Edsby portal officially in use in Catholic Schools in Prince Albert

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board received an update Monday on the launch of the division’s new online portal, Edsby.

According to director of education Lorel Trumier, the Edsby portal has integrated with the data from their previous portal MySchoolSask.

“Edsby will be able to provide the opportunity for parents to look at the grade book, look at their parent and student portal information. So school newsletter, school messages — it is kind of like the Facebook of education,” Trumier explained to the board.

The Edsby is one platform for all users across the school division. It allows access to all students with Microsoft 365 Office apps and is available to all students for free download on devices while enrolled in the division. The board was initially briefed on the plan at their regular meeting in June.

Trumier explained to the board that after the integration they could begin to welcome students and parents into the portal.

“We can have the electronic handshake with students and parents where the students can log on and have the opportunity to see their portal and we will start engaging the parents on the ability to see the portal as well. So it’s a lot of work that’s occurring right now. It’s an exciting time for our school division,” she said.

The curriculum team at the administrative level, along with coordinators and school staff, are working on completing the transition.

“On our website we do have information and the login information for our parents. We are pretty excited by this and looking forward to having our families engage on this directly.” Trumier said.

The division is also transitioning to new library technology this school year. Their previous program L4U, was out of date. In March they transitioned to a new program called Insignia

Insignia was selected after a request for proposals (RFP) and multiple presentations were made to staff.

The software is fully integrated and will not require two platforms for library resources (L4U) and textbooks (TipWeb). Insignia allows all libraries in the system to catalogue and circulate items. The libraries will be able to keep track of all resources a student has on loan in one place. They have already done some in-service training.

“We will have to continue with some ongoing training. But you can literally search if you have more textbooks at one school if you are short a textbook at another school, or if there is something in our resource at St. John and St. Anne would like to use it, we can search. Our resources become more efficient and we can just send them,” Trumier said.

Almost 100 students choose online learning option in Prince Albert

There are nearly 100 students in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division  that have chosen the online learning option so far in this school year, the division’s board heard Monday.

“Approximately 200 students and parents have inquired about the program,” said director of education Lorel Trumier.

“Currently we have 97 registered online for kindergarten to Grade 8.”

The English programming is under the supervision of superintendent Tricia McEwen with support from coordinator Peggy Telfer. They are working with two full time teachers to launch the program.

“It’s exciting to get this pioneering program off the ground for our school division,” Trumier said.

The French Immersion side of the program is under the direction of superintendent Robert Tessier and coordinator Elizabeth Blondeau. This side of the programming has one full time teacher working with it.

They are also working with another consultant to implement the structure and support programming.

The online programming at St. Mary High School is taking place through staff members assigned to the courses. Registration is still ongoing and will conclude at the end of September.

“Today was the first day with all of the students in all of our buildings, so I am looking forward to seeing how the enrolment process has occurred,” Trumier said on Monday.

The online learning option was launched on August 20.

Catholic Division selected to have audit assessed by provincial auditor

Each year school divisions in the province are chosen to have their audits randomly selected to be assessed by the provincial auditor’s office. This year, for the first time since 2014, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division was among the divisions chosen.

 “As a matter of process our school division annually goes through an audit through our audit firm which is Deloitte. And additionally this year the provincial auditor has added randomly selected school divisions to audits for different elements in the educational sector and so our school division will participate in an audit as well,” director of education Lorel Trumier said.

At their regular meeting on Monday, September 14 the board of education had a phone conference with both Erica Bailey of Deloitte Prince Albert and Nicole Dressler of the Provincial Auditor to update on the process. Bailey broke down the audit service plan for the division. This included impacts on the audit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, identification of audit risks, an explanation of communication requirements, a timeline, revised audit standards and a confirmation of change letter.

The Deloitte audit will serve as the basis for the province to look at procedures, protocols and other parts of the audit. The audit timeline was developed after consultation with administration and meets all reporting requirements of the Ministry of Education and Office of the Provincial Auditor.

“Then they will do some recommendations for some work around any elements that they would like us to improve,” Trumier explained.

The audit will be for the fiscal year of 2019-2020, which ended on August 31.

“We look forward to seeing what the provincial auditor does with our processes because we always know that we can make them stronger and make them better as we go through these processes,” Trumier said.

