COVID19 Updates

For the most up-to-date information on current public health measures that apply to schools please visit: https://www.alberta.ca/k-12-learning-during-covid-19.aspx

All students, parents and visitors planning to enter the school building must complete this daily health checklist.

Update: Monday February 28th, 2022

Dear Changemaker Parents, 

 

The Government of Alberta announced on Saturday that COVID-19 related protocols and guidelines previously required of schools will be removed effective March 1, 2022. Based on voluntarily shared information, we believe that roughly 80% of our students and staff (or their close-contact family members) experienced and recovered from COVID-19 during early December 2021 to early February 2022. With that information and as we have done since the start of the pandemic, we will be aligning our approach with this new government direction. 

 

What that means for our school this week: 

  • Cohorting: We will no longer be cohorting our classes or divisions.

    • When we have had time as a staff to discuss and re-adjust, we will be able to return to previous programming such as buddy reading and mentorship programs, ability grouping for math/literacy, multi-age choice clubs, multi-age language programs, indoor field trips and assemblies in a variety of locations. We may look into other collaborative opportunities among divisions both indoors and outside as Spring approaches.

  • Masks: Masks will be optional for all adults and students. 

    • It will be important that we show empathy and understanding to those students, staff and parents who wish to continue to wear masks at school. 

  • Music: The barriers that prevented us from offering our students certain aspects of our music programming (such as multi-age singing and wind instruments) have been removed. We hope to come up with a new plan for quality music instruction by Spring Break.

  • Parent involvement and volunteering: We look forward to being able to have more of our community witness and participate in the day-to-day magic that happens at our school. 

  • Case reporting: We will no longer be keeping track of cases or disclosing any other private or individual health information to our community. 

 

Several health practices will continue at our school: 

  • Our sickness policy and illness waiver remains: please do not send your child to school if they are unwell according to our guidelines found HERE

  • Zoom will continue to be an option for parent conferences and prospective parent meetings.  

  • Encouraging proper hygiene such as frequent hand-washing and sneezing/coughing into elbow.

  • Cleaning of high-touch surfaces by teaching staff and use of professional cleaning crews every evening. 

  • Separate entrances, exits and locker spaces for each division.

  • Spending plenty of time outdoors every day.

 

As this step is new for all of us, we ask for your patience and understanding as we all adapt to this new normal. We know that these changes are a relief for some and stressful for others. It will take time for everyone to feel comfortable with an endemic approach after two years of living with uncertainty. We are grateful for the ongoing support of our families, staff and students throughout these challenging times. 

 

We look forward to a great week and an exciting and productive month of March! 

Update: February 17th, 2022

CHANGES THAT APPLY TO OUR SCHOOL: 

  • Masking is now optional for Div 2 students and is optional for students on the bus. (Masking for younger students continues to be optional as always). 

  • We will continue with all other protocols such as indoor cohorting, virtual information sessions, frequent hand-washing, extra cleaning measures, staff masking, and avoiding having non-essential visitors in the building until the next Alberta update in March

Update: January 6th, 2022

Dear Changemaker Families and Staff, 

 

We know the past two years haven’t been easy on anyone, particularly parents, students and all of us in the education sector. Every time a new government announcement is made regarding COVID-19, we notice an uptick in parent and student anxiety, a much higher workload of e-mails to respond to, as well as an increase in student behaviour challenges at school. Our Board of Directors and myself have been faced with making many difficult decisions that we know will always lead to some parents feeling uneasy or upset one way or another. We have always taken the approach that our school learning spaces and operations are unique, that our student population is small, and that our vision and mission requires that we make decisions that balance both the physical safety with the mental/emotional health of our students, staff and school community. 

