Principal’s Update January 6, 2022
On behalf of our staff and leadership team, I want to thank you for your ongoing patience and support. An extended Christmas break for families was likely welcomed for some, and challenging for others. In addition to providing care for 40-50 students on-site this week, our staff have been making the most of this week – adjusting learning spaces, transitions, and schedules; preparing for semester turnaround; and contingency planning for continuity of learning in the face of potential, increased student absences.
Although we hope and pray that “functional closures” due to staff absence/sickness will not be a reality at Cedars, we have identified trigger points for activating school closure protocols – outlining them in our updated Communication Plan.
Given the extra time staff have been given this week, we have updated our school calendar to make Friday, Feb 4th an instructional day (previously a ProD day).
Our staff and leadership team have also spent time this week reviewing existing and enhanced safety measures in our Communicable Disease Prevention Plan. The Board has approved a revision to this Plan. It can be found on our COVID-19 Updates page on our school website or by clicking on the link below.
Communicable Disease Prevention Plan (Update: Jan 6, 2022)
We encourage all parents/ caregivers to review the revised Plan and discuss relevant sections with their children. In particular, we would like to highlight the following:
Pre-existing measures are still in place. Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is considered by public health officials to be the most effective method of slowing the spread and reducing the severity of symptoms related to a COVID-19 infection. Performing Daily Health Checks and staying home when sick continue to be important for all students, volunteers, and staff. Professional and staff-activated cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue to be a priority. Respecting others’ personal space (reducing crowding, staggering movements) and indoor masking requirements will continue to be enforced. If you have travelled outside of Canada over the break, self-isolation and monitoring of symptoms as outlined by PH officials continues to be required.
Enhanced measures will be put in place. New measures are highlighted in yellow in the revised Plan. The following changes should be noted:
- Elementary and high school chapel times will occur within class units
- Large gatherings of staff and/or students will be conducted virtually
- Athletics tournaments have been cancelled; practices and games will continue
- Events (athletic, theatre, music, etc.) will occur with no spectators
- Classroom seating adjusted to reduce face-to-face arrangements
- Parents/Caregivers will be encouraged to conduct business virtually and meet their children outside of the building whenever possible
- promoting air circulation and filtration through HVAC system maintenance, and fresh air exchange through windows / doors.
Encouragement to (re)consider indoor masking for your children. Throughout this pandemic, we have respected parental claims of mask exemptions for their child(ren). We will continue to do so. Some parents/caregivers indicated in their mask exemption request that their key health concern was the “wearing of a mask all day”. We respectfully ask parents/guardians who have claimed mask exemptions for their children to consider having them wear a mask at some times or during some activities and/or consider wearing a clear face shield. Please reach out to me if you wish to adjust your mask exemption request for one or more of your children.
We are awaiting updated advice from the province with respect to communication protocols. We do know that contact tracing and exposure notices will NOT look the same. More ownership for identifying and informing close contacts will be placed in the hands of those who have positive COVID-19 tests and/or are symptomatic. We will clarify the responsibilities of students, parents/caregivers, school, and public health when we have more guidance from the province. What is clear is that staying home is required for:
- Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (5 days for fully vaccinated; 10 day for partially or unvaccinated individuals)
- Those (partially or unvaccinated) individuals who are identified as close contact of COVID-postive individual by public health
In these cases, it is helpful for the school office to know the nature and expected duration of absence to activate continuity of learning plans accordingly. Communication protocols will be included in our updated Communication Plan.
We have developed a high-level plan for functional school closures. In our updated Communication Plan (coming soon!) we have outlined the following trigger points for school closure decisions and school-home communication protocols. Please note that functional school closures will be primarily based on staff absences; however, depending on PH advice, there may be situations where student absences will trigger a school closure.
- If staff are sick, our on-call dispatch person is activated to secure a replacement.
- If no replacement is available, the Principal is notified and internal coverage solutions are activated.
- If internal coverage is not sufficient for safe supervision of students or meaningful learning continuity, an email will be sent to parents/caregivers to come pick up their children. A functional school closure announcement will also be posted on our building doors and Cedars Updates Facebook page. The duration of the school closure will be clarified in this announcement.
- On-site care for children who are not able to be picked up immediately will be provided on the day of the school closure announcement.
- On-site care will be provided for vulnerable students and children of essential service workers for the duration of the school closure with reduced staff.
- Day 1 of a functional school closure will be used for staff planning, preparation, and communication with families. No online learning will occur on this day.
- Online learning will be activated on Day 2 and for the duration of the school closure.
- School closures will be 3-7 days, based on anticipated time for staff sickness recovery to support in-person learning.
- Given our K-12 context, with siblings across our elementary and high school, it should be expected that school closures would result in K-12 transition to online learning.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this communique. If you have any questions, concerns, or need clarification on any point, please contact me at the school or via email.
Mr. Shane Nelson