Welcome Message - Superintendent of Schools
Posted on September 7
Tansi, Edlánat’e, Hello students, parents, guardians, staff, and community members.
Welcome back to another school year! I hope you had a safe and enjoyable summer. To our new families and staff, welcome to Northland School Division. As you know, we are still living through a challenging time due to COVID-19. With that in mind, I want to highlight some important health and safety strategies we have in place for students and staff.
Health and Safety Strategies
Some of the strategies exceed provincial requirements. These include:
- Mandatory use of masks for all staff and students in grades 4-12 and highly recommended for students K- grade 3.
- Mandatory use of masks for all students riding the school bus. All students must be registered to ride the school bus.
- Enhanced cleaning and hygiene protocols.
- Daily screening requirements before entering an NSD school or facility. This means all parents/guardians are required to screen their child using the Alberta Health Daily Checklist. Schools will be sending you a copy of the checklist. Staff are also required to complete the daily screening.
- Strict stay-at-home guidelines for individuals who feel unwell or have symptoms related to COVID-19.
- Cohort and physical distancing strategies. A cohort is defined as a group of students and staff who remain together. A cohort limits the mixing of students and staff throughout the day and reduces the number of people exposed if individual tests positive for COVID-19. This will be maintained as much as possible.
- Large assemblies will continue to be virtual rather than in-person. Same thing for performance activities such as singing, dancing, playing instruments, and theatre This will be re-evaluated on September 30th.
- Visitors are still not permitted in the school or workplace without an appointment. To make an appointment contact the school directly.
- Field trips and extracurricular sports can occur with health protocols in place.
The Board and Administration feel that maintaining many of the same health strategies from last year are necessary to reduce risk in the school communities we serve. The two changes we have made from last year to this year are with field trips and extracurricular sports. Allowing these activities to occur with health protocols in place is a small step in helping students experience some level of normalcy.
We understand how the past year and a half has impacted the mental health and wellbeing of all of us. If you need a helping hand, please visit our mental health webpage https://www.nsd61.ca/about-us/division-news/post/covid-19-mental-health-resources. We have compiled mental-health related information from several sources.
Choice of Learning
One of things we will continue to do is offer families a choice between in-school learning and an online school. For families not yet ready to send their child for in-school learning, parents and guardians can register their students to attend Northland Online School. To learn more visit www.northlandonlineschool.ca. We believe the more flexibility and choice we can provide for NSD students, the better chance they’ll achieve success and achieve their goals and dreams.
Literacy and Numeracy
I am excited to share information about an initiative some NSD schools are embarking on to improve student learning in math for grades Kindergarten to Grade 8. NSD staff have been taking courses through the University of Calgary (U of C) called Math Minds. Math Minds is the teaching practice combined with the program schools will be using, called Jump Math. The teaching practice and program have been researched and have proven to be successful with helping students improve their math skills. Five NSD schools are piloting the Jump Math pilot. Some of our other schools are using the Jump Math program but are not involved in the pilot.
Like Numeracy, Literacy is an important learning foundation for student learning. NSD is continuing to focus on the division-wide learning approach to support students with reading and writing. I will be providing more details throughout the school year.
I am excited to announce that NSD recently purchased a community engagement platform called Bang the Table. Bang the Table is a web-based platform that is designed to support organizations with creating purposeful conversations.
The platform allows us to organize the following conversations:
- Open Environment: Share feedback on a forum, Share a story, Post feedback on a newsfeed.
- Mixed Environment: Fill out a survey, share feedback in a guestbook.
- Controlled Environment: Ideas circle, fill out a quick poll.
We will provide more information when we officially roll out Bang the Table. The platform is intended to support the ongoing engagement we have virtually or in-person with communities and school council members.
We are looking forward to seeing students in-person or online starting September 7th. Thank you for your continued support. Be safe!
Dr. Nancy Spencer-Poitras
Superintendent of Schools
Northland School Division