Frequently Asked Questions

What is my obligation before sending my child to school?

Before coming to schools each day parents/guardians must assess their child daily for symptoms of the common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or other respiratory diseases to determine whether they can attend school or stay home. If any symptoms are present students must stay home. See the Government of Alberta’s COVID-19 Information Screening Questionnaire.

The expectation is to complete the questionnaire daily and follow all Government of Alberta health instructions. Students who have any symptoms noted on the questionnaire cannot attend school. 

Staff and authorized individuals permitted in schools will also need to complete the daily screening questionnaire before entering the building. People with symptoms of COVID-19 or experiencing illness will not be allowed in the school. 

All division facilities will have posters on their door reminding people not to enter the building if they feel sick, or if they have had close contact with someone who is suspected of having COVID-19.

What has the school division done to ensure my child will be safe?

The Division is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all students and staff. A combination of measures will be used to minimize exposure to COVID-19. For a listing of our enhanced health and safety measures, please see the Parent/Student Handbook on School Re-Entry.

I hear that Alberta Education has mandated that all staff and students from Grade 4-12 will be required to wear non-medical masks?

Alberta Education has mandated that all staff and students from Grades 4-12, will be required to wear non-medical masks on school transportation, and in all common areas in school buildings, or where physical distancing is not possible.

Masks will not need to be worn in teaching situations where students can physically distance or when seated in classrooms not facing each other. Please store all masks in a clean ziploc bag.

Two reusable non-medical masks will be provided to each student on their first day of school. Parents are encouraged to discuss this with their children and to begin getting them used to wearing masks before their return to school. Students will be taught procedures for using non-medical masks. Parents should familiarize themselves with the guidance on mask use, paying attention to the need to launder masks on a daily basis. Non-reusable masks will also be available in schools for circumstances when the reusable masks are not available.

*Individuals who are physically, psychologically or developmentally unable to wear a mask, will be excused from this health protocol. Families will work with the school principal to discuss this relative to their child.

What if my child has allergies or other pre-existing conditions? Do they need to continually get tested for COVID-19 and miss school?

Individuals who have allergies or ongoing health issues and who are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms must be tested at least once according to the Alberta Health Services Guidance. This will establish a baseline for the individual.

If symptoms change (worsen, additional symptoms, change in the baseline) the individual must stay home and be tested and cleared. Schools will track typical symptoms that may be confused for COVID-19 for students in PowerSchool as they would with other medical conditions.

Does everyone in the class need to be quarantined if there is one symptomatic student and/or staff member?

No, everyone in the class does not need to be quarantined. 

If student or staff member has any of these top five symptoms: fever, cough (new cough or worsening chronic cough), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (new or worsening), running nose or sore throat, they are legally required to isolate for at least 10 days or until they receive the results from their COVID-19 test.

If they have any other symptoms of illness, they should stay home until their symptoms resolve. Any individual with symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested, as soon as possible, which can be arranged through the Alberta Health Services online self-assessment tool.

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

If you have symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19, you must stay home and book your test online with the Alberta Health Services assessment tool or call Health Link 811.

Learn more by visiting the Alberta Health Services symptoms and testing page.

When can my child return to school?

In order for school in-person classes to be successful, all students and families must work together to minimize risks. One of the critical strategies is testing in order to determine if self-isolation needs to continue. Should anyone answer “Yes” to any of the daily health check questions, they are prohibited from entering the school.

Your child must stay at home. Please use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine whether your child needs to be tested for COVID-19. Please let schools know when you receive the phone call about the results. The school will not keep a copy of the results but will know that it is safe for the student to return. Families can learn more about COVID-19 testing and book a test online through Alberta Health Services.

Tested positive for COVID-19:

  • You are legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Isolation period is for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.

Has symptoms but tested negative for COVID-19:

  • If you tested negative and have known exposure to COVID-19, you are legally required to isolate for 14 days.
  • If you tested negative and have no known exposure to the virus, you are not legally required to isolate. However, it is important to stay home until your symptoms resolve so that you do not infect others.

Close contacts of confirmed cases:

  • You are legally required to isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms if you are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 (provides care, lives with or has close physical contact without appropriate use of personal protective equipment, or comes into direct contact with infectious body fluids)
  • If you become sick with cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat during this time, you must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer.

What if there is a positive case of COVID-19 at the school?

All parents will be notified if there is a case of COVID-19 at their school.

