Dear Staff and Families,
On Wednesday, Minister LaGrange confirmed that on Monday, January 10, 2022, K-12 students will return to in person learning to support their overall wellbeing. Measures will continue to support learning safely and online tutoring to address learning disruption for grades 4-9 will be introduced.
Rapid Tests and Masks
To lower the risk of in-school transmission of COVID-19, and in particular, the Omicron variant and to provide an additional layer of protection, the Government of Alberta will be supplying rapid tests and masks to schools. Shipments will start this week and all schools will have their initial shipments by the end of next week.
Initial shipments will include one box of tests and a two-week supply of masks for each student and staff member, including young children attending Kindergarten programs. Each box of rapid tests contains five tests. Testing is recommended to be done twice a week, meaning one box will allow individuals to test for 2.5 weeks. Initial shipments of masks will include a two-week supply for all adults and children in our schools to use two masks per school day.
Please note that masks are mandatory at Westmount for all students and staff, K-12. Due to the Omicron variant, AHS recommends that masks be worn by students and staff at all times, including when seated and facing forward. Masks combined with physical distancing when practical will help reduce transmission.
A how-to video for parents and a rapid test program fact sheet translated into multiple languages offers tips on how to use the rapid test kits. Both are available online at https://www.alberta.ca/k-12-learning-during-covid-19.aspx.
Absenteeism and COVID Cases
Note that you are not required to report results of rapid tests to the school. We understand that families would appreciate receiving notifications of positive cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We will provide notifications when families self-report a positive Rapid Antigen Test or AHS confirmed case of COVID-19 to their school. If families report a positive case to the school, we will accept the notification as consent for the school to send out a notice to specific classes associated with the self-reported case, as well as a general notice to the school community at the end of the school day.
Please continue to inform the school if your child will be absent from school for any reason. Schools will continue to monitor school absenteeism due to illness. This information may be used to shift classes to at-home-learning by class or grade, if necessary. As a school authority, we retain the right to shift a class or grade within a school to at-home learning at our discretion. Shifting one or both of our schools to at-home learning for operational reasons, staff availability and/or student absentee rates, requires Alberta Education approval. Short-term shifts will now be for up to 10 calendar days in length.
Please contact the Elementary or Mid-High attendance lines to report that your child will be absent:
- EC – 403 217 0426 Option 1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- MH – 403 217 9427 Option 1 or email email@example.com
- Provide the following information
- first name and last name (include the spelling of the last name)
- the date of the absence (or late)
- the name of your child’s homeroom teacher and
- reason for absence (or late).
The isolation requirements for Alberta have recently changed. The information is available at https://www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx. Note that the isolation requirements differ for individuals who are fully vaccinated and for those who are not.
A reminder that vaccination is not mandatory for students and school authorities may not deny students access to learning based on vaccination status. If a student is required to isolate, the length of isolation will be at the discretion of the parent based on their knowledge of the student’s vaccination status and the information described as accessed through the link above.
Caring for a COVID Patient at Home
If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who has COVID-19 symptoms and has not been tested, follow this AHS advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.
Alberta Education has developed an e-Tutoring Hub to be launched next week to help students catch up on skills and learning they may have fallen behind on because of the pandemic. Initially, students in Grades 4 to 9 will be able to access pre-recorded video tutoring sessions online anytime to build their literacy and numeracy skills.
Later this year, Alberta Education will expand the online tutoring services to cover more grades and subjects, including live tutoring. The sessions will be free for all students and parents. Find out more and view a tutoring session on the e-Tutoring Hub at https://New.LearnAlberta.ca
The COVID-19 Information Guidance for Schools (K-12) and Buses document and daily check list are anticipated to be updated for review early next week. Links to the updated documents will be forwarded to the community when available.
It is important that staff and students who are ill stay home, use the daily checklist and follow isolation requirements to determine whether or not they can attend school. Westmount will continue to maintain a focus on the health and safety of students and staff. Our priority remains providing in-person learning for our students while we are prepared to shift to at-home learning as it may become necessary.
We thank our community for your cooperation and ongoing support as we return from the extended winter break.