Below are answers to frequently asked questions our families, students and community members may have regarding Westwind School Division’s Return to School Plan for the 2020-21 school year. This information will be updated regularly based on information received from the government of Alberta. Click here to view the full WWSD Scenario 1 School Re-Entry Guide.
If you have any additional questions that are not addressed below, please SUBMIT THEM HERE.
How do I know if I should send my child to school or not?
Parents must assess their children daily for symptoms of common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or other infectious respiratory diseases before sending their child to school using the Daily Health Screening Checklist.
Is the health screen just for students?
All staff, parents, guardians, volunteers, or other adults who will be entering the school must also complete the Daily Health Screening Checklist before entering the school or any WWSD worksite.
Does my student have to wear a mask at school?
Grade 4 to 12 students and staff must wear masks in common areas and hallways/during class transitions where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including on school buses. Exemptions will be made for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical or other needs. Mask use for kindergarten to grade 3 students is optional. All students and staff will get two (2) reusable masks. School staff will get one reusable face shield to use in schools at their discretion. A mask must still be worn while wearing a face shield.
Once a student has entered a classroom and is seated then students can remove their mask except for the following situations:
- if they are seated face to face across from someone within 2 meters,
- if they are working with another student or teacher in close proximity.
Will hand sanitizing stations be available at the school?
All people entering the building are required to use hand sanitizer. Proper handwashing and sanitizing reminders will be placed throughout the school. Hand sanitizer will be provided and available in entrances, exits, classroom entrances, near high-touch equipment such as microwave ovens and vending machines, and other high-traffic areas. We strongly encourage all students to bring their own personal size hand sanitizers from home, where possible.
What if my student gets sick at school?
Students exhibiting signs of illness must immediately be moved to the school’s infirmary or designated area and kept at least 2 metres away from others. The student will be required to wear a non-medical mask if they can do so safely and their temperature may be taken. Parents/guardians will be notified and required to pick up their child immediately. If the parent is unable to pick up their child, the parents must designate an emergency contact for student pickup and ensure the school always has their most up-to-date contact information on file. The Alberta Government’s pandemic response requires that students be picked up by a family member or emergency contact as soon as possible after notification.
What happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at my school?
If there are cases of COVID-19 identified within school settings, AHS’s public health contact in the south zone will work directly with the jurisdiction and school administration to identify cases, identify close contacts, and create isolation measures where needed. Officials will also work with school authorities to provide follow-up recommendations and messaging for staff, parents/guardians and students.
A COVID-19 case will not automatically lead to school closure; however, the group of students and staff who came in close contact may be required to get tested for COVID-19 or stay home for 14 days. Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at their school, and public health officials will contact those who were in close contact with the person. Schools will support students and staff to learn or work at home if they are required to quarantine.
Alberta Health Services may request the school close in-person classes to facilitate a public health investigation. AHS’s public health contact in the south zone will make the decision to send a cohort /class home or to close a school. If this were to occur, the school will support students and staff to learn or work-at-home if they are required to self-isolate.
What if my child has a pre-existing medical condition?
A student or staff member showing COVID-19 symptoms who has allergies or other pre-existing medical conditions that cause similar symptoms should get at least one negative COVID-19 test result before returning to school. These symptoms would be their baseline health status. The student can attend school as long as they stay the same. Talk to your school about your child’s pre-existing medical conditions so the school may keep a confidential record of these conditions.
How do I know when it's safe for my child to return to school or if they need to isolate?
For all information about isolation, testing, and close contact with those who are ill or who have tested positive for COVID-19 please contact 811 or visit the Government of Alberta website.
How can I help my child prepare for school re-entry?
Your child may feel nervous about what school will be like. While there will be changes, the key school experience will be the same as before—they will learn in class with their teacher and see friends.
We encourage parents to talk to their children about some of the new health measures to help them prepare for the first day of school:
- Wearing a mask
- Sanitizing hands before entering school and classrooms
- Keeping a distance between others and follow marks in hallways
- Not sharing food or personal items
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Telling staff if feeling sick at school
- Lunch and recess time may change to allow for more physical distancing
- Students may be asked to stay in their own cohort to decrease contact with others
- Students who take the bus will have to sit in the same seat every day.
How is my school promoting physical distancing?
Grade 4 to 12 students and staff must wear masks where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including on school buses. Where possible, we will be trying to maximize the distance between students, and where 2 metres is not possible, the greatest possible spacing will be provided and masks will be required. We will not be mandating 2 metres between students across the division due to the large volume of students in our buildings. It will be essential that all individuals (students, staff, and volunteers) who will be visiting the buildings use the Daily Health Screening Checklist (Appendix A) to evaluate their health before entering our schools and wear a mask.
Will my student still have a locker?
School lockers will be available to students if that school has used lockers previously, and more information will be available in your school's re-entry plan. Lockers are expected to be personal and used individually. Please help your child understand and comply with this concept.
What changes will my student see in the classroom?
To help with keeping our classrooms clean and disinfected, all non-essential clutter will be removed to help with cleaning. Area rugs and other soft materials that are not easily cleaned will be removed at this time. Desks will be spaced out as much as possible and teachers will make every effort to encourage students to maintain distance awareness. Sitting in groups or tables will be replaced with rows to try and help minimize incidental contact and the potential spreading of germs.
Students will be asked to bring their own supplies and to not share them with other students (calculators, pens, crayons, glue sticks, pencil, etc.) Teachers and Principals will work with individual families who may experience difficulty in purchasing the necessary supplies.
Each classroom will contain a spray bottle of disinfectant and cloths to assist with our school cleaning plan. Students and staff will be expected to quickly and effectively wipe down any desk, chair, device, or tool that they may have used during that class period to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What is a cohort?
A cohort is defined as a group of students and staff who remain together. AHS has indicated that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is reduced by limiting exposure to others, and contact tracing is also more feasible when groups (cohorts) are maintained. In our normal scenario planning, our intent is to have approximately the same number of students in each class as we’ve traditionally had. Our schools will develop procedures and plans for in-person learning that supports physical distancing where possible and to separate cohorts to the greatest extent possible.
Will water fountains be open?
Water fountains will be open and available to students and staff for filling personal water bottles. Each student and staff member will be invited and encouraged to have their own water bottle. Custodians will be disinfecting water fountains regularly.
Can I still volunteer at my child's school?
At the present time, all Westwind schools will be closed campuses, and we will temporarily be placing a hold on all adult volunteer programs within our schools. This decision will be revisited at the end of each month and reassessed based on the current health situation in our various school communities.
Any adult, in any position, must complete the Daily Health Screening Checklist (Appendix A), wash their hands or use the provided hand sanitizer, wear a mask, and practice safe hygiene and PPE protocol at all times while in the school. All visitors, parents, and volunteers must make an appointment and/or let the school know when and why they will be entering the school. All school visitors must report to the office informing the school of who they are and why they are in the building. A visitor log will be kept in the office.
What will lunchtime look like?
Staff and students will be reminded to wash their hands before eating and maintain distance awareness during lunch periods. There should be no food sharing. School cafeterias will continue to operate and provide lunches as long as the cafeteria follows all AHS guidelines. Principals will make efforts to stagger lunch/snack breaks to maintain physical distancing among students and ensure eating areas are disinfected. Guidelines surrounding food services in schools can be found on page 8 of Alberta Education’s Guidance for Re-Entry document.
Will my child still have recess breaks?
Staff will help students to maintain distance awareness. Schools are not expected to limit recess to 2 metres distances between students. A principal may implement staggered recess times to try and help with distance awareness for their students. Staff and students will wear masks and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when they return to the school.
Will there be extracurricular activities this year?
Westwind continues to work with Alberta Education, Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) on plans for extra-curricular activities during the upcoming school year. We are hoping for full reinstatement of all co/extra-curricular programming and will send out updates as we learn more.
Will there be field trips this year?
Field trips or activities that require group transportation will be postponed at this time. As the school year progresses, we will be monitoring conditions and examining options to see when and how field trip experiences can be reintroduced back into our students' learning experiences.
Is my School Council still able to meet?
School Council meetings will continue under the direction of school principals and school council presidents in each community. These two individuals will decide on meeting formats and ensure that all AHS meeting guidelines are followed.
Will there be protocols for washrooms?
Regular washroom access will be maintained for students. Students will be reminded not to congregate and overcrowd the washroom spaces, and all washroom facilities will be cleaned and sanitized more frequently to ensure cleanliness. Signs encouraging hand washing will be placed throughout the school.
How can I as a parent help keep out schools safe?
Screen for symptoms every morning
Check every morning to see if your child has any of these symptoms. If yes, they must stay home:
• Fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, sore throat, chills, painful swallowing
• Runny nose/nasal congestion, feeling unwell/fatigued, nausea/ vomiting/diarrhea, unexplained loss of appetite
• Loss of sense of taste or smell, muscle/joint aches, headache, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Stay home when sick or if in contact with someone who is sick
Students, parents or family members must not enter school if they:
• Feel sick or have symptoms of COVID-19
• Had close contact with someone who is ill with a cough and/or fever
• Have anyone in the household who has been in close contact in the last 14 days with someone who is being investigated or confirmed to have COVID-19
• Have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days
• Had close contact with someone who has travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days and who is ill
Keep a safe distance Keep 2 metres between you and others when possible:
• During drop-off and pick-up
• During interactions with a teacher, school staff or other parents and students
Pick up students promptly if they show symptoms at school
You will be asked to pick up your child from school immediately if they show symptoms. Please ensure the school has your most up-to-date contact information so they may reach you if your child needs to be picked up.
Taking your child to school
If your child normally takes the bus, consider taking them directly to the school if your personal situation allows for it. This would help with physical distancing on the bus for students who do not have other options besides taking the bus.
Will all of my student's classes still be offered?
All course offerings that have been offered previously will be offered currently, however, there may be some course modifications and adjustments to meet AHS guidelines.
What about music/band/choir programs?
The Superintendent will work closely with principals and music teachers to explore safe and protected options and protocols to allow schools to offer music/band/choir programs. Parents will be informed of these plans and will have the option to decide whether or not their child will participate.
Will P.E. programs still run?
When possible, physical education should be done outside instead of inside. Activities that support physical distancing will be encouraged. While changing for physical education classes students will be encouraged to maintain distance awareness.
Will the school support my student if they need to be isolated or quarantined?
Our standard pre-COVID-19 practices for students who are ill and unable to attend school are to provide key work for students to complete at home. Homework packages, emails, and any other available learning created by the teacher will be coordinated and sent to the homebound student to work on during their absence.
What if I don't feel comfortable sending my child back to school?
WWSD recognizes the role of parents in determining their child’s’ educational needs, path, and direction. At this time, WWSD will not be providing at home/online learning options with community-based schools as parents experienced in the Spring of 2020. Parents will be sent a survey and will be asked to make a declaration regarding their child(ren)’s learning for the 2020/2021 school year by August 21, 2020, based on the following options:
- The student will attend their designated school as previously registered.
- The student will register with the Westwind Alternate School (WAS). WAS offers the following options for schooling at home. More information about options available through Westwind Alternate School are available in Appendix G.
- Option 1: HOME EDUCATION: As the parent, you are in charge of this program and will have the responsibility of providing your child with an education. (Grades 1 - 12) You will be responsible for designing an education program for your child and submitting it to a teacher-facilitator for approval at the beginning of the school year.
- Option 2: PERSONALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (PEP): This is a teacher-directed home-based (distance) learning opportunity for students from grades 1 - 9. It is very collaborative as the WAS teacher works very closely with the parent(s) to ensure that the student is receiving a full Alberta education.
- Option 3: HIGH SCHOOL OUTREACH: The Outreach Program is a very flexible grade 10 - 12 option with a variety of instructional delivery models and a number of different scheduling and attendance opportunities. Outreach provides the ability for students to be enrolled full-time at WAS or to be enrolled full time at their regular high school and simply take one course or a few courses at WAS. We have Outreach locations at Cardston, Magrath, Raymond and Stirling.
*Families should understand that schooling through the WAS will be different from the “at-home/online learning” delivery students experienced in the spring with classroom teachers providing delivery. WWSD teachers in community-based schools will be required to focus all of their time and energy on their school classrooms and will not be required to support students choosing not to attend in-person classes.
Parents may also choose to pursue any other educational programs that they feel meet the needs of their child outside of WWSD.
Parents/students will have until September 21, 2020, to evaluate the schooling option they have selected and determine whether it is the right decision for their child(ren). After September 21, 2020, any changes to school enrollment will be approved at the discretion of the school Principal.
Will WWSD students participate in provincial assessments this year?
Similar to the 2019/2020 school year, WWSD schools may choose if all or some of their classes will participate in Grade 3 Student Learning Assessments (SLAs). Schools will indicate in their individual schools plans whether or not they will participate.
WWSD will not administer Grade 6 Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) during the 2020/21 school year. Grade 9 PATs will proceed as scheduled.
Alberta Education has announced that Grade 12 students will be required to write their diploma exams at their full value of 30% of their final grade.
How is Westwind planning to support student mental health and wellness?
Mental Health and wellness are equally as important as the educational well being of staff and students. COVID-19 has created an environment with times of uncertainty and difficulty for many. The Government of Alberta has provided many resources to support schools, staff members and students. These are available in HERE.
How is WWSD planning to Support Students Who Require Individual / Specialized Support and Medically Fragile Students
Principals will contact families of students who require individual/specialized support and medically fragile students prior to the start of the school year to discuss necessary accommodations and individualized programming.
WWSD will maintain learning opportunities for students specific to their Individualized Program Plan (IPP) using a variety of approaches. Students with complex or differing learning needs will continue to be intentionally included in the learning of the whole classroom with support from Learning Supports. Divisional supports, such as occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, physical therapists, will provide service following their professional association guidelines. Some of these services will be face-to-face but physically distanced where possible. Some services may be provided online. We expect that many of these professionals will need to wear various personal protective equipment in order to minimize risks.
Will my student continue to be bussed to school?
WWSD will only be providing transportation for funded riders (those who reside further than 2.4km from the school). WWSD will cease picking up any unfunded rider (inside 2.4 km) for the immediate future. WWSD will revisit their new inside 2.4 km plan at later date.
Are masks mandatory on buses?
Yes. Mask use for grades 4 to 12 students and bus drivers will be mandatory on school buses.
Can I drive my child to school?
Yes, parents are invited to take their children to school. There will be no financial compensation for doing so.
What if my child becomes ill on the bus?
If a child becomes ill while riding the bus, the driver will provide a mask to the ill student and try to isolate them as best they can. If the child becomes sick on the way to school, the driver will transfer responsibility over to the school supervisor who will initiate the protocol of contacting parents for student pickup.
Will buses be sanitized regularly?
Yes, every bus will be disinfected daily.
BUILDINGS AND CLEANING
Can I rent the school for a private event?
At the present time, all Westwind schools will be closed campuses, and we will temporarily be placing on hold all joint user agreements and community rental agreements. This decision will be revisited at the end of each month and reassessed based on the current health situation in our various school communities.
Are the schools making extra cleaning efforts?
WWSD will conduct enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfecting of high contact surfaces, including vending machines, microwaves, water fountains, door handles and other areas.
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS. WHO CAN I CONTACT?
Schools re-entry plans are available on school websites. We encourage all families to contact their school Principals with any questions.
Cardston Elementary School: email@example.com
Cardston Junior High School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cardston High School: email@example.com
Mountain View School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring Glen Elementary School: email@example.com
Spring Glen Junior High School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Magrath Elementary School: email@example.com
Magrath High School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond Elementary School: email@example.com
Raymond Junior High School: firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond High School: email@example.com
Westwind Alternate School:firstname.lastname@example.org