently, all school jurisdictions received the letter below from Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange, reinforcing the point that schools are not to implement any policy or procedure that requires the wearing of masks by students.
The elimination of the mask requirement for students, and reframing or elimination of other pandemic restrictions, has some important implications and considerations for our students, staff, and Connect families. COVID-19 and the Omicron variant have not vanished with the masking mandate. We are aware that we have immuno-compromised individuals within our school community who may be increasingly vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus in the absence of masks being worn. We also know we will have a significant number of students who will continue to wear a mask in school at the request of their parents or by their own choice. Through the morning announcements and class conversations this week, students have been reminded that masks will be optional as of Monday, that it is perfectly acceptable to continue wearing a mask, and that our continuing citizenship emphasis on mutual respect, empathy, and understanding must prevail at all times to ensure those who choose to wear a mask may do so without ridicule or judgment. The mask requirement has been a polarizing issue in society and our school community has not been insulated from the debate. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, however, we remain committed to fostering healthy and respectful dialogue, while complying with government directives…and doing our very best to maintain a safe and healthy environment for students and staff. A few more points emerging from the premier’s announcement on Tuesday are:
- All adults in the school are required to wear masks in accordance with previous procedures;
- Daily screening is still required for all student, staff, and visitors entering the school;
- Isolation and quarantine requirements remain in effect. See www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx for details;
- Cohorts are to remain in effect until this requirement is rescinded by the government, possibly as early as March 1st. Cohorts currently consist of a pod (two classes) but will be adjusted on February 14th for grade 7, 8, and 9 to be an entire grade. Following the Family Day break we will re-evaluate absentee rates for grades 4 to 6 and consider expanding those cohorts to grade groups as well;
- Additional sanitizing by facilities staff will continue;
- Emphasis on hand hygiene has been ongoing as part of health classes and will continue;
- The Restriction Exemption Program (REP) has been eliminated and therefore there is no requirement for parent volunteers, visitors, or staff to provide proof of vaccination before entering the school building.
While we all hope the pandemic is reclassified to endemic status soon, we are very aware of the presence of the Omicron variant and the need to be vigilant in our practices in order to reduce the potential spread of the virus. We cannot express strongly enough our gratitude to all of our parents, students, and staff who have shown such tremendous resolve in the past two years to support Connect in creating a healthy and safe environment for our school community.
The Center for Sexuality parent webinar has now been rescheduled to Wednesday February 23rd at 6:30pm. Please register in advance at:
Centre for Sexuality: Supporting 2SLGBTQ+ Youth: A Workshop for Parents, Family, and Friends
Family, friends, and parents play an important role in the lives of children and youth who are Two Spirit and LGBTQ+. Research shows that gender and sexually diverse youth experience improved health and wellbeing 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. Additionally, through interactive activities participants will have the opportunity to explore their own values and beliefs regarding gender and sexual diversity. Participants will be given practical tools and resources to build comfort and skill in supporting and affirming Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ children and youth.
50/50 Raffle Update
WAY TO GO CONNECT COMMUNITY! Our first ever 50/50 CASH Raffle has brought in a jackpot of $7,910 so far – that will buy much needed school equipment and be an amazing windfall for one lucky winner. We still have FIVE days to buy tickets, with the drawing just before the long weekend. Please be sure to buy your tickets, buy more tickets, share on social media and email your friends and family!
Parent Society and School Council Meetings
A Zoom link will be sent to all parents on the afternoon of February 15th to join one or both of these meetings.
Parent Society meeting – Tuesday February 15 6:30-7pm
School Council meeting – Tuesday February 15, 2022 7-8pm
- Please attend our first School Council Meeting of 2022! connectcharter.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2022/02/Feb-15-2022-Agenda-Draft.pdf
- School Council Executive positions 2022/2023
School Council is looking for parents to fill the following positions for the next school year:
- Vice-Chair (could be a shared co-Vice-Chair)
- Communications Specialist to help with WordPress site and other parent engagement responsibilities
If you would like to find out more, please contact Sandra Rosano Koeller at [email protected].
Emergency Lunch Program
Our Educational Assistants are continually interacting with students across their assigned grades and often become aware of those students who do not have a lunch or a snack during the day.
Since the return to school from the Winter Break, our EAs are noticing a substantial increase in the number of students who are requiring access to the emergency food supply. The most common reasons are due to students forgetting their lunch, not having time to prepare their lunch before leaving for school or not packing enough food in their lunchkits. The grades in which students are accessing the emergency supplies the most are grade 5s all the way up to grade 9 with the majority being 7, 8 & 9 students. The days that Fun Lunch or Fun Snack are scheduled are particularly challenging. Many students line up asking for food due to thinking that they were supposed to receive a lunch item but didn’t. There are times that Fun Lunch and Fun Snack have been canceled last minute or are delayed which leaves those children who have an ordered item with nothing to eat for the day because they didn’t pack anything in the event of an emergency. To date the emergency supplies have been accessed by students 94 times since the return to school, either for a little snack or for a full blown lunch and snack.
We recognize that family circumstances can change quickly and for various reasons. We are more than happy to have an emergency supply of food available for these students but we ask that you please contact the office with this information so that we can be aware and have a plan already set in place for your child.
Please have a conversation with your child this weekend about their lunches. It would be helpful if you were able to reiterate the importance of preparing a lunch the night before school as well as always having an extra non perishable snack for the afternoon in the event they are feeling extra hungry. It would also be wonderful if you and your child(ren) came up with a plan as to what they could do in the event that Fun Lunch or Fun Snack is cancelled or delayed. Even though this is rare, it does happen from time to time and we would hate to turn your wide eyed children away due to our emergency supply running dry, which has also sadly happened.
Thank you, we greatly appreciate your support with this.
The EA Team
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
6:30-8pm Parent webinar – Center for Sexuality (to be confirmed)
March 4 Organizational Day – Non-instructional day
March 14 Term 2 report cards available in PowerSchool
March 17 Last day of classes for students
4:30-8pm Student-led conferences
March 18 8am-1pm Student-led conferences
Spring break begins
April 4 Classes resume
Have a wonderful weekend everyone,