 

It is important to note that, to date, we have never had in-school transmission or an outbreak at our school. However, we know several families and staff members who were quarantined at some point over the Winter Break with symptoms and/or a positive COVID-19 test. AHS does expect that a large number of individuals and families will test positive at some point over the next couple of months. We are pleased to say that all of those families and staff members who have had COVID-19 recently, reported mild symptoms or recovered fairly quickly and are now feeling well (and have now tested negative). While health authorities around the world report that this Omicron variant is very mild in comparison to other variants, we will all still need to remain vigilant in keeping our children home from school when they are unwell because this variant does spread much more easily in both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals. Ultimately, we want to continue to keep our school open to in-person learning. 

 

I believe I speak on behalf of our entire staff and teaching team when I say that we are looking forward to the return of in-person school on Monday! Based on the information shared in our meeting today with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Minister of Education, there are no major changes to our COVID protocols at this time. Any minor adjustments have been outlined below: 

 

  • We will continue to cohort by division indoors. We will place greater emphasis on having our Kindergarten and Div 1 students cohort by class while cases are so high. This will allow us to move only one particular class at a time to short-term online/remote learning if absolutely necessary (if there happens to be an outbreak in just one particular class). 

 

  • We will continue to emphasize hand-washing. With a much smaller student population and many more sinks in relation to most other schools, we find that our hand-washing practice takes less time and is better supervised than most larger schools. Students are already accustomed to many additional good hygiene practices at our school. 

 

  • Our HVAC systems have been carefully inspected and approved. Additionally, we have outside doors in each division that open and close frequently allowing fresh air to flow through the classrooms. Finally, whenever the weather permits (and our idea of ‘weather permitting’ is very broad), our students spend significantly more time outdoors than the average student in Alberta.

 

  • We will continue to make use of our generous and collaborative team of teachers, admin and support staff who volunteer to use their prep periods, breaks and days off (part-time teachers) to ensure that our substitute teaching needs are covered internally by those who already are working in our school and know your children well. 

 

  • Masks continue to be optional for Div 1s and Kindergarten students *except for any requirements outlined for the post-isolation period*.  

For those who choose to send their child with a mask please read the following mask recommendations:  

-3-layer cloth masks with filter is the recommended school mask for children (AHS, January 2022). 

-Masks should be comfortable and fit well for full coverage.

-Masks must have break-away lanyards so children do not drop their masks on the floor when they are not using them. 

-Masks are only effective if children are not constantly touching or removing their masks. Parents must work with their children at home to ensure they know how to hygienically wear a mask. 

-Single-use masks must be appropriately discarded after use. Please send at least 2-3 masks per day. 

-Cloth masks need to be washed daily. Please send at least 2 clean masks per day. 

-Masks do not need to be worn while students are: outdoors, exercising, quiet distanced work periods, when facing forwards and listening to instructions, or when eating and drinking. 

-Teachers and staff members will do all they can to support your child’s proper mask wearing throughout the day as per your family’s instructions. Many students have no issues with mask use. However, we do know that there are students who consistently demonstrate that they are unable to wear their mask appropriately or hygienically and we reserve the right to determine the most effective preventative measures for each child in our care during school hours.   

 

  • Quarantine/Isolation Requirements. Please refer to the AHS website for the most up-to-date requirements. Based on our meeting today, we understand the current requirements to be: 

 

Positive COVID test for fully vaccinated (2 doses) individuals:

-5 day quarantine at home 

-5 day full-time masking at all times at school, work and out in public and should distance while eating or drinking.

 

Positive COVID test for non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated (1 dose) students: 

-10 day quarantine at home

-return to school when symptoms are fully resolved 

 

Unwell students with symptoms unrelated to COVID

-re-read our general sickness waiver

-follow the waiver guidelines and stay home until feeling well enough to attend school 

 

  • Close Contacts:

-If a household member receives a positive test, it is strongly recommended that all household members regardless of symptoms take at least two rapid tests within a 3 day period and follow the above quarantine requirements. Close contacts who have symptoms must not return to school until symptoms resolve regardless of a negative test.

*Students who have a close household contact who is positive but the student has no symptoms and a negative test may still attend school. 

*Parents no longer need to inform the school if they have a positive case in their home and schools have been asked by AHS to just keep track of absences. Schools are no longer authorized to collect information on close contacts or active cases. (January 12, 2022)

 

  • Rapid Tests

-We now have 1 rapid test kit per student and basic medical masks for parents to pick-up if they would like them. They are in the main office. (January 10, 2022)

-Schools are not allowed to test children. 

 

  • Vaccines

-Vaccines continue to be a strongly recommended protective measure by AHS. AHS notes that vaccines do not prevent individuals from contracting COVID-19, particularly the Omicron variant, but can reduce severity and length of symptoms.

-There are no vaccine mandates or restrictions exemptions programs (REP) for schools. Some schools have chosen to implement a staff/parent/volunteer vaccine mandate to enter their school. This was a choice they made on an individual school/Board basis and is not required of independent schools. We will not be implementing this policy.

 

*Please note: it is unlawful to deny any child access to their school due to vaccine status in Alberta therefore we are not collecting this information. Schools are not allowed to create vaccine mandates for students in Alberta and it is against the law to vaccinate any child/student without formal, written parental consent in Alberta. 

 

As always, every parent must do their own research and make an informed risk-benefit analysis that makes sense for their own family and circumstances. We are only able to offer our home-school package to students who are in quarantine. We do not have the staffing or resources to offer long-term remote/hybrid schooling unless one entire class or our whole school is forced to move online for reasons beyond our control.

As always, we are very grateful for your patience, empathy, flexibility, resilience and understanding as our team navigates yet another year of twists and turns. Our teaching team has been working very hard this week to ensure that we have an incredible second term prepped and ready to go for your Changemakers! 

ARCHIVED

Update: October 9th, 2021

Dear Changemaker Families, 

 

Yesterday the Premier, the Minister of Education, and the Minister of Health announced new actions to manage COVID-19 in schools. This includes:

  • Public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools

  • Initiating contact notification in schools

  • Clarifying COVID-19 outbreak definitions

  • Providing rapid testing for K-6 schools experiencing outbreaks

  • In addition, where there have been three or more COVID-19 cases in a class over a five day period in K-6 schools a shift to at-home learning for that class will be required.

Starting in the week of October 12th, schools will be notified by Alberta Health Services if there is a student or staff member with a confirmed positive COVID19 test. Alberta Health Services will take over the lead on contact notification in schools and guidance for parents within the next several weeks

Upon legal advisement in relation to our unique school context and in alignment with our Board’s ethical views, our organization and school will not be implementing a policy that requires that anyone including our staff disclose their personal medical or health information to our organization, parents or stakeholders. However, for those who are concerned, based on voluntarily shared information, you may find comfort in knowing that it seems all of our teachers and employees are already fully vaccinated. Additionally, we continue to limit the number of visitors, volunteers and parents who enter our building regardless of vaccine status.

Regarding students who are eligible for the vaccine, Minister Adriana LaGrange recently sent this information for parents to read: 

 

"Alberta has no specific provincial legislation that requires K-12 students to have specific vaccinations to attend in person school. Alberta Education is not considering mandating vaccines for students in the K-12 education system. School authorities cannot deny their students access to education due to their immunization status. Moreover, every child in Alberta is entitled to have access to an education program as per the Section 3(1) of the Education Act.” 

We kindly ask that all of our school community members and parents continue to do their part and revisit the health waiver and sickness policy you signed at the start of the year.

Please direct any and all questions regarding the above information to the Head of School and/or the Board of Directors.

We understand these are trying times for everyone. We will continue to do all we can to keep our school community physically safe while carefully balancing the mental health needs of those in our building. Thank you for your continued trust, understanding and support. 

Update: September 15th, 2021

 

Dear Changemaker Families, 

 

In follow-up to the COVID19 Update earlier this evening by the Alberta Government and communications from both Minister LaGrange and Deputy Minister Andre Tremblay, I would like to share some additional details and changes that are specific to the Calgary Changemaker School: 

 

Newly Mandated Public Health Measures (Effective September 16th, 2021)

 

Masking

  • When indoors at school, masking will now be mandatory for students in grades 4-12 (Div 2) and for all staff and teachers. 

