Wednesday , 21 October 2020
A classroom. (Pixabay)

School divisions release back-to-school plans

Parents have a better picture of what the upcoming school year will look like for their children as the Lloydminster school divisions announce their reopening plans.

Saskatchewan released its Safe Schools Plan on Tuesday outlining guidelines for all 27 divisions in the province.

On March 16, 2020, the province announced an indefinite suspension of classes in all schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lloydminster Public School Division and the Lloydminster Catholic School Division plans were created based upon the Government of Saskatchewan and Response and Planning Team’s guidelines.

LPSD builds preliminary plan for 2020/2021 after parent engagement

In the 21 page document, Director of Education Todd Robinson said the plan is meant to be flexible, but responsive as issues surrounding COVID-19 are constantly evolving.

“The focus of this plan is to create a safe, flexible and collaborative reopening of our schools and services based on the direction we have been provided to date,” he said.

The guidelines also incorporate feedback the division had with staff and students through an online Thought Exchange.

Between May 21st to June 5th, Parents were asked what worked well with remote learning and what are some improvements that could be made if the division went in this route for the upcoming school year.

The exchange has 1,128 participants with 1,376 written “thoughts” and 33,257 ratings from parents which can be viewed on the LPSD’s website.

Staff was asked to submit feedback between June 18th to the 23rd about what should be considered before staff and students return to classrooms in September.

Over 300 staff members participated with 392 submissions and over 15,000 ratings.

The LPSD said its intention for the plan is to inform everyone involved with its schools about public health measures and to make sure they’re implemented to ensure a safe environment for students.

Under the guidance of the province, limited exposure between students will be a key focus with a cohort system being issued.

This means a set group of students and staff will stick together throughout the day to decrease the potential spread of the virus by limiting contact.

This will also help contact tracing if a positive case was to occur.

Elementary and middle schools plans will feature:

  • A homeroom format to reduce student transitions with lunch breaks being taken in the room as well;
  • It will have staggered entrances/exits, and recess time;
  • Student movement will be reduced by having a teacher moving classrooms if needed;
  • Outdoor spaces will be utilized for activities and classes;
  • Seating will be set in rows so students aren’t facing one another and will also be assigned in classrooms and on the school bus.

Additionally, middle school students will be able to take option classes online.

Lloydminster Comprehensive High School will follow a similar plan to other schools, but with a few changes:

  • A block schedule to reduce student transitions;
  • Cohort lunch breaks and students will be encouraged to go home for lunch.

The school division will supply masks, gloves and other PPE if required. Hand sanitizer will available in each classroom, at the entrances and exits, and other regularly used spaces as well as a video on proper handwashing which will be posted on social media.

Schools are expected to promote proper handwashing practices, develop a hand hygiene schedule and supervise the use of hand sanitizer.

To limit physical contact, administrative offices will have plexi-screens and staff is asked to use a phone or video conferencing to meet with staff where possible. The use of technology is encouraged to avoid large gatherings throughout the division.

Public entry will be limited in schools, and parents or caregivers will be required to follow safety guideline while in the school, all visitors must sign in upon arrival and answer self-screening questions, parents are asked to remain outside when picking up or dropping off their kids.

All high touchpoints will be sanitized or removed, the division also looks to reduce shared items, and physical distancing will be constantly implemented.

Schools are asked to have a designated isolation area for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

The school division will have a remote learning team for a full time and blended curriculum if needed by families.

Field trips and activities requiring group transportation will be cancelled, as well as international or out of province trips. Schools will look to offer extra-curricular activities that are approved by the province.

All staff will be required to take safety training which includes proper hygiene, safe use of disinfectants and COVID-19 health screening and self-monitoring.

The LPSD’s plan, which was updated on August 1st, can be found on their website.

LCSD set guidelines, training for psychological aid

The division states its plans, that was last updated on July 31st, may evolve as health risks increase.

Similarly to the public school division, the LCSD has had conversations with parents over the past few months with a survey being conducted in June.

The LCSD said 42 people are trained in Psychological First Aid and will be made available for other staff members to take. All staff members have access to Kids These Days online training to connect with students.

Their counselling team created an offsite response plan to check-in with students and parents through counselor@lcsd.ca. The team also includes in-person and virtual counselling support.

The division offers a resiliency course for Grade 9 students and 72 programs such as Worry Woes, Mind-Up, and Dealing with Our Emotions which are used in all five elementary schools using wellness coaches.

The plan states all staff had taken training on Trauma Informed Practices in schools for teachers and for students. Staff was in LCSD schools from June 15th to 30th for sessions on the reopening and training has continued this month.

Principals will be reviewing new procedures during the first five days of classes with an LCSD Q & A document which will be updated throughout August and September.

The first week of September will see substitute teachers receiving training on the school’s new processes and procedures.

The division’s guidelines match that of the LPSD which includes a focus on cohorts, sanitation and social distancing requirements for the upcoming school year.

Students will be encouraged to minimize items brought in and out of school, and anything brought into classes can’t be shared.

Backpacks for lunches and books will be seen as an extension of personal space and should be used as a mobile locker as they will be closed at the beginning of the year.

Water fountains will be also closed, water bottle fill stations will be used

Both divisions will have a Before & After School Program focused on increased cleaning measures, no food sharing, and pick up and drop off procedures with only one parent doing so in a given week.

The full 21-page plan can be found on the LCSD website.

About Tre Lopushinsky

Tre is the lead reporter/editor at Lloyd Connect. He is a NAIT Radio and Television alumni. Tre has experience in radio, audio production, video editing and news reporting. During his time at NAIT he worked as a sports editor for the college paper and was a commentator for NAIT Ooks Basketball and volleyball teams. Some residents may know him as being the "giant employee" in the community for the past two years. Tre, for some reason, hasn’t veered away from his childhood as he has a passion for collecting figures (not dolls!).

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