We are looking forward to our return to school in September. We will continue to follow updates from Alberta Health and the Ministry of Child and Family Services (our licensing body). Earlier this month, Alberta Education announced the return to school plans as being scenario 1 - near to normal. We have not changed our plans for a safe return to class from what we already sent out in June. At this time, Alberta is still in Phase 2 of its reopening plan. For preschools, the guidelines announced in June for how we will keep our children and staff healthy and safe at school have not changed. Below, please find our plans.
As you all know washing hands often is the number one recommendation for keeping everyone healthy. Although we have hand sanitizer available in the church, it is not recommended for regular use by young children. We will have the children washing with soap and water regularly throughout the day. They will wash hands when they arrive at school and every time they use an activity. They will of course, wash hands before and after eating. In order to keep the soap dispensers free of germs, we will ask every child to bring their own hand soap dispenser (with their name on it) to school. That way, they are only touching their own soap when they wash hands and you can choose the soap your child will use. We will keep the soap at school and we will let you know when your child's soap is running low so it can be replaced.
We also know that we need to avoid touching our faces. This can be very hard for the children, but although we will not nag them, we will encourage keeping hands away from faces regularly. We will also promote proper coughing and sneezing protocols by showing the children how to use their elbow and by keeping tissue boxes in several places in the room. We hope that you have worked on good hand washing and sneezing techniques at home with your child over the summer.
Each child will need to bring their own snack in a container that will be kept in their cubby and go home each day. If your child will be eating lunch at school, it will be important to designate what is snack and what is lunch in their container so that they don't eat too much at snack time and not have enough left for lunch. If their snack (or lunch) requires any utensils, you must send them from home. We will not share any food. When we celebrate birthdays, only sealed bags of store bought popcorn will be allowed - we will pour individual servings onto a napkin for each child. The children will not sit at a designated snack table of 4 children as we need to promote physical distancing as much as possible. They will sit at an individual table anywhere in the class that will be sanitized before and after snack.
The teachers will be spot sanitizing the materials and furniture during class to be sure that touchable surfaces are safe. Sinks and toilets will be sanitized after each use. We have hired someone to sanitize absolutely every activity and surface in the classrooms and washrooms every evening so that we are ready for the morning.
We will set up the classrooms - tables, mats, etc, with physical distancing in mind, but as Alberta Health has announced, there is not an expectation that children in preschools can be expected to stay distanced from each other while in class. Instead they recommend that we use cohorts for keeping the children safe.
For the purpose of keeping the children and staff healthy it is most important that we keep our children and their teachers in groups (cohorts) that stay consistent. A cohort is a group of children and teachers that spend their time together from the time of arrival to dismissal each day. Each cohort will not interact with other cohorts while at school. Each of our classes will be one cohort.
Based on new recommendations from Alberta Health, the teachers will be wearing either a mask or face shield when they are greeting the children at the door and may keep them on in class depending on the ability to be physically distanced inside the classroom. We will not require that the children wear masks, but if you prefer that your child wear a mask please put it on your child as they arrive at school. Please let us know your wishes with regard to how much your child's mask is on their face during class time.
We will do drop off and pick up from more than one door to minimize the number of children arriving at the same time. Current Health guidelines recommend that adults, other than the teachers do not come into the building. At drop off the door will be propped open and a teacher will be waiting inside to take your child from you at the outside door. (parents will not come into the building with their child) The teachers will facilitate the hanging up of coats and putting on of indoor shoes. It will be important that you prepare your child over the summer for this outside door drop off. If you show them your positive response to this necessity, they will get used to the routine easily and without fuss. When you come to pick up your child, please wait outside until we open the door and bring your child to you. As we will not be shaking hands, we are thinking of contactless ways of greeting. We will still offer and accept hugs from children who need them, but not face to face.
This routine make take longer than usual, so we plan to have the door open at 8:20AM until 9:00AM. It will be necessary for families to stay 2 meters apart outside the door and for parents to wear masks. At this time, we hope that families will arrive at staggered times naturally to avoid congestion and long line ups, but if necessary we will have to assign a specific drop off time for each child.
We are required by the Ministry to have you fill out a daily authorization checklist for your child's health. You will need to take your child's temperature at home before coming to school and answer the questions on the authorization; date, sign and bring it to school with your child. Your child must hand the teacher the authorization in order to come into school. We realize that it would save paper and maybe be more convenient for you if you could fill out the form online, but we are required to read each form before your child comes into the class and keep each individual authorization in a file in the classroom at all times. It is not feasible for our teachers to try to find the info online as children are arriving. In order to save your printer ink and paper, we will supply you with a stack of forms to keep at home.
If your child has any of the symptoms listed on the checklist, you cannot bring them to school. If your child exhibits any of the symptoms on the checklist while at school, you will be phoned to immediately pick up your child from school. Your child will then need to get tested for Covid19 and be negative or stay home from school for 10 days after symptoms appear (or until symptoms have disappeared, whichever is longer). This in an absolute rule that all schools in the province must follow and our teachers will be governed by the same protocol.