  • Please e-mail the Head of School if your child in Grades 4-7 has a medical mask exemption for the 2021-2022 school year so we can create a new note for their file this year. 

  • Please work with your child at home to ensure they understand proper mask use and mask hygiene. It is important they also understand that masks do not replace other types of good hygiene such as hand washing. Please see this PDF poster for more information on mask hygiene. 

  • Students will need a break-away mask-lanyard and at least two masks per day. Reusable masks should go home at the end of each day for washing. 

  • Students will continue to spend plenty of time outdoors without masks and will be provided with mask breaks for eating, drinking and quiet physically distanced work periods. PE and physical exercise will continue to take place outdoors and are not impacted by these new masking measures. 

  • Staff may take their masks off to eat, drink or work quietly at their desks at a distance from students and other staff members. Staff may also take their masks off in cases where the use of facial expression and/or speech-language instruction is essential as long as they are at a 2m distance from students. Staff will not wear masks outdoors.  

  • Masking is still optional for students in Kindergarten and Div 1 (Grades K-3) unless on a school bus.   

  • Parents, special guests and visitors are required to wear a mask when indoors and are to enter the school-side of the building by appointment only. We are always happy to assist you in the Main Office. Masks are not required outdoors. 

 

Cohorting

  • According to the guidelines, our entire school population is still small enough to be considered a single cohort. 

  • However, we will continue to do our best to cohort by division while indoors (Kindergarten, Div 1 and Div 2) as we already have been. This change will only affect a few students who are in multi-division choice clubs on Fridays, otherwise there are no other changes from our existing indoor or outdoor operations.

 

Physical activity in schools:

  • Students are not required to mask or maintain two-metre physical distancing during a physical activity such as physical education indoors although, at our school, PE and physical exercise takes place outdoors except in extreme weather. There are no restrictions on outdoor activities or outdoor classrooms.

  • Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

 

Outdoor Events:

  • For outdoor events where parents and/or guests attend, physical distancing is required between non-cohorting families. There is a limit of 200 individuals at outdoor events and guests may only enter the building for bathroom use.

 

*Please continue to be mindful of the health-waiver you signed at the start of the school year. Students should not be attending school if they are sick or showing symptoms of any potentially contagious illness. 

 

Although there are not too many changes at our school, the changes recently announced for the whole province may be very upsetting to some and more of a relief for others. Please continue to be kind and empathetic to everyone’s unique lived experiences and varying levels of frustration and anxiety. 

 

We promise to continue to deliver an exceptional, empathetic, safe and joyful environment for your young Changemakers regardless of what comes this year. 

 

Thank you for your understanding. 

Current School Year - Updated: August 17, 2021

  • Collectively, we were able to successfully keep all of our students and staff free from COVID19 last year. We will continue in a similar manner this year: carefully balancing student mental health with physical health and making adjustments as we monitor the situation in our neighbouring communities closely.  ​

  • Sickness Policy & COVID19. We feel our best defence against all contagions is to implement a strict 'stay at home until well' sickness policy. This policy relies on a collaborative effort by our entire school community and is outlined in greater detail in our school waivers.

  • At this time, mask use for all students and staff continues to be optional (except on buses as per current provincial mandates) as our class sizes and school population remains small.

  • We will cohort by division indoors during the first few weeks at which time we will assess the situation and provide any changes or updates. We will not be cohorting while outdoors. 

  • We will continue to monitor COVID19 cases within our school community and the overall hospitalization rates in our province and adjust as needed. 

  • We will continue with increased hand washing and hygiene education as well as enhanced school cleaning protocols.

  • We still have a basic school supply list to limit the sharing of high-touch items.

  • We will continue to limit the number of adults and visitors inside the building for the time being and will continue to offer the option of virtual meetings. 