The reporting to the provincial auditor will focus on the adequacy of the system of internal controls in the division, the compliance with legislative authorities and any matters that should be brought to the attention of the Legislative Assembly.

Impacts on the audit by the pandemic include a focus on effects, considering alternative methods to obtain audit evidence and a reassessment of risks related to financial reporting.

Other divisions randomly selected included the North East School Division (NESD), Prairie Spirit School Division, Regina School Division, Saskatoon School Division, St. Paul’s Roman Catholic School Division, Northern Lights School Division, Regina Catholic School Division and Southeast Cornerstone School Division.

The board of education accepted the 2020 audit service plan and the information of the provincial auditor as presented.

City of Melfort partners in ‘Smart City’ initiative

In late August SaskTel announced that they had partnered with the City of Melfort to launch a “Smart City” initiative.

The focus of the plan is on bringing practical and innovative solutions to the city to improve current operations and optimize future community development.

“Our government is excited to see the City of Melfort establish itself as prairie hub for smart city technology,” Minister Responsible for SaskTel Don Morgan said in a release.

“SaskTel is in the ideal position to ensure Saskatchewan communities of all sizes can capitalize on the explosive growth we are seeing worldwide in smart city solutions.”

 Through a Memorandum of Understanding, SaskTel and the City of Melfort have adopted a Smart City Innovation Sandbox model to spur innovation and empower both parties to rapidly evaluate new technologies, tools and software products in a flexible and collaborative way. Already, the partnership has helped to uncover ways for the community to find cost-savings and reduce energy use.

“SaskTel is proud to be a partner is this exciting initiative for the City of Melfort,” SaskTel president and CEO Doug Burnett said.

“While there are many core services that SaskTel is well known for, like cellular and broadband services, we also have the expertise and ability to facilitate bigger, turning-point projects with customer focused solutions.”

With a population of over 6,000, Melfort started working with SaskTel last year to explore and research possible solutions for issues facing their community. Stakeholder sessions with city council and local leadership focused on prioritizing community needs and finding the most appropriate and sustainable solutions for local circumstances.

As part of the next stages, Melfort and SaskTel are working together on design-thinking exercises to map new ways to improve digital citizen engagement and other aspects of community life. SaskTel also plans to launch LoRaWAN®, their new long-range low power wireless network, locally further enabling an array of Smart City use cases for both the municipality and the community.

“From the beginning, we have focused on making the lives of residents better by taking a people-first approach,” Melfort City Manager Ryan Danberg said.

“This is not just about implementing new technology; it’s about engaging our citizens to create a better quality of life and more prosperous future for Melfort. This project will offer our city and residents lasting benefits, all while showcasing innovative systems and technologies from Saskatchewan.”

Collaborations to date have already proven successful. In addition to putting forward ways to improve local connectivity, SaskTel leveraged their existing relationship with technology partner, Saskatchewan’s Greenwave Innovations to pilot an integrated platform for environmental and resource monitoring in the city.

 “Much like SaskTel, we entered into this project to find problem-solving solutions that would offer tangible benefits for the community,” Dean Clark, President of Greenwave Innovations, said.

“As it turns out, SaskTel’s expertise in connectivity, data storage, and software services were a great match with our knowledge in energy management and conservation.”

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10 more cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday

The province reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

There are seven new cases in the Saskatoon zone and single cases in the North East and Regina zones. One case’s location is currently pending.

To date, there have been 21 cases linked to the social gathering in Saskatoon initially reported in the provincial news release on Sept. 13. Contact tracing efforts are underway, and it is likely that other cases will be identified before this chain of transmission is resolved.

Of the to 1,751 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 107 are considered active.

Investigations completed thus far have found that 32 of the 107 current active cases are from communal living settings.

The recovered number now sits at 1,620.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 remains at 24.

According to case numbers by health zone data, Prince Albert—the North Central 2 zone—currently has one active case.

North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has no active cases. North Central 2, consisting of communities south of the city, also has no active cases.

The most active cases are 47 in the Saskatoon zone and in second place is the Central West zone with 24 active cases.

Four people are currently receiving inpatient care in Saskatoon.

