Catholic Division updates reopening plan to include masks for Grade 4 to 12

Lorel Trumier /Herald File Photo

The Prince Albert Catholic School has updated their plans for reopening schools in September. In a letter to parents published on Monday, August 17 the division provided some new information to parents, students and staff.

According to the release, the information is aligned with the guidelines in the Saskatchewan Safe School Plan and procedures necessary for minimizing physical contact and reducing the spread of COVID-19. The division felt the need to update as the government’s plan evolved last week.

“Our school division will be adding these procedures to the Safe Schools Plan Update within our
School Division’s Return to School Plan Fall 2020,” the letter, signed by director of education Lorel Trumier, said.

In the division there will be masks mandated for all students from Grade 4 to 12 in school
buses, in hallways, breaks and recesses in and common areas of the school. Both the Board of Education and Provincial Chief Medical Officer have mandated masks. All students
Grades 4 to 12 will be provided one reusable mask and guidelines will be reviewed with students upon school starting September 8.

“It is highly recommended that parents/guardians and students begin the process of having students begin to get used to wearing masks starting with short periods of time and moving to longer periods of time,” the letter said.

In a note they said that students would be permitted to remove masks in a controlled manner under the direction of school personnel.

“Accommodations for students with intensive needs may also occur as well. All staff will be required to wear masks and will also be permitted to remove the mask under certain conditions.”

As well parents are asked to transport their own children where possible. This was part of the initial announcement on June 17. All students who ride a bus from Pre-K to Grade 12 must wear a mask with accommodations provided for students with intensive needs with planning with school-based administration. As well, a seating arrangement will be provided for all students who ride the bus and family members will be seated together.

Effective Tuesday, August 11 Ecole St. Mary will be operating at Level 3 of the Safe Alternative Guidelines.

In Level 3 there is reduced classroom capacity including establishing cohort and hybrid learning.

Factors that are being considered include the location, structure, timetables
structure, class sizes and additional operational procedures,” the release stated.

This may include the hybrid learning model of in-class and online learning or alternating days for high school students. Finalized information for St. Mary will be posted at the website and communicated to parents no later than Wednesday, August 26.

Also effective August 11 all school operations will include teacher and class cohorting. This will focus on grouping or “cohorting” teachers to a limited number of students and keeping students in one group as much as possible.

“In elementary school settings, students’ cohorts will be the classroom; in high- school settings where grouping/cohorting is more complex, therefore, reducing the number of cohort exposures will be considered.”

Another change in effect as of August 11 sees all classrooms set up with front-facing instruction for students where physical distancing is not possible or where physical barriers are not provided. In this case exceptions will be identified for approval by public health.

Another change effective August 11 sees staggered start times, breaks and end times, where possible as directed by Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. All schools in Prince Albert Catholic will be staggering their recess and break times within the school schedule and entry into school. The specific information will be finalized and posted on the website on Wednesday, August 26.

After Premier Scott Moe announced that the start date of school has been pushed back to Tuesday, September 8. The school division, in their letter they stated they are seeking clarification. School-specific information will be communicated to parents and posted on the website not later than August 26.
The division is also awaiting specific information from the Health Authority or Province on the new aggressive testing strategy announced by Moe this weekend which is focused on voluntary testing for teachers and students.
“With complexity of the evolving Safe Schools Plan, our school division greatly appreciates the
patience and support of all our students, staff and parent/guardians during these
unprecedented times,” the letter said.

Parents in the division are encouraged to monitor our Prince Albert Catholic Schools website (PACSD.CA) for updates.