Holy Spirit's July 29, 2020 Superintendent Email page

July 29, 2020 Superintendent Email

July 29, 2020

COVID-19:  UPDATED INFORMATION RE:  RE-ENTRY PLAN

Message to Parents/Guardians of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division,

On July 21, 2020 Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, jointly announced that schools in Alberta would reopen in September in a Scenario 1 Mode - ‘Near Normal’ Operations with Health Measures in place in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools.  As mentioned in a previous communication back in June, as well as noted in our Guidelines for Maintaining Safe & Healthy Schools in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the division, along with individual schools, has been planning and preparing for a return, considering all three possible scenarios (Near-Normal Operations with Health Measures; Hybrid Operations; or the continuation of At-Home Learning).  The link to these Guidelines can be found here.

Please understand that school authorities are required to follow the decisions made by Alberta Health Services and the Provincial Government.  These decisions do change from time to time, and as such, we are required to be flexible and ready to ‘pivot’ into a different scenario with very short notice.  For instance, given the information in the News Release from the City of Lethbridge on July 27, 2020 regarding the mandatory wearing of face masks / face coverings on city provided transportation routes, we could logically expect that the students who will be transported on city school buses beginning in September would be required to do likewise. 

When we conducted our original parent survey in June to get a better understanding of what were the needs of our families, we learned that some parents were not planning to send their children to school in September and wanted to continue with at-home learning.  Of course, this was all before we learned of the recent announcement of a return to ‘Near-Normal’.  The At-Home Learning option would include delivery of core subjects and would have the same expectations regarding meeting curricular outcomes and assessment for both in-school and learning at home.

As was mentioned earlier, we would be administering a follow up survey to get more up-to-date information around returning to school in September.  This much shorter survey should be out by August 5, 2020.  A link to the survey will be sent to all parents via School Messenger.  The data from this survey will be used to identify the number of students who will be receiving their education at school or at home.  As was the case in the first survey, we will need one survey completed per child.  This information is of critical importance for the school division to be able to plan for educational delivery for every child.  What is important to understand here is that your child’s at-home delivery teacher will not be the same teacher if they attend in-school classes, but rather another teacher within the division.  If you are choosing educational delivery to be ‘At-Home’, we are also asking that you provide your school principal with at least a two-week notice / request to change or pivot back to learning in-school.  I hope you can appreciate the need to know this information in advance so we can appropriately assign teachers to provide quality education to cohorts or groups of our students.  Continual movement of students from one cohort to another would make it extremely difficult to achieve these important outcomes.  Please also understand, that should the province change the structure of the delivery of education, we will make the necessary adjustments and respond accordingly.

We have heard some talk about parents moving to Home Schooling for their children.  This is not to be confused with what we are referring to as At-Home Learning.   Holy Spirit Catholic Schools does not provide Home Schooling support.  If a parent chooses Home Schooling, you would be required to register your child with another school division provider, where you as parents would be required to plan and deliver the instruction, with the support of that school division.  Choosing this option would render your child to be a homeschool student for the 2020-21 school year at minimum.

While we recognize that these are very challenging times and education will look very differently than in the past, we will respond with compassion and care for each of our staff and students, and continue to provide holistic programming to all.  Our goal is to make the transition to the 2020-21 school year as seamless as possible.  Our excitement to begin the new school year continues to grow daily! 

May God continue to bestow blessings upon each of us and the gift of grace to help through any difficulties and challenges we experience.

Kind Regards,

Ken Sampson, Superintendent of Schools

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