The total number of cases is 1,751. Of those, 431 cases are from the South area (221 South West, 197 South Central and 13 South East), 357 cases are from the Far North area (349 Far North West and eight Far North East), 322 cases are from the Saskatoon area, 271 cases are from the North area (131 North West, 73 North Central and 67 North East), 229 cases are from the Central area (168 Central West and 61 Central East), 140 cases are from the Regina area and one case has a pending location.

There are currently 69 cases that are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances.

Of the 1,751 cases in the province: 262 cases are related to travel, 873 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 520 have no known exposures and 97 are under investigation by local public health.

The age breakdown shows 290 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 574 cases are in the 20-39-age range, 536 are in the 40-59-age range, 293 are in the 60-79-age range and 59 are in the 80-plus range.

The gender breakdown shows 51 per cent of the cases being females and 49 per cent being males.

As of Sept. 16, 163,151 COVID-19 tests have been performed in the province, an increase of 1,218 from yesterday.

As of Sept. 14 when other provincial and national numbers were available from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Saskatchewan’s per capita rate was 116,000 people tested per million population. The national rate was 167,392 people tested per million population.

RM of Buckland recognizes work of volunteer

The RM of Buckland recognized volunteer Wendy Fyrk during their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 14. Fyrk has been volunteering as part of the organization Buckland Dog Rescue to voluntarily do some animal control services in the RM and the council wanted to thank her for her service.

“She has done a lot for the RM. When we had meetings from time to time we had nothing but dog problems and I bet you there was some of our council meetings took better than half of that,” Deputy Reeve and Division 6 councillor Bill Hayes said.

Fyrk is married to Reeve Don Fyrk and has done the work on a volunteer basis.

 “Since you have unofficially and voluntarily stepped up to fill the gap, we have seen noticeable improvements for the community, our office and the animals in our RM. Your care and dedication have seen hundreds of animal get home safely,” the letter said.

The council of the RM gave her a recognition certificate, $500 donation and a catch pole to assist in her efforts.

The recognition certificate recognized Fyrk’s dedicated efforts towards the proper treatment and control of dogs in the RM of Buckland.

“We thank you for your dedicated efforts, and hope this small gesture will help you continue reuniting animals with their owners as well as rescuing those that have been abandoned,” the letter concluded.

At a previous meeting the council, excluding Don Fyrk, agreed to do something for Wendy for all that is done by Buckland Dog Rescue. Buckland Dog Rescue keeps people of the RM informed of not only missing dogs, but all missing or rescued animals including parrots, an owl, a llama and cats.

“The woman has put a lot of time and a lot of effort into stuff like that. I think she deserves a little bit of credit and recognition,” Hayes said.

In the presentation Administrator Cori Sarginson thanked Fyrk for all of her work for the RM and called her work both tireless and deeply appreciated.

 “It is entirely my pleasure because I can help and I have a passion for it and I’m glad you allow me to do it,” Fyrk said.

She explained that she was initially questioned as to why she does it and has since become an important part of the community.

“I didn’t want to be on payroll I just wanted the permission to be able to do it and I am very thankful that you guys gave me permission to do it and I really appreciate it. I think it made a difference in the RM and I am going to keep trying and hopefully I can educate people to take care of their animals,”

According to their Facebook page “the Buckland Dog Rescue is dedicated to the advocacy of dogs in the R.M. of Buckland No. 491. We believe in rescuing dogs from running at large, abuse and abandonment. We ask that all residence of the R.M. license their dogs so that they can be immediately returned to their homes.”

Sarginson said in the presentation that Buckland Dog Rescue has helped so many people and animals and made a huge difference in the operations of the RM.

Fyrk and her organization works through her contacts with the Prince Albert SPCA and other animal rescue organizations and friends of animals around Saskatchewan.

“She goes the extra mile, if the animals get lost she tries to help find them and get them back to their owners which I am sure is very well appreciated by the people. It takes a lot of dealings off of the RM,” Hayes said.

“I still get the odd call for dogs running at large. I think she has done an excellent job,” Hayes added.

The Buckland Dog Rescue’s first fundraising event was a Steak Night in December, 2013.

RM of Prince Albert to explore funding models for Sunshine Road security light project

Residents of Sunshine Road located east of Prince Albert noticing an increase in incidents on the road came to the RM of Prince Albert’s regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 10 with a proposed solution.