If a school has a confirmed positive case:

  • the zone medical officer of health will work with school authorities to quickly:
    • identify when symptoms developed
    • identify and contact people who had close contact with the person who tested positive, offer testing, and set the isolation measures:
      • people are legally required to isolate for 14 days if they live with or are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19
      • only people in direct contact with a confirmed case need to isolate
  • our school division will:
    • notify staff and parents if a case is confirmed at school
    • support students and staff to learn or work at home if they are required to self-isolate

If a school has two or more cases:

  • the school would be considered to have an outbreak
  • medical officers will assess the spread and exposure risk to determine if it affects multiple grades and areas, or is confined within close contacts of a confirmed case, and provide specific recommendations – an outbreak will not automatically lead to school closure
  • Resource guide for COVID-19 outbreaks in schools

Please note that our division will follow the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy where information regarding specific individuals and their information will not be made public.  

How many confirmed cases in a single school will result in closure of the school?

Any one confirmed case will result in an investigation by Alberta Health Services Public Health. It is likely with a single case that exposure is limited to a single class or group. Closures of specific classes, cohorts or schools may occur depending on the outcome of an investigation.

Public health measures for outbreak management are at the discretion of the Zone Medical Officer of Health. Decisions on the need for alternate instructional delivery plans or school closures will be made by government in conjunction with local officials.

What type of hand sanitizer is your school division using?

We are using Soapopular alcohol-free hand sanitizer:

  • It's fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
  • Kills 99.9% of harmful germs in seconds. Effective against COVID-19, H1N1 and MRSA.
  • Non-toxic and non-flammable.
  • Non-drying and non -irritating.
  • Approved and authorized by Health Canada for use against COVID-19.

For more information, please visit http://soapopular.com/sp/

What are the cleaning protocols?

We have developed a COVID-19 cleaning standard for all schools that aligns with provincial guidelines around cleaning and disinfecting. These increased measures include: 

  • Purchasing provincially recommended COVID-19 cleaning supplies.
  • Additional training for staff.
  • Removal of soft furnishing and area rugs from classrooms and common areas.
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting such as water fountains and door handles.
  • More frequent cleaning and disinfecting throughout the school including washrooms, high traffic areas and classrooms.

What if I am uncomfortable with sending my child to school?

The safety of our students and staff is paramount. We have implemented many enhanced health and safety measures in our schools to minimize exposure to COVID-19. For a listing of our enhanced health and safety measures, please see the Parent/Student Handbook on School Re-Entry.

Due to health concerns and parental choice related to the pandemic, families may choose not to have their child attend their designated school. We have created a survey to ensure that we can have students placed in at-home cohorts to meet their schooling needs. 

Online Instruction Under Scenario 1

If a family chooses at-home learning the Alberta Education Program of Studies will be covered and assessment will occur. This will include a full curriculum of Math, English/French, Social Studies, Science and Religion including Physical Education. Options (at-home) will be limited for middle school. Currently, our high school administration teams are looking at possibilities of Career and Technology Studies Programming. 

At-home students will remain enrolled at the school where they are registered for 2020-2021. Students who learn at-home will be part of an online learning group with an assigned teacher. However, the teacher may not be a staff member at their designated school. This learning format will include live online teacher instruction, activities and assignments that students will complete independently.

In order to keep the learning environment, once a family has joined an at-home learning cohort, you will be part of that cohort until the end of the semester for all Grades (Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12). Semester 1 (August 31 - January 28) and Semester 2 (February 1- June 29).

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten at-home learning will follow the same resources and studies as traditional in-class programming experiences. For those students that qualify for services for speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, or other support, families will be contacted to ensure appropriate services are made available to them.

To learn more about our At-Home Learning Program, click here.

What is the difference between at-home learning and traditional home education?

At-Home Learning

At-home students will remain enrolled at the school where they are registered for 2020-2021. Students who learn at-home will be part of an online learning group with an assigned teacher. However, the teacher may not be a staff member at their designated school. This learning format will include live online teacher instruction, activities and assignments that students will complete independently.

To learn more about our At-Home Learning Program, click here.

Traditional Home Education

The traditional home education program offers a vibrant community of “families learning together" at home and in the community. All families are supported by experienced facilitators available to help parents in their child’s home education journey.

In traditional home education, the parent takes the lead and is responsible for developing and delivering the curriculum.

To learn more about our Traditional Home Education Program, click here.

What does riding the school bus look like?

Before Travelling in a School Bus 

The safety of your child/ren and staff comes first and foremost. Please do not send your child/ren to the bus if they’re displaying the symptoms outlined in the screening questionnaire. This questionnaire is the daily self-assessment tool that parents and staff must use.

