Division News

Division News

Updates from NSD - COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Posted on April 1

April 1, 2020

Effective immediately all Northland School Division (NSD) playgrounds are closed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The closing of NSD playgrounds supports both provincial and federal government directives to limit public gatherings and maintain social distancing. Signage and yellow or red warning tape have or will be installed to remind families. Sorry for the inconvenience.

March 27, 2020

Northland School Division is pleased to release additional information on its “Continuing Student Learning Plan”. The plan aligns with Alberta Education’s guide for continuing student learning which outlines content delivery expectations and average work assignment times for Kindergarten - Grade 3 (five hours per week), Grades 4-6 (five hours per week), Grades 7-9 (10 hours per week) and Grades 10-12 (three hours per course, per week). 

“This has been a challenging time for all our students, staff, parents and communities,” said Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras, Superintendent of Schools, Northland School Division. “We are excited to re-launch the learning journey for students during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. NSD’s “Continuing Student Learning Plan” will see schools deliver content through the use of technology and hard copy work packages. Teachers have been contacting families to see what they have or need to support student learning through the use of technology. Students who don’t have access to technology will work from hard copy work packages and have regular telephone communication, with a teacher.”  

“During this difficult time, I have heard countless stories of resilience taking place in Northland school communities,” said Robin Guild, Board Chair. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank the staff for their efforts in developing a plan for continued student learning and supporting families when they need a helping hand. It shows that a global pandemic will not stop student learning from happening.”

https://www.nsd61.ca/about-us/division-news/post/nsd-launches-continuing-student-learning-plan

March 20, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians:

This has been a challenging week for all our students, staff, parents and communities. We miss the students dearly. We miss hearing them read, watching them learn, the excitement of new discovery and the joy they bring to our lives. 

Today, the Government of Alberta, with input from the Alberta School Boards Association, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Association of Independent Schools & Colleges of Alberta, announced new guidelines for student learning while in-school classes are cancelled due to Covid-19 (coronavirus). The guidelines focus on the safety of staff and students, ensuring resources continue to flow to the education system and providing school divisions with the flexibility required to meet the unique needs of their students. Attached is a letter from Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange. The letter explains the new guidelines for continuing student learning https://www.nsd61.ca/download/241399.

Earlier this week, school divisions were asked to wait on announcing and providing programming for students until the guidelines were developed by Alberta Education. Throughout the week, we have been working hard on a plan going forward. This work includes creating alternative programming through the use of technology. If a family or a community does not have access to technology, alternative programming will be arranged. Early next week, teachers will be contacting you on further details. 

Thank you for your continued patience during this challenging time. If you have any questions or would like further information, please refer to the Northland website www.nsd61.ca or contact Communications Coordinator, Curtis Walty at curtis.walty@nsd61.ca or 780-624-2060 ext: 6183.


Sincerely,


Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras
Superintendent of Schools
The Northland School Division 

March 18, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We would like to provide you with an update regarding the COVID-19 situation in our division. We are aware of the positive testing in the AHS north zone. We strongly encourage anyone concerned about personal contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to follow direction from Alberta Health Services https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16997.aspx

When the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education announced that all K-12 schools in Alberta will be cancelling classes indefinitely, we have been seeking clarification and working on what the next steps will look like for the Northland School Division. On Monday, our division leadership participated in a conference call with Alberta Education where we received a bit more direction on how we are to proceed in the coming weeks. The leadership team has been speaking with jurisdictional leaders throughout the province to discuss options for providing programming to students. Our goal is to create a plan that will offer learning opportunities for our students and will be consistent with other jurisdictions in the province. That being said, there is still a lot we don’t know and we ask for your continued patience and understanding while we work our way through all of the details and develop plans to deal with this situation. 

We have been receiving a lot of questions from parents and we would like to address some of the more frequently asked questions in this communication. If there are questions we have not addressed, please contact Communications Coordinator Curtis Walty at curtis.walty@nsd61.ca or at 780-219-1870. 

Student Belongings

Many parents and students have asked when they can come to school to collect personal items and other things they have at school. Your child’s school will share details with you about the procedure to follow once they have been confirmed. If there are items that are needed urgently (medically related, etc.) please contact your child’s school to make arrangements.

