May 13, 2022 Parent Update

Good afternoon Connect parents;

The Field Experience Center has come alive with spring, including new shoots on the trees, wildflowers, and clear evidence of nature replicating itself through the ongoing cycle of life. This coyote (above) was caught on the wildlife camera near the back of the FEC property while out looking for food to take back to the den tucked safely in the wetland. Pods of students are also spending time at the FEC and it won’t be long before the spring camps will be in full swing. Most of this update is devoted to providing a comprehensive overview of camp details. Information specific to each pod will be relayed to you by your child’s homeroom teacher. 

Connect Our Community Open House – May 19, 2022 3:30-6:30pm

The Connect Our Community open house, rescheduled from a snowy April day, is set to go rain or shine on Thursday May 19th from 3:30-6:30pm. Families may register for a one hour block (3:30-4:30, 4:30-5:30, or 5:30-6:30) through Conference Manager in PowerSchool. Each one hour session will begin with a brief presentation in the gym by the school leadership team, after which you will be able to visit your child’s classrooms and teachers.

Spring Camp – IMPORTANT…GRADE 5 TO 8 PARENTS…PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

Grade 9 parents please note that you will receive information directly from the grade 9 team regarding the year end trip to Camp River’s Edge. As that wrap up activity is in lieu of a spring camp at the FEC, the information below does not apply to grade 9 students.

As our spring overnight camps get ever closer, there are undoubtedly many questions swirling around our parent community about safety, procedures, equipment, and how to get involved. Connect has a long and successful history of planning and implementing off site field experiences. The charter that defines our school has outdoor and experiential education as a pillar of our program. As such, students are expected to participate in all outdoor education activities, including those that take place within the city and extended, overnight trips that take place outside of Calgary. 

We are extremely fortunate to have acquired the Field Experience Center as a hub for students to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities and as a place for them to strengthen relationships through shared experiences. As we emerge from the pandemic that has curtailed our off site activities for over two years, we must consider that even though COVID-19 is still with us and still affects many families and individuals, being outdoors is the safest place we can be! There is no better ventilated room anywhere than a tent, and for one night and two days we are going to do our best to keep students outside, active, safe, and having fun.

Safety is always of paramount importance as we plan field experiences and with that in mind we have designed activities for this inaugural round of overnight camps that will help students develop a connection to the land while avoiding contact with water. There will not be any lake related activities at this time and the waterfront will be used for walking only under supervision.

A Spring Camp Parent Information Webinar will be held on Wednesday May 25th at 6:30pm. The webinar Zoom link will be sent out on Tuesday May 24th. For those who are unable to join the webinar, it will be recorded and will be available on the website by May 26th.

Following are a series of Spring Camp related topics with information that will hopefully address some of your most pressing questions.

Work Bee – Saturday May 28th    10am-3pm

Setting up the camp and cleaning the site are an integral part of parent engagement in field experiences. If you want to be involved but can’t get time to volunteer during weekday camps, the work bee, taking place on Saturday May 28th from 10am to 3pm is a great way to gain a better understanding of the experience your child will have at camp. There are many jobs in need of attention, including general clean up, painting, minor repairs, setting up tents, and organizing the kitchen and food preparation/serving areas. If you are able to join us for the work bee, reply to [email protected]  and include your name, contact email, cell number, child’s name, and homeroom class. Families are welcome; be aware that there will be a lot of activity in the area and children must be supervised at all times. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic to enjoy a break during the work day while you meet friends new and old within our parent community. 

Staff on Site at the FEC

In addition to our teachers and educational assistants, our leadership team provides support for field experiences by being available to assist with activities, support student needs, and address issues that may arise in the course of each trip. Evan Ferguson will be providing program support along with John Cadman and Terran Fong who will also be at camp on their scheduled phys ed teaching days. Gavin Peat will be the site coordinator and will provide support for parent volunteers as they get oriented to the dining hall kitchen and the day to day maintenance of the site.   

Volunteering

Each pod/trip requires 8 parent volunteers with current security clearance. If you are interested in volunteering, notify your child’s homeroom teacher. Pod teachers will provide the office with a list of volunteer names that will be checked against our list of security cleared parents. In the event there are far more volunteers interested for a trip than there are spaces, a lottery draw will determine which parents will attend.

Camp Fees

The spring camp fee of $125/student may be paid in PowerSchool. We are committed to ensuring that no student is excluded from field experiences due to financial challenges. Those requiring financial assistance to cover the cost of camp may contact Laurie Kangas at [email protected] to initiate the process.

COVID Protocols and Accommodations

We recognize that many people are still affected by COVID and that in some circumstances accommodations may be required in order for children to participate in field experiences. Our commitment to student and staff safety is a top priority. Being outdoors is the safest environment in terms of not contracting the virus and we are confident that our plans to run these field experiences in pod cohorts will further minimize any associated risks.  

 Nonetheless we are aware that in some extenuating circumstances students may not be able to stay overnight at the FEC and we are prepared to accommodate parent pick up of children at 8:30pm as long as arrangements are made well before the trip dates. Students who are picked up from camp on the evening of Day 1 may be dropped off at camp at 9am the morning of Day 2 and they can then return to the school on the bus with their class at the end of the trip. 