We realize that many of our children suffer from allergies or underlying conditions that mean that they may often or always have a runny nose, cough, etc. The protocol from Alberta Health is that a child with allergies needs to get a negative Covid19 result from being tested within 14 days of their first day of school and give us a copy and a list that will be kept at school of any usual symptoms that your child may exhibit from allergies. If your child's allergies are seasonal, please indicate on the list when they usually exhibit symptoms.. We will only need to send your child home if they exhibit symptoms that are unusual.
If there is a case of Covid-19 in class or in one of our families, the protocol is for us to report to our Zone Health Officer who will advise us what to do and will contact each family to advise them what to do. The class will be fully sanitized and closed until Health says that it is safe for children and teachers to return.
We still anticipate that Alberta Health may make changes to their recommendations so we will continue to communicate with you with any changes to our protocols as they arise.
We are in a fortunate position as our class sizes are small (under 17) so we can make social distancing possible in both the lower (grades 1,2,3) and upper (grades 4, 5, 6) elementary classrooms. The teachers will set up the classrooms so each child has an individual area where they will work each day. They will be seated close to students that they might be interested in collaborating with in order to allow for social interaction (from a distance). The teachers still intend to use Montessori materials and teach in small groups, with extra sanitation measures in place. The teachers will remove a material from the classroom once it has been used and it will either be sanitized then and/or in the evening. Each classroom will be thoroughly sanitized each evening to be ready for the next day. The children will be encouraged to wash their hands regularly throughout the day.
Masks will be mandatory for each child and teacher in the grade 4,5,6 classroom and optional for the grade 1,2,3 students. As mandated by the Alberta Government children will be required to wear masks in hallways and washrooms, but can take them off when they are sitting at their table away from others. Mrs. Russell (Miss O'Dwyer) will provide detailed instructions to the children on how to safely put on and remove a mask . However, we ask that the parents of children in the upper elementary prepare their child by practicing wearing a mask and find a few that they are comfortable wearing to school. If you choose to send your lower elementary student in a mask, please have them practice wearing it at home and communicate your wishes to them and your teacher that the mask be used.
Each child will be provided with two reusable masks from the Alberta Government. We will distribute these once we receive them. However, we would recommend buying a few for your child so they have extra on hand. We will also have a box of single use masks available on site if your child's mask gets dirty or lost throughout the day.
All elementary children will only use the entrance at the west end of the alley. (nearest to Crescent Blvd). The door will be propped open at 8AM and stay open until 8:45AM. Only children can enter the school. We truly hope that the majority of parents can drop their child from the car, but if you need to walk your child to the door, you must wear a mask and stay 2 meters apart from other families and the children will enter one at a time. Each child must arrive at school with a wellness checklist that you have filled out that morning. (We know that filling out the form online would seem simpler, but we have to see and read the form as each child arrives and we have to keep the hard copy sheet on file, so we will provide numerous hard copy checklists to each family to keep at home.) A copy of the wellness checklist is attached. A teacher will stand at the bottom of the stairs to receive the form and welcome your child.
Dismissal will be through the same door at 3PM. The door will be propped open. A teacher will watch at the door for you to arrive and call each child one at a time. We are sure that this will take some time in the beginning, but we will become more efficient over time. We ask in advance for your patience.
Washrooms must be used by one cohort (class) only. All of the lower elementary class will use the boys washroom at the end of the hallway by the gym. All of the upper elementary will use the girls. We are going to explain that the washrooms are gender neutral this year. Please support this at home, by letting your child know that it doesn't matter if a girl uses a boys washroom or vice versa. Boys and girls will not be inside the washroom at the same time.
The children will eat lunch in their own classroom and will be asked to bring cutlery and a napkin that will come and go each day from home. We will not be offering use of the microwave at this time. They will have recess outside with their individual class for the usual 30 minutes a day.
We are a nut-free environment as we have a couple of children with severe nut allergies in our program.
The children from each class will have separate Phys Ed outside two times a week with Ms. Michelle. At first, the use of equipment will be infrequent as we need to see how disinfecting goes and the children will be socially distanced as much as possible.
French will take place in each classroom twice per week.
We have always taken the children's health seriously at CMS. Parents have always been supportive by keeping their child home if they exhibited any symptoms of illness. In light of Covid-19, this has become even more important. Do not send your child to school if they are exhibiting signs of illness especially the ones on the wellness checklist. If your child begins to exhibit symptoms of Covid 19 while at school, you will be called to pick up your child immediately. Your child will be isolated from the other children until you arrive. Your child will need to stay home from school for 14 days or until symptoms have disappeared, whichever is longer, or receive a negative Covid test (we must receive a copy). This policy applies to staff also. If your child suffers regularly from allergies that manifest in Covid-like symptoms, we ask that your child has a negative Covid test result within 14 days before returning to school in September and that you give us a list of all possible allergy symptoms. Then, we will not have to send your child home when they have allergy symptoms.
If your child does have to stay home for an extended period of time their classroom teacher will ensure they are caught up on work either while they are at home or when they get back to school.
We are currently completing our Covid-19 handbook with all of the appropriate policies and you will be sent a copy before the start of school.