  • We still have our automatic UVC germicidal lamps in every bathroom and AHS approved disinfectant spray to use on surfaces in classrooms.

  • As always, we plan to spend as much time outdoors as we can! 

  • ​You can also support your child's immune system and wellbeing by ensuring they get plenty of quality sleep at night, eat balanced and healthy foods, and allow for downtime or activities that lower their stress levels and/or support mental health. (Read the research here).

  • We will keep our registered families posted if there are any changes. For the latest government and Alberta Education updates please visit: COVID19 Updates.

(July 1 2021)

Update July 2021: Alberta Education

  • Specific health best practices will be developed over the summer and recommendations may vary by age group. Extensive health measures in place for 2020-21 will be eased or removed.

    • It is expected that students and staff will no longer be required to wear a mask.

    • Some transmission prevention practices will continue, including increased cleaning of high traffic and high touch areas, staying at home when sick and hand cleaning hygiene practices.

    • Isolation and quarantine requirements, along with contact tracing requirements, will continue to evolve as immunization rates increase.

    • By fall 2021, the majority of Albertans 12 years and older will have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. Vaccines for children under 12 are still in clinical trials.

  • If the COVID-19 situation changes, the plan includes 2 contingency scenarios similar to those implemented in the current school year that will guide K to 12 schools.

June 30 2021: Update re: return to school

“I’m pleased that students can expect a return to a normal school year in September. With the continuation of Alberta’s Open for Summer plan, Alberta’s government expects the extensive health measures currently in place in schools will be eased or lifted. We have a detailed plan for next school year that includes contingency scenarios for continuing student learning in case there is a significant change in the COVID-19 situation. Alberta Education together with Alberta Health will provide more details about the upcoming school year [at the end of] the summer.”

-Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

May 26 2021: Update re: vaccinations

"It is important to note that the decision to be vaccinated is a personal choice, and the decision made by parents/guardians for their children is private. In accordance with Alberta’s privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, staff must respect the health privacy of students, including their vaccination status. At this time, school administrators or staff should not inquire about or collect vaccination information from students. In the unlikely event this should this change, Alberta Education will advise school authorities accordingly." 

-Andre Tremblay, Deputy Minister of Education

 

(Last School Year, August 1 2020):

 

The province has announced Scenario 1 meaning “near-normal” school operations.

Highlights of our Changemaker School COVID19 efforts:

  1. We are focusing on cohorting rather than masking. We already planned on having an average regular class size of 12 with very spacious classrooms. We are already set up as small, full-time cohorts and each division has its own entrances, exits and bathrooms and our student common areas are outdoors.

  2. As our entire school is capped at 50 students for the 2020 school year and each class will have an average of 12 students, if the government announced a switch to scenario 2 we should not have to make any major modifications. 

  3. As an outdoor focused school much of our time will be spent outdoors. Gym and music classes were already planned to be outdoors for most of this year.

  4. We have installed automatic touchless UVC germicidal-LED switch lights, UV light hand dryers and automatic soap dispensers in each bathroom and have budgeted for more soap and more hand sanitizer.

  5. We have hired professionals to fully manage the cleaning/sanitization/disinfection of our school daily. 

  6. We have made an effort to replace most of our seating, rugs and pillow fabrics with wipeable/washable vinyl or marine fabric material and have added removable chair covers that can be easily washed for anything that can't be wiped down. We have a washer and dryer in our school building for washing fabric materials as needed.

  7. We will be issuing parents with a modified school supply list for so that every student will have their own personal items to limit the sharing of high-touch materials. 

  8. We have established a collaborative culture that includes teachers and staff working together to cover sick leaves and to support at-home learning for children who are sick. We have in-house certified substitute teachers as well. 

  9. Finally, we have a clearly laid out re-entry plan posted on our website that balances mental health needs with physical health needs that was carefully created with Alberta Health guidelines in mind and in consultation with our parents, students and faculty.