The delegation, made up of Janice Olesko and Regan Grimwood, presented a conceptual pilot project that the council will now look into ways of funding.

“The funding numbers he had described there was going to be over $80,000 for each unit. At a total cost of touching $45,000, five units equally spaced along five properties. They are solar powered so not requiring any additional infrastructure other than foundation,” Reeve Eric Schmalz said.

The Latitude 57 off-grid lighting system is designed for use for things such as security, parks, pathways and parking lots.

The system is custom built and size, shape, color and design can be ordered to suit needs. The latitude 57 is automatic and programmable and includes a remote control. The system is manufactured by Edo Grid Solutions based in Langley, British Columbia. After the delegation, council made a resolution to agree to explore alternative funding options for the pilot project proposed by the residents of Sunshine Road.

The infrastructure would then be financed through a tax levy on the residents of Sunshine Road who participate.

“There is options for the residents because the residents would essentially be financing these fixtures using the RM as the administrating arm of their financing through the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB). What would happen was eventually the property owners would own the infrastructure and then they could do whatever they want. There was talk that they wanted to put cameras on the poles and stuff like that. And if the RM owns those it becomes a liability issue,” Schmalz said.

Grimwood, who owns Prince Albert Alarm Systems, came with a complete cost breakdown. The retail cost is $6,497.50 per unit with a labour cost of $580 each per stand (including boom truck rental). The screw pile cost is $1,343.75. The total cost per unit is $8,421.25 for a total cost of $42,106.25 for all five.

The matter was discussed in a meeting of concerned citizens with Division 2 councillor Tyler Hazelwood. Sunshine Road is a popular spot for illegal activity and congregating Hazelwood said. The five people want the five light systems at the end of their driveway.

Grimwood explained at the meeting that he would be open to a tax levy because of all of the problems that have happened on the road.

Schmalz explained at the meeting that more people should form community groups like the one on Sunshine Road to serve as advocates for issues as it would simplify the process and give the areas a single voice when talking to council. The meeting with Hazelwood was an unofficial community association meeting.

They want to have one point of contact and in this case, Grimwood agreed to act as the intermediary.

“We are trying to be very proactive to protect our community,” Olesko said.

She made a very impassioned presentation on trying to deal with criminal activity on Sunshine Road.

“I know from experience that we have had property stolen and damage and garbage and the police say ‘do you have insurance’ well what does that matter? Or we couldn’t get here because we were so busy at Muskoday, well excuse me I also pay taxes,” she said.

She explained that the RCMP and the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) are both supportive of the concept.

Half of Sunshine Road is located in the City and half is located in the RM.

Schmalz praised the delegation for their work in getting the concept together.

“I want to commend you all both who are present today and anyone else who is involved with this. As an RM council and in my past life as a police officer you get phone calls and we get phone calls that we have a problem and we want a solution but there is not a lot of commitment by individuals making those calls to find solutions themselves or help us find a solution that we can help the issue. You have that here and we appreciate that. Regardless of how this plays out it is the engagement of citizens like you that make our efforts more cohesive,” he said.

“We appreciate everything that you guys are doing and we appreciate your willingness to come here today and make this presentation.”

RM of Prince Albert clarifies mail-in ballot option

The RM of Prince Albert cleaned up some issues with their mail-in ballot process at their regular council meeting on Thursday, September 10. The council discussed and then passed some amendments to make the new concept easier for the November 9 election. “We are trying to preserve the security and the validity of those ballots,” Reeve Eric Schmalz said.

The RM has had a number of people interested in the option. The issue was the mail out process, according to administrator Roxanne Roy. Nominations open September 23 and nomination day is October 7.

The process can now be done in person, by mail or by email. The municipality was a minor trendsetter putting in place the option before other jurisdictions, like the City of Prince Albert, added their own,

 “The dominoes fell into place based on, I don’t think they were looking to us, and then all of a sudden it started rolling because of the current pandemic is what caused it,” Schmalz said.

“Actually the day I got elected I brought it up with council and then we passed the actual bylaw last year. I think we were one of the few in the province to have it at that time,” Schmalz said.

They are amending instructions in the vote registration form, which will be mailed out to interested residents.

