Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (WRPS) updated their 2020-2021 school re-entry plan Aug. 19, 2020.
In this plan WRPS says, “We believe that students who attend school learn best in the classroom with their teachers and peers. Our goal is to get back to normal learning as soon as possible as safely as possible. We are looking for a balance of living with COVID-19 and continuing to educate the students of our communities.”
WRPS will continue to follow all the safety requirements put out by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and the Provincial Minister of Education.
Working off of scenario one, as laid out by the provincial government, WRPS will resume in-school classes this fall with health measures in place. Part of this scenario includes mandatory mask use for staff and students in Grades 4 to Grade 12. The provincial outline also strongly recommends that students K-3 also wear masks.
Following AHS regulations for provincial school re-entry, if a student shows symptoms of COVID-19 at school parents will be asked to pick up the child immediately. The student will be asked to wear a non-medical mask if able to do so safely and will be isolated in a separate room or be kept at least two metres away from others.
AHS recommends that parents ensure the school has their most up-to-date contact information.
If there is a case of COVID-19 at your child’s school, AHS will do an investigation. AHS says that it is likely that only the group of staff and students who came in close contact with will be required to stay home for 14 days, and not the whole school. Testing will be offered to the close contacts.
Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school.
If there are two or more cases, the school would be considered to have an outbreak. Local medical officers will then investigate the spread and exposure to determine who has to isolate.
School bus transportation will still be available for students of WRPS but extra precautions will need to be taken, especially in loading and unloading. In order to limit COVID-19 transmission on WRPS school buses, the following protocols will be implemented:
• Parents and students will not be in the pick-up area or enter the bus if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
• Bus drivers and students will complete the self-screening tool each day prior to leaving their home for the bus.
• Students will be assigned seats and a record of this seating plan will be kept in order to assist with contact tracing in the case of a student being a case of COVID-19.
• Students who live in the same household will be seated together. Seat assignments will be the same for the AM and PM routes.
• As much as practical, students start boarding from the back seats to the front of the bus.
• As much as practical, students start disembarking from the front seats to the back of the bus.
• All students must perform hand hygiene (hand sanitizer) when entering the bus until further notice.
• Mask use is mandatory for all bussing students on the bus, in loading/ unloading zones and at transfer sites.
o On the first day of school, students are required to have and wear their own disposable mask on the bus. Two reusable masks will be issued by the school.
o Students not wearing a mask will not be allowed entry onto the bus. Bus drivers may have a very limited number of disposable masks to hand out if necessary.
o In exceptional circumstances, mask usage for students with identified special education needs will be reviewed by the school learning team.
• Expectations regarding mask usage for these students will be determined and outlined in the Individual Program Plan on a case-by-case basis.
• Bus drivers will wear a mask or face shield when students are loading and unloading.
• If a student becomes symptomatic during the bus trip, the bus driver will notify the school upon delivering the student so that the school can make the appropriate arrangements to pick up the student.
In addition to these restrictions students will not be able to share personal items (toys, water bottles, cell phones etc.) and eat or drink on the bus. Before each bus route run, bus drivers will be required to disinfect all high-touch surfaces including seats, door handles, window areas, rails, and the steering wheel.
Daily vehicle cleaning checklists and logs will also be kept and subjected to audit verification as well as each bus being equipped with proper signage promoting hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and physical distancing posted in visible locations.
“It is extremely important that all students adhere to the measures in place and are committed to keeping our transportation environments as safe as possible,” says Billy Loiselle, Transportation Manager for WRPS. “To this end, students who do not adhere to these measures will be referred to the Principal and may be suspended from the bus, without further warning.”
Every attempt will be made for a substitute driver to operate the run should the regular driver become ill. However, with a limited number of substitute drivers available, there may be times when a bus route cannot run, which could also happen with very short notice to parents. In addition these drivers could be absent for an extended period of time following direction from Alberta Health Services.