Q & A - COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Posted on April 6
Updated April 6, 2020
We have received a number of questions from students, staff, parents and community members about the COVID-19 (coronavirus). Please review the Question and Answer responses below.
What is COVID-19? (Source: Alberta Health Services)
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Others cause illness in animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or with surfaces they have recently touched https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#toc-9.
How is Northland School Division responding?
Northland School Division continues to take direction from Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada as the situation continues to evolve.
The division has established an Emergency Response Team to:
- Review updates from Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
- Review preventative measures that have been implemented and discuss if other measures need to be put into place.
- Communicate information to staff, students, parents, and community members.
Letter to Parents and Guardians
- March 11, 2020
- March 14, 2020
- March 15, 2020
- March 18, 2020
- March 20, 2020
- March 20, 2020, Letter from Minister of Education to Alberta parents
- April 1, 2020
Why was the decision made to cancel classes for students?
- These are challenging and difficult times for everyone as we all try to limit the spread of the COVID 19 virus. Click here to view the following poster. Schools posted it at the front entrance.
- The decision to cancel classes for students indefinitely was made by Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Minister of Education based on providing the best response in these circumstances. Click on the website link to view a message from Superintendent of Schools Nancy Spencer-Poitras https://www.nsd61.ca/about-us/division-news/post/message-from-superintendent-of-schools-covid-19-coronavirus2.
- We support these decisions.
Is school cancelled for the rest of the year?
- At this time, students are no longer attending in-school classes until further notice.
- It is too early to know how long this situation will continue.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other government officials are monitoring the situation
closely and will make further decisions as necessary.
We work, what am I supposed to do about child care?
- We are sorry and understand the challenges of finding child care.
- The government made this difficult decision knowing that it would be a challenge and disruptive for families and employers.
- The government encourages employers to be flexible in meeting family needs.
- We understand that the government is looking at supports to make up for the challenges families face in this area.
- All families are facing these challenges and the government understands the challenges and is working to minimize the impact.
- Friends and relatives in the community will be aware of and understand these challenges. We hope that they will be able to accommodate families in making things work.
- Many employers are also facing these disruptions with a reduction in business for some. Hopefully, this will allow them the flexibility to support families.
What is my child supposed to do about school?
- New guidelines are in place to direct how students will learn while in-school classes are cancelled due to the provincial health emergency https://www.nsd61.ca/about-us/division-news/post/updates-from-nsd-covid-19-coronavirus.
- Once approved by Alberta Education, we will announce program delivery for Northland School Division students.
- For more information, click here to review the Education Continuity Plan: COVID-19 from Alberta Education.
Can my child go to school to pick up materials and personal items?
- Schools will be in touch, if they have not already, to provide further details on plans to pick-up
materials and personal items.
What if we don’t have access to the internet for lessons that are on-line?
- We will consider the needs of all families and accommodate lesson materials as best we can.
- More details will be provided on how learning will continue.
My child is really anxious about all this, now school is closed
- It’s important for parents to try and reduce anxiety about this with their children...your attitude influences their attitude.
- Be knowledgeable about the facts of the pandemic, not the myths.
- This is real, but with steps like school closures and being careful to follow proper hygiene and social distancing will help to reduce illnesses.
- While there are lots of disruptions, there are lots of normal things that are still safe to do including being outside, playing with others, quality family time, reading books, learning new things on their own.
I am a Northland staff member. What kind of support and counselling services can I access?
We are concerned about the welfare of all of our staff and want to remind you that support and counselling services are available through our Employee and Family Assistance Program provider Homewood Health. They can be contacted at 1-800-663-1142 or visit the Northland School Division website for more information http://nsd61.ca/information-for-staff/employee-and-family-assistance-program
What kind of support is available for families?
Visit our mental health resources webpage https://www.nsd61.ca/about-us/division-news/post/covid-19-mental-health-resources.
How to discuss COVID-19 with students?
A new virus such as the COVID-19 can create anxiety and be difficult for students to understand, especially if someone they know is sick, or they see or hear troubling messages on the radio, internet or television. It is normal for children to feel worried and nervous and have questions.
Support your children by reassuring them about their personal safety and health:
- Limit their access to news and online stories about the issue.
- Encourage them to talk to you about their concerns. Click here to access this book about COVID-19.
- Reassure them they are safe.
- Advise them of steps they can take to stay healthy:
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing the ABC's to measure time), especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Cough and sneeze into arm or tissue.
- Stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Keep hands away from face and mouth.
- Stay healthy by eating healthy foods, keeping physically active, and getting enough sleep.
What preventative measures have been established at School and Division facilities?
- Staff who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) are asked to stay home.
- Encouraging everyone to practice good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and water, which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses.
- Northland staff are participating in training of best practices for pandemic preparation, pandemic response, and specifically the awareness and response to COVID-19.
- Our Maintenance Department will continue to work with the custodians and the principals to ensure thorough cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces is taking place.
- Staff have been asked to avoid sharing food, utensils, dishes and water bottles or containers.
- Collaborate with other school divisions for best practices.
- Train staff in the use of the Clorox Total 360 system.
Is there a fact sheet for Northland educators?
Yes. Educators should review a fact prepared by the Alberta Teachers' Association https://www.teachers.ab.ca/News%20Room/Issues/Pages/COVID-19-FAQs.aspx.
I am a vendor who sends invoices and receives cheques by mail. Does this arrangement still work if central office staff have to start working from home?
We are asking all vendors to send all invoices by email to email@example.com. If you are not set-up for electronic payment please contact the Accounts Payable Department at 780-624-2060 ext. 6147 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a staff member who receives a paycheque by mail. Does this arrangement still work if central office staff have to start working from home?
We are asking all staff members or casual employees not set-up for electronic payment (EFT), please contact the Payroll Department at 780-624-2060 ext. 6152 or by email at email@example.com.
I typically submit expense claims, petty cash reimbursement and other expenses by mail. Does this arrangement still work if central office staff have to start working from home?
We are asking all staff members to send all expense claims, petty cash reimbursement, and any other expenses by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not set-up for electronic payment please contact the Accounts Payable Department at 780-624-2060 ext. 6147 or by email at email@example.com
Where can I find updated information about COVID-19?
Alberta Health Services: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#toc-9
Alberta Health Services Memo to Alberta school staff, parents/guardians of students: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/educ-COVID-parents-memo.pdf
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Who should I call for health-related information?
Contact 8-1-1 (Health Link) or your health care provider for questions about your personal health situation.
Please note: School divisions do not have the authority to make public health decisions. If steps are taken in relation to a public health concern, it is in the direction of the Alberta Health Services and local health authorities. Northland School Division is in regular communication with Alberta Education, Alberta Health Services, and school divisions across the province.