Note: You may transport your own child without submitting any documentation, however, if you will be transporting any children other than your own, the following documents are required:

  • Current driver’s abstract for the last 5 years (available from a registry office);
  • Driver’s authorization form (available by emailing a request to [email protected]) including proof of vehicle insurance indicating a minimum of $1 million liability insurance;
  • Written consent from the parent or guardian of the child you will be transporting, specifying the date and times of travel and pick up and drop off locations.

 All applications to drive students require the approval of the principal before the transport takes place.

As a further safety measure, it is recommended (but certainly not required) that parents conduct a rapid test with children on the morning of departure to camp, as well as a screening for symptoms. Students displaying symptoms or who test positive for COVID will not be permitted to go on their designated trip. Students who develop symptoms while at camp will be isolated in the infirmary and must be picked up by a parent at the earliest opportunity.  

Transportation

Securing bus transportation to and from the FEC has proven to be a massive undertaking, and kudos to Brenda Gehring in our front office who has worked miracles to find buses to meet our needs. The result is that departure and return times may vary for pods depending on the bus company and driver’s schedules. Homeroom teachers will advise you of the departure and return times. Students MUST be driven to school with their gear on the morning of day 1 and be picked up upon return on Day 2. They will not be permitted on their regular school bus with their overnight equipment.

Accommodations for Students and Parent Volunteers

Students will use 6-person Marmot tents but will have only 4 people and their gear in each tent. Tents will be set up in a clearing between Owl’s Nest and the wash house. Tents will be sanitized with Microban between student groups and the vents will remain open for ventilation. Parent volunteers have the choice of sleeping in Owl’s Nest (dormitory) or may elect to BYOT (Bring Your Own Tent) and pitch it in the same clearing as the student tents. We cannot accommodate trailers, campers, and RVs at the FEC during student camps.

Washrooms and Outhouses

Due to some concerns about overtaxing the septic systems and uncertainty about whether repairs will be completed before camps get underway, the wash house will only be accessible from 7-9am and 7-9pm for student use. As this is a one night trip, showers will be shut off entirely, but sinks and toilets will be available during specified times. Outhouses are available throughout the property and will be sanitized and cleaned by parent volunteers on each trip. There are outhouses on the perimeter of the tent village area for student use at night and these facilities will remain illuminated through the night. Parent volunteers will be able to access washrooms in the dining hall but these will be off limits to students. 

Food Preparation and Eating

IMPORTANT: If your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions of any kind, notify their homeroom teacher by email with complete details to assist us with menu planning and food preparation. 

Other than the bag lunch that each student must bring with them for the first day, meals will be prepared either on the school barbecues adjacent to the dining hall or in the dining hall kitchen. Precautions will be taken to ensure all food, cooking utensils, surfaces, and dishes are properly sanitized. 

If weather is favourable, students will eat outside at picnic tables provided near the dining hall. If weather is inclement, the dining hall will be made available as an alternative dining space.  

Medications, First Aid, and Emergency Services

Prescription medications that students require during the trip are to be given to the homeroom teacher on the morning of the departure. Meds should be in the original container inside a zip lock bag with the child’s name, dose, and possible side effects clearly marked on the container.

Emergency services is located in Kananaskis Village, approximately 30 minutes from the FEC. There is also a landline and wifi cell coverage at the FEC that allows us to access 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Staff will carry a satellite phone when leading activities off the FEC property. Two way radios will be carried at all times by staff and volunteers for immediate contact. Although a wildlife encounter is extremely unlikely, all staff and volunteers will carry bear spray and will be instructed in proper use of this deterrent.

The FEC infirmary is well stocked with basic first aid supplies and there is an AED in the dining hall. All Connect staff have a minimum of emergency first aid certification and many are qualified in Wilderness First Aid.  

What to bring?

Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs)

Grade 6 and 9 students will begin writing PATs on Monday May 16th. Below is a schedule for the PATs:

Monday May 16  Grade 9 ELA Part A

Wednesday May 18 Grade 6 ELA part A

Monday June 13 Grade 6 Science

Tuesday June 14 Grade 6 ELA Part B

Wednesday June 15 Grade 6 Social Studies

Thursday June 16  Grade 6 Math Part A and B

Monday June 20 Grade 9 ELA Part B

Wednesday June 22 Grade 9 Math

Thursday June 23 Grade 9 Science

Friday June 24 Grade 9 Social Studies

Lost and Found

Please check the lost and found link below for items that may have become separated from your child. docs.google.com/presentation/d/1e6nlpSsAmoDXWqVVxDbX8xpxPlJaZffEBlryBwVCwp4/edit#slide=id.gc6f73a04f_0_0

Important dates

Check the school calendar at connectcharter.ca/calendar/ and weekly updates from your child’s teachers for dates of class field experiences and other school activities and events.

May 19 3:30-6:30pm Connect Our Community open house

May 20  Professional Development / Non-Instructional Day

May 23  Victoria Day – School closed

May 25  6:30-7:30pm Spring camp parent webinar

May 28 10am-3pm FEC Camp work bee

June 1 Spring camps at the FEC begin (see schedule above)

June 2-3 Grade 9’s to Camp River’s Edge

Have a great weekend,

Phil Butterfield
Principal