This frequently asked questions page should help answer questions staff, students and families may have as we prepare for the first day of school.
It is our hope that students and families are comfortable and eager to return to the classroom with the proper health measures in place. School-specific plans regarding the first day of school will be shared with families on or before August 26, 2021.
Staff and students will not be required to wear masks in school buildings at this time, but will be supported if they choose to do so. Masks are required for all students and staff on school buses as per the Alberta Government. This policy will be reviewed on September 27, 2021.
Masks may be recommended for a short period if there is a respiratory illness outbreak in a school. This decision will be made in consultation with Alberta Health Services.
Hand sanitizer and regular hand washing:
Hand sanitizer stations are located at the entrance of every school as well as outside every classroom. There will be regular scheduled handwashing breaks throughout the school day (i.e. after recess, before lunch, after lunch etc.)
Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces:
All school buildings will be deep cleaned each night and high touch surfaces will continue to be cleaned throughout the school day.
Cohorting is not required for the 2021–2022 school year. Cohorting may be recommended for a short period if there is a respiratory illness outbreak in a school.
Physical distancing or maintaining spacing is not required for the 2021–2022 school year. Some people may prefer to keep more space between themselves and others in certain situations and schools will support this, whenever possible.
If your child or a staff member gets sick at school:
Schools will contact parents/guardians should their children show symptoms of illness while at school. This will mean sending the student or staff member home.
The student will be given a mask if they begin developing new symptoms (like a cough, fever, runny nose or sore throat) and placed in a supervised designated area while they wait for parent/guardian pick up.
Parents are encouraged to log into the PowerSchool Parent Portal and make sure the school has the most up-to-date contact information.
If there is an outbreak in your school:
Alberta Health Services (AHS) will continue to work with school authorities to manage outbreaks of respiratory illnesses in schools. Schools will let AHS know if 10 percent of students, or more, are home because they are or might be sick. AHS will investigate and may declare an outbreak of a respiratory illness at school, which may include recommending additional health measures such as:
- Daily health checks
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
- Staying with a cohort (small group), such as a classroom
- Limiting large gatherings and/or extracurricular activities
School bus safety measures:
School buses will continue using seating plans in order to limit contact on the school bus. All school buses will be disinfected daily. Staff and students riding the school bus will be required to wear a mask until directed otherwise by the government of Alberta. This will be reviewed on September 27, 2021.
What will the first day of school look like?
Each of our Catholic schools will have a school-specific first day of school plan that may include staggered entry/bell times etc. Schools will communicate with families on or before Thursday, August 26, 2021.
Will I be able to enter my child’s school building this year?
Anyone entering a school building, including visitors, will be required to complete the Alberta Health Daily Checklist and sign in upon arrival. Masks are encouraged for all school visitors but not required.
Will school doors be locked again?
Schools will no longer be required to lock the front doors. For safety reasons, all side doors and back doors will remain locked.
Will school bell times/semesters change due to COVID-19?
School bell times have not been modified as of July 31 and can be found here.
Shared School Spaces
The use of all shared spaces in school buildings will be permitted. High touch point disinfection and daily deep cleaning will continue throughout the entire school year.
What will school recess/lunch look like?
Each school is responsible for managing their recess/lunch bell times. School-specific information will be shared with families on August 26, 2021.
What about Physical Education (PE), Music, Dance, CTF, CTS programs, Academy programs and field trips?
There are no restrictions for school activities and services at this time. As always, regular hand washing and cleaning of equipment and high touch surfaces will continue.
Will students attend in person school assemblies and liturgies?
At this time, the government of Alberta has approved school gatherings including assemblies and liturgies. If a respiratory outbreak occurs in the building during the school year, these activities may be postponed.
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics:
Schools may host temporary COVID-19 immunization clinics for older students who are of eligible age. Information regarding in-school vaccine clinics will be shared with families in the coming weeks.
Taking care of our mental health:
Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about how they are feeling, and let them know they are there for them.
If your child needs someone to talk to, they can text CONNECT to the Kids’ Help Phone at 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868. This 24/7, free service offers professional counselling, information and referrals. The Jack.org Alberta COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub also has great information for teens on mental health, self-care and supporting others.
If you, as a parent, need someone to talk to, you are encouraged to call the confidential toll-free, 24/7 mental health helpline at 1-877-303-2642. A team that includes nurses, psychologists and social workers attend this line. The AHS website Help in Tough Times also has helpful information—like the Text4Hope resource, which you can subscribe to for free by texting COVID19HOPE to 393939. It offers three months of supportive text messages written by mental health therapists.
If I have a question or concern who should I contact?
All questions can be directed to your school principal or to the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education at 403-527-2292 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 at the direction of Alberta Health Services and local health authorities. The Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education is in regular communication with Alberta Education, Alberta Health Services and school divisions across the province.