PSD Students Return to In-Person Learning - UPDATE

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Alberta Health Services, COVID-19

January 7, 2022 - As previously announced by the Minister of Education, Parkland School Division students will join the rest of the province in returning to in-person learning Monday, January 10th. We hope families have had a restful break and we are working to create a safe environment for our students and staff on their return. This update is to prepare students and staff for what to expect on their return to school Monday.

View the updated Guidance for Schools which includes tightening up a number of protocols like cohorting, masking, and additional measures that have been in place all school year.

Rapid Tests & Medical Grade Masks

The government of Alberta is providing schools with shipments of rapid tests and masks. The first shipment is expected prior to Friday, January 14, and distribution to students and staff will occur as individual schools receive their supplies. Both rapid tests and masks will be shipped in phases. 

Masks remain mandatory for all Grade 4 - 12 students in PSD and are strongly recommended for K-3 students as per PSD’s Mask Protocol. This includes a strong recommendation for all students and staff to wear their masks at all times. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be reminded to always have a mask with them and staff will make use of learning opportunities for proper mask etiquette for our younger learners. 

Initially, boxes of five at-home rapid test kits will provide enough supply for each student and staff member to test twice per week for 2.5 weeks and a two-week supply of masks for each student and staff will also be shipped. A medical-grade mask has been tested and meets international standards. These rapid tests are for at-home use, at the discretion of individuals and families and will not be used at or by the school. More quick facts can be found in the Alberta Government announcement from January 5th.  

Symptoms and Testing

PCR testing for Albertans with symptoms continues to be available at AHS assessment centres. Asymptomatic PCR testing is no longer recommended, including for close contacts of positive cases. As Alberta Health Services will no longer notify school authorities of positive COVID-19 cases, PSD families and staff are encouraged to notify their school should they test positive for COVID-19 when using the at-home rapid test kits. More information on symptoms and testing including isolation requirements can be found here. Albertans continue to be legally required to self isolate should they experience core symptoms of any strain of COVID-19.

We would also remind all students, staff and visitors to do the Alberta Health Daily Checklist.  Staying home when experiencing symptoms is one of the single most important steps we can take to protect our schools and communities! 

Shifting to at-home learning

There may be a time that it will become an operational requirement to shift a class, grade, or perhaps an entire school to at-home learning.  Should that happen, we will provide as much notice to families as possible.  Parkland School Division will work with Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services to determine when and if such a step is required. 

Ventilation

Proper ventilation and airflow is one of many ways we are maintaining safe learning spaces for staff and students. All of Parkland School Division schools meet or exceed recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in relation to COVID-19

Parkland School Division has increased ventilation in our schools by the following:

  • All school air handling/ventilation equipment has been adjusted to maximize the number of air exchanges within the schools. Prior to Covid air was exchanged roughly 3 times per hour. The air exchanges are now operating at maximum capacity and exchanging air 4.5 to 7.5 times per hour.
  • PSD is in the process of upgrading all air handling filters to the highest possible standard.   
  • Run times for mechanical systems have been extended by 4 hours during school days to go beyond the regular school day to increase air quality.
  • All schools have maintained temperature and humidity design set points.
  • Air handling/ventilation equipment is monitored and inspected on an ongoing basis to maintain maximum air exchanges.
  • The frequency of air filter changes in our ventilations systems has been increased.
  • When weather allows, classroom windows are encouraged to be opened.
  • The use of many outdoor learning spaces located on and around our school grounds is encouraged.

PSD is currently looking at stand-alone HEPA filters for classrooms (where applicable) and are currently reviewing the research and data including best practices for filters like these to work with our existing air filtration systems. More information will be shared with parents/guardians when it becomes available.

For more information on staying safe and healthy for the balance of this school year, visit:

https://www.alberta.ca/k-12-learning-during-covid-19.aspx

Resumption of student learning – January 2022 Question and answer guide for school authorities

 

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