Whenever an individual phones to make a request they must present a copy of their driver’s license or other form of identification. A ballot security envelope template had already been created and council discussed changes to make the matter more clear.

The ballot security envelope is not included with the actual ballot.

The voter who requests the option will mail two envelopes, one with the ballot and a copy of government ID will be entered into the second envelope.  The information will appear in the confirmation envelope. One piece must identify the address and the second must verify identity similar to what is in place from the Saskatchewan Government.

The package will not be available until after October 7.

The RM is posting reminders as the election on both Facebook and their website to get residents ready.

Prince Albert school divisions receive funding from province

Two school divisions in Prince Albert were among the 46 approved by the Province on Tuesday, September 8.

What each school division will be using the funding for is not clear, but a number of projects are under way in both divisions.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division received $699,880 and the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division received $798,330.

Other divisions in the area who received funding included the North East School Division (NESD) located in Melfort and serving Melfort, Nipawin, Tisdale and area. It was funded $420,000.

The independent Christian school the Northeast Christian Academy located in Melfort was funded $25,564.

The Conseil des ecoles fransaskoises received $2,649,488. The amount which goes to the Prince Albert portion of the French division is not clear.

Double-digit COVID-19 cases reported with 13 on Friday

The province reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The last time there was double digit cases reported in the province was Sept. 7.

There are seven cases in the Central East, four in the Saskatoon zone and single cases in the Far North East and Regina zones.

Of the to 1,688 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 66 are considered active.

The recovered number now sits at 1,598.
Investigations completed thus far have found that 19 of 66 active cases are in communal living settings.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 remains at 24.

According to the new and Active Case breakdown, Prince Albert—the North Central 2 zone—currently has four active cases.

North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has no active cases. North Central 2, consisting of communities south of the city, also has no active cases.

The most active cases are 20 in the Saskatoon zone, in second place is the Central East zone with 11 active cases, Regina is third with seven active cases and the Central West zone is fourth with six active cases.

Two individual are receiving inpatient care in Saskatoon.

The total number of cases is 1,688. Of those 428 cases from the south area (218 south west, 197 south central and 13 south east), 357 cases from the far north area (349 far north west and eight far north east), 282 cases from the Saskatoon area, 270 cases from the north area (131 north west, 73 north central and 66 north east212 cases from the central area (167 central west, and 45 central east) and 139 cases from the Regina area.

There are currently 69 cases who are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances.

Of the 1,688 cases in the province: 257 cases are related to travel, 841 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 507 have no known exposures and 83 are under investigation by local public health.

The age breakdown shows 281 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 548 cases are in the 20-39 age range, 515 are in the 40-59 age range, 286 are in the 60-79 age range and 58 are in the 80-plus range.

The government said on Thursday that it will be providing a weekly report on its website, detailing testing numbers and cases in children between the ages of zero and 19. This is to provide more information about the trends of COVID-19 cases in schools.

The first report will be released on Sept. 17, which will include numbers for the week of Sept. 6 to 12.

The gender breakdown shows 51 per cent of the cases being females and 49 per cent being males.

As of Sept. 11, 155,332 COVID-19 tests have been performed in the province an increase of 1,683 over yesterday.

As of Sept. 8, when other provincial and national numbers were available from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Saskatchewan’s per capita rate was 110,427 people tested per million population. The national rate was 159,076 people tested per million population.

Possible exposures to COVID-19 at Regina airport

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning residents of potential COVID-19 exposure at the Regina Airport on September 6.

According to the alert, issued Friday, an individual who was at the airport tested positive for COVID-19.

“A COVID-19 positive person deplaned at the airport at 9:30 p.m. September 6, 2020, collected luggage and left the airport at 10 p.m.. The person was on Air Canada flight 7947, arriving from Toronto,” the SHA release stated.

Anyone who was at this location during this time should self-monitor for 14 days. If you were at these locations and have or had any symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate immediately and call 811 to arrange testing. Symptoms include cold and flu-like symptoms, muscle/joint pain, dizziness, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty feeding for children, loss of sense of taste or smell, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

The SHA sends out public alerts when health officials are uncertain about the number of known close contacts COVID-19 patients had before being tested. In those cases, they notify the community about locations the patient may have visited while infectious.