Programming for Students

We can assure you that every student in every grade will receive a final mark for the classes they were enrolled in before classes were cancelled. As mentioned above, we are working with Alberta Education and other school jurisdictions in the province to determine what continuity of programming for students will look like and what the possible methods of delivery may be. It may take some time to determine how this will work for Northland students. Once we have a plan developed, we will share details with all of our parents and students. 

Provincial Assessments

Provincial Achievement Tests for Grade 6 and 9 students have been cancelled. Provincial Diploma Exams are still going ahead at this time. There may be changes made to what students will be required to write them and how they are delivered. Alberta Education is working on clarifying this for school divisions and we will update you on this when information is available.

Grade 12 Students and Graduation

As was mentioned by the Minister of Education, every student who was on track to graduate will graduate. As discussed above, we will have information in the coming days about how we will be delivering content for students so they can meet course requirements and complete graduation requirements.

Services to Students

In a time of need, families can connect with Alberta Health Services for mental health needs. If families are struggling to access services for their children please contact Director of Student Services Stephanie Sutherland at 780-618-4721. 

We will provide further updates as they become available. Please take care during these challenging times. If you have any questions or would like further information, please refer to the Northland website www.nsd61.ca or contact Communications Coordinator, Curtis Walty at curtis.walty@nsd61.ca or 780-624-2060 ext: 6183.

Sincerely,

Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras
Superintendent of Schools
The Northland School Division 

March 15, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff: 

Today (March 15, 2020), The Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education announced that all K-12 schools in Alberta will be cancelling classes indefinitely.  School and Division operations will continue and staff are expected to report to work on Monday, March 16, 2020.

We recognize the impact this will have on students, families and staff. Today’s decision by the province is being taken to decrease the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). During challenging times, precautionary measures are necessary to ensure all students, staff and school communities are safe. Parents and guardians, please do not contact or visit schools tomorrow regarding belongings or other learning needs. Schools will announce a staggered schedule this week for picking up student items. 

With this announcement, our focus shifts towards providing ongoing education to Northland students. We will communicate details to the families and staff once they become available. 

The Government of Alberta also announced that “Every K-12 student will receive a final mark and students will progress to their next grade level next year. Provincial assessments, such as provincial achievement tests, will be cancelled. At this time, diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will continue. Every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate.”

As we move forward, the division encourages everyone to follow advice from public health officials and the federal government. In order to prevent the spread of common respiratory illnesses (such as influenza) as well as COVID-19, please continue to: 

  • Use good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing. 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. 
  • Dispose of tissues immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at home if you are feeling ill. 
  • Don’t share items that may have saliva on them such as drinking glasses and water bottles. 
  • Clean high touch surfaces such as taps, door knobs and countertops frequently. 
  • Limiting activities involving larger groups. In some schools, principals are implementing staggered breaks.
  • Contact your primary health provider or Health Link by calling 811 if you have questions or concerns about your health. 

Thank you for your support as we work to help keep our communities healthy and safe. The safety and security of our students and staff is always our first priority in Northland School Division. If you have any questions or would like further information, please refer to the Northland website www.nsd61.ca or contact Communications Coordinator, Curtis Walty at curtis.walty@nsd61.ca or 780-624-2060 ext: 6183.


Sincerely,


Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras
Superintendent of Schools
The Northland School Division

March 14, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians: 

Many parents and community members have been asking questions about whether schools will close or remain open. School divisions do not have the authority to make public health decisions. Following the recommendation from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, all schools and facilities in the Northland School Division (NSD) and all other school divisions in the province will remain open for regular instruction and operation until further notice. This recommendation was again restated during a teleconference with school divisions on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Previously on March 13, 2020, Dr. Hinshaw addressed the concerns raised from parents and teachers about COVID-19 (coronavirus) in schools. 

“What is important to know is that school closures are not universally agreed on as an effective intervention to prevent spread. It should be noted that the World Health Organization does not recommend school closure as the only way to prevent spread in the age group of young children. Instead, they also offer a safe schools checklist which describes the ways that school environments can be kept as safe as possible for students, teachers and staff. Given the current situation in Alberta, the fact that any school closure would need to be in place for months, not weeks to be effective, and the fact that students may still be at risk of spreading infection in other settings besides schools, I have advised that school closures not be implemented at this time.”

- Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

We know that school communities are concerned with the announcement of new cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) within the province. Alberta Health Services (AHS) is actively monitoring the situation and leading the response in Alberta. We take our direction from AHS and will continue to respond and act in-line with their recommendations. Dr. Hinshaw stressed numerous times throughout her presentations zero tolerance for illness. Therefore, in order to ensure and maintain safe learning environments, please note:

  • If your child is sick, please do not send them to school.  Call the school to report their absence. 
  • If your child is sick or exhibiting symptoms while at school, you will be notified to pick them up. They will not be transported on a school bus. 
  • AHS recommends that if you or your child have symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing and your family has travelled outside Canada or has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 (coronavirus), stay home and call Health Link 8-1-1. 

During this challenging time for everyone, NSD’s Emergency Response Team has been working daily 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. 
  • 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.
  • Communicate information to staff, students, parents, and community members.
  • Collaborate with other school divisions for best practices. 
  • Train staff in the use of the Clorox Total 360 system.

We will continue taking the necessary steps to minimize risk and keep our students and staff safe. NSD is implementing the following practices with students and staff in all school division facilities, in order to prevent the spread of common respiratory illnesses (such as influenza) as well as COVID-19 (coronavirus) whether at home or school:

  • Use good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing. 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. 
  • Dispose of tissues immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at home if you are feeling ill. 
  • Don’t share items that may have saliva on them such as drinking glasses and water bottles. 
  • Clean high touch surfaces such as taps, door knobs and countertops frequently. 
  • Limiting activitiesMatinvolving larger groups. In some schools, principals are implementing staggered breaks.
  • Contact your primary health provider or Health Link by calling 811 if you have questions or concerns about your health. 

These recommendations are supported by Alberta Health Services. 

Thank you for your support as we work to help keep our communities healthy and safe. The safety and security of our students and staff is always our first priority in Northland School Division.  If you have any questions or would like further information, please refer to the Northland website www.nsd61.ca or contact Communications Coordinator, Curtis Walty at curtis.walty@nsd61.ca or 780-624-2060 ext. 6183. 


Sincerely,


Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras
Superintendent of Schools
The Northland School Division

March 11, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians: 

During the cold and flu season, we usually see an increased number of students with symptoms of influenza (flu). The flu season has been complicated by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with common symptoms similar to the flu, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. We understand you have questions about the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Families are encouraged to refer to official sources such as Alberta Health Services https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx. Information is also available on the Northland School Division website www.nsd61.ca.  

Prevention
There are two important ways to prevent and control respiratory viruses:

The first is for students who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) to stay home from school. If your child is not feeling well, we ask that you keep them home so that they can rest and recover. As always, remember to inform the school of the absence.

The second way to prevent and control respiratory viruses is the consistent practice of 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.

Children in the school setting should clean their hands:

  • Before leaving home and on arrival at school.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After breaks and sporting activities.
  • Before food preparation.
  • Before eating any food, including snacks.
  • Before leaving school.

If you have a younger child, support them at home by supervising and assisting in hand hygiene. In schools, instruction will be provided by staff. We are enhancing our communication to students about hand-washing, sneeze/cough etiquette, and preventing illness – including new signage and supplies at each site across the school division. If you have questions about your health, please contact your primary health provider or Health Link 811. 

Food sharing
Students should not be sharing food, utensils, dishes, and water bottles or drink containers. Although this practice is important for preventing exposures to allergens, it is equally important in reducing virus transmission between children.

Psychological Considerations
A new virus such as the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) can create anxiety and be difficult for students/children 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.
  • Maintain a normal routine unless otherwise advised by an authority.
  • Encourage them to talk to you about their concerns.
  • 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.

 

There’s nothing more important than the safety of  students. It is natural to be concerned about this situation. If we receive any additional information, we will certainly share. If you have any questions or concerns, please refer to the question and answer page on the Northland website www.nsd61.ca or contact Communications Coordinator Curtis Walty at curtis.walty@nsd61.ca or 780-624-2060 ext: 6183. 


Sincerely,


Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras
Superintendent of Schools
The Northland School Division

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