Remember to use your Safety Zones and physical distance while waiting for your bus.

Please update/refresh the free Bus Status App for notifications on route status. To download the Bus App, click the links for Apple or Google Play.

While Travelling in a School Bus 

As there is no physical distancing on the bus:

  • Your school bus operator will be wearing a mask and gloves, as well as a face shield during loading and unloading.
  • We will practice cohorting and seat family members together.
  • We will be taking ridership attendance twice daily.
  • We will load the bus from back to front as the bus moves throughout the run. 
  • We require students in Grade 4 - 12 to wear a mask. 
  • We have created a “Empty Hands” policy. Please ensure everything is in your child/ren's backpack (including games and cell phones). 
  • There will also be no eating on the bus to lessen the opportunity of transmission when sharing occurs. 

After Travelling in a School Bus

Once your child returns to the house we encourage them to wash their hands thoroughly. The school bus will be cleaned after every run and fogged with a disinfectant spray that has been approved for use on the COVID-19 virus.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is defined as a group of students and staff who remain together. The size of the cohort will depend on the physical space of the classroom or learning setting and the number of students assigned to that teacher. 

Cohorting decreases the number of close contacts staff and students will have in the school and will assist public health officials in their efforts to trace contact and contain a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Activities that bring together multiple classes or grades are not permitted at this time. 

How is an classroom set-up?

Classroom and learning environments configuration should allow distance between students and staff. Recognizing that in the classroom this may be impossible we have compiled some possible ideas to help with spacing.

  • Table formations and seating plans should be arranged so students are not facing each other. (e.g., alternating desks, alternating rows, add signs or barriers to prevent students from sitting too close). Ideally, desks should be set up around the perimeter of the room leaving the central area open for adequate distancing and safe entry and exit. 
  • Organize students into smaller groups/cohorts that stay together throughout the day.
  • Strive to minimize the number of different teacher(s) and educational assistant(s) that interact with groups of students throughout the day.
  • Desk/tabletops and countertops will be decluttered of all non-essential items to allow for cleaning.
  • Soft furnishing that cannot be easily cleaned and/or disinfected must be removed.
  • Minimized shared items. Staff and students are to utilize their own personalized items. 
  • Where possible, teachers will organize curricular content to minimize the need for sharing resources.
  • Students will be asked to clean shared resources (e.g., electronic devices, manipulatives, etc.)
  • Students will wash or sanitize their hands both before and after using shared items. 
  • Each classroom will have its own supply of clothes and/or paper towel, disinfectant, hand sanitizer and/or soap, and supply of non-medical face masks. 
  • Teachers will promote hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and post corresponding signs. 

What physical distancing measures are you taking to deal with the traffic flow?

  • Schools will manage the flow of people using a variety of visual cues (posters, floor markers, directional arrows, one-way hallways, etc) to help students and staff maintain physical distancing.
  • Other traffic flow considerations include:
    • Stagger entry of students into the building.
    • Stagger recess/snack, lunch and class transition times to provide a greater amount of space for everyone.

What about music and band?

Elementary - music teachers will move from class to class 

Band and choir - if you are considering playing and (when permitted) singing in your programs, be sure to carefully review the latest information and guidance here.

Middle School - Current Alberta Health guidance states that wind instruments may be used with proper mitigations in place, depending on facility size. At this time singing is not supported by AHS. If proper safety requirements cannot be met, teachers can offer instruction in band without the use of wind instruments. This may include a hybrid approach whereby students could still play at home, but in-class instruction would be modified. Please see the Guidance for Live Instrumental Music document.

High School - Current Alberta Health guidance states that wind instruments may be used with proper mitigations in place, depending on facility size. At this time singing is not supported by AHS. If proper safety requirements cannot be met, teachers can offer instruction in band without the use of wind instruments. This may include a hybrid approach whereby students could still play at home, but in-class instruction would be modified. Please see the Guidance for Live Instrumental Music document.

What about extracurricular activities?

Schools will evaluate whether they can offer extracurricular activities that follow COVID-19 protocols, and let families know which activities are available. Alberta Education is working with Alberta Health and education partners, including the Alberta School Athletic Association, to explore possibilities for athletic activities and events within the context of current health measures. Teachers will refer Guidance for Outdoor Recreation when planning activities. Students will be able to participate in those activities regardless of whether they choose in-person or at-home learning. 

Please see the Alberta Government’s links below: