We understand our students, staff, and families may have questions about COVID-19. We encourage you to refer to official sources such as Alberta Health Services for the latest information and use the AHS COVID-19 online self-assessment tool.
Open Letter to Alberta Parents from Education Minister Adriana LaGrange: March 20, 2020
Alberta Education Release: Continuing Student Learning
Alberta Education COVID-19 FAQs: March 20, 2020
Superintendent Message to Westwind Families: March 17, 2020
Westwind Message to families: School Cancellation Announcement March 15, 2020
Government of Alberta update: March 16, 2020
Alberta Health Services update March 12, 2020.
Westwind Message to families: Zone Basketball Update March 12, 2020
Westwind Message to families: COVID-19 Update March 12, 2020
Westwind Message to families: Out of Country Trips March 11, 2020
Alberta Health Services update March 10, 2020.
Alberta Health Services update March 9, 2020.
Alberta Health Services update March 8, 2020
Alberta Health Services update March 6, 2020.
Westwind Message to families: Novel Coronavirus March 4, 2020
School Closure Announcement
This afternoon, the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Education announced new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Effective immediately, all K to 12 schools in Alberta will be cancelling classes for an indeterminate amount of time. The government has also announced the cancellation of all licensed childcare facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs.
As a result, all schools in the province, including Westwind School Division, will be closed to students from today Sunday, March 15, 2020, until further notice. School and Division operations will continue and staff are expected to report to work on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Some important information from Westwind:
- Schools will be contacting families to communicate the process by which student belongings can be picked up at the school so we can make this process as orderly as possible. We’d like to emphasize that only those who are healthy should visit the schools.
- We are committed to student learning, even in the midst of this school closure. We are awaiting information about what this process and delivery method will look like in Westwind and will share more information as it becomes available.
The information we have from the province at this time indicates:
- Students will no longer be attending preschool, K-12 or in-person post-secondary classes until further notice
- Every K-12 student will receive a final mark and students will progress to their next grade level next year.
- Provincial assessments, such as provincial achievement tests, will be cancelled
- Diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will continue. Every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate
- Government will work with post-secondary institutions to ensure these COVID-19 measures don’t prevent students from being eligible for admission to post-secondary studies for the coming school year.
- Campuses will remain open and teachers and other school staff are expected to work.
- Additional information will be sent out by the Minister of Education in the next few days
Please know, our number one priority is the health and safety of all students, staff and school communities. Westwind will continue to work with Alberta Education and the provincial health authority. We will continue to keep our schools and families updated as information becomes available.
In the meantime, if you have any health-related questions, visit the province’s website: COVID-19 coronavirus info for Albertans or call the Health Link 811.
Alberta Health Services
*AHS COVID-19 FAQ's*
AHS Coronavirus Website
AHS Self-Isolation Information Sheet
AHS external Emerging Issues Novel Coronavirus Page
AHS Notifiable Disease Guideline for COVID-19
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
United States CDC Coronavirus website
Public Health Authority Canada (PHAC)
(PHAC) Novel Coronavirus website
PHAC Novel Corona Virus Information Sheet (Travellers)
PHAC Novel Coronavirus FAQ
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO Coronavirus Page
WHO Novel Coronavirus (COVD-19) Page
WHO Infection Prevention and Control Guidance
John’s Hopkins real-time map tracking COVID-19 global cases
Out of Country Trips and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
COVID-19 Update: March 11, 2020
As we have previously communicated with you, Westwind School Division is closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19.
With information from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Global Affairs Canada, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Education, and Alberta School Boards Insurance Exchange (ASBIE), the Westwind Board of Trustees and Westwind Administration have made the unanimous decision to cancel all international travel for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
This was a difficult decision, and one that we did not make lightly, however, the safety of students, staff, and community is of paramount importance and we recognize that we must take the appropriate steps.
We continue to be dedicated to maintaining a strong partnership with families in our effort to provide the very best education for students. We will provide further updates as they become available.
COVID-19 Update: March 9, 2020
While the risk is low, Westwind School Division is implementing measures for the prevention and control of respiratory viruses.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health recently announced the first presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.
We understand our students, staff, and families may have questions about coronavirus. We encourage you to refer to official sources such as Alberta Health Services for the latest information.
Alberta Health Services update March 8, 2020
Alberta Health Services update March 6, 2020.
There are two important ways to prevent and control respiratory viruses in school settings:
The first is for students and staff who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) to stay home from school. If your child is not feeling well, we ask that you keep them home so that they can rest and recover. As always, please remember to inform the school of the absence.
The second way to prevent and control respiratory viruses is the consistent practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and water, which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses. We are enhancing our communication to students about hand-washing, sneeze/cough etiquette, and preventing illness – including new signage and supplies at each site across the school division.
REMINDER: Masks are not necessary for people who are not experiencing symptoms. In children in particular, masks can be irritating and may actually increase touching of the face and eyes, which increases the risk of infection. Children who have symptoms should be kept home from school rather than relying on masks.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles, water fountain push buttons) helps prevent the transmission of viruses. Our school division has asked our custodial services to focus attention on daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces at all of our school sites.
Students should not be sharing food, utensils, dishes, and water bottles or drink containers. Although this practice is important for preventing exposures to allergens, it is equally important in reducing virus transmission between children.
A new virus such as the COVID-19 can create anxiety and be difficult for students/children to understand, especially if someone they know is sick, or they see or hear troubling messages on the radio, internet or television. It is normal for children to feel worried and nervous and have questions.
You can support your children by reassuring them about their personal safety and health:
- Limit their access to news and online stories about the issue.
- Maintain a normal routine unless otherwise advised by an authority.
- Encourage them to talk to you about their concerns.
- Reassure them they are safe. This is a child-friendly video on COVID-19.
- Advise them of steps they can take to stay healthy:
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing the ABC’s to measure time), especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Cough and sneeze into arm or tissue.
- Stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Keep hands away from face and mouth.
- Stay healthy by eating healthy foods, keeping physically active, and getting enough sleep.
Contact 8-1-1 (Health Link) or your health care provider for questions about your personal health situation.
Please note: School divisions do not have the authority to make public health decisions. If steps are taken in relation to a public health concern, it is at the direction of the Alberta Health Services and local health authorities. Westwind School Division is in regular communication with Alberta Education, Alberta Health Services, and school divisions across the province. At this time, school divisions have not been directed to take steps in relation to coronavirus.
March 4, 2020: Update from Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health
Westwind School Division is sharing the following information received from Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
I am writing again to update you on novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We know that Albertans, including school staff, students, and parents, continue to be concerned about this particular coronavirus. It is important to remember that the current risk of exposure in Alberta is low. There are no confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Alberta at this time.
To do our best to keep the risk of COVID-19 low, Alberta and other provinces are providing advice based on the best current evidence and guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Please read the following information for recommendations that apply to you and your family.
Have you or your family been in Iran or Hubei province, China in the last 14 days?
If yes, we recommend the following:
- It is best for anyone who traveled from Iran or Hubei to self-isolate (stay at home, not going to school, work, or social gatherings), even if you are feeling well, until 14 days have passed from your last visit to Hubei province.
- This advice is focused on travelers returning from Iran and Hubei province as the risk of community transmission is currently considered to be the highest in these places.
- You should also closely watch for symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing in any family member who has been in Hubei province in the last 14 days, and call Health Link 811 if any of these symptoms begin.
Have you or has anyone in your household returned from any other parts of mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or Italy in the past 14 days?
If yes, we recommend the following:
- Anyone who traveled to mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or Italy in the past 14 days should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough (with students getting help from their parents) up to 14 days after their last visit.
- If, while you or your family members were in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or Italy and were in contact with someone who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, or were in a health care facility, please call Health Link 811 to talk about your possible exposure and to get information on any other measures you may wish to take.
- Although the most likely cause of symptoms like fever or cough is a common virus, like influenza, if someone who traveled to mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or Italy in the last 14 days feels sick, they should stay home and away from others, and Health Link 811 should be called to talk about any need for testing and follow up.
Have you or has anyone in your household returned from anywhere else outside Canada in the past 14 days?
- If, while you or your family members were outside Canada you were in contact with someone who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, or were in a health care facility, please call Health Link 811 to talk about your possible exposure and to get information on any other measures you may wish to take.
We are still in influenza season in Alberta, so to minimize spread of any respiratory virus, for all families we recommend the following:
- Make sure everyone in your household washes their hands with soap and water often. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if hands are not visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag. Wash your hands immediately after that. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
- Stay home if you’re sick. If your kids are sick, keep them home from school.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are used often and shared by everyone in your home.
- Travelers should always check for current travel notices on the Government of Canada website prior to travel.
Many families are planning trips outside of Canada in the next several weeks. If you are planning a trip, before you leave, please consult the Government of Canada travel advisory website at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories to see the most up to date
information about any risks you might have on your trip. Make sure you follow the advice above on handwashing and cleaning surfaces whether at home or on vacation.
Finally, while the current risk is low, it is important that we are prepared in case that changes. We are making plans in the health system, should COVID-19 come to Alberta, and you can prepare in your household as well. It is important to remember that most people who get COVID-19 (about 80%) have a mild illness, and don’t need medical care to recover. You can make plans for having a lower threshold to stay home from work or school than you normally would with a mild illness, thinking about child care options for sick children that would not put them in close contact with other people. You can also build the healthy habits mentioned above that help protect against all respiratory viruses.
It is natural that we worry about new threats to our health, and the best thing you can do if you are worried is to get up to date information from reliable sources such as Alberta Health (www.alberta.ca/coronavirus) and Alberta Health Services (www.ahs.ca/covid). You can also take the preventive steps outlined above, like hand washing regularly, to reduce your risk of infection.
Deena Hinshaw, BSc, MD, MPH, CCFP, FRCP
Chief Medical Officer of Health