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First Day of School Information

Posted on Aug 26, 2020

August 26, 2020

With school opening just around the corner, we are excited to welcome our staff and students back in our buildings once again! Although returning to class will look different than years past, by preparing children ahead of time we can help reduce fears associated with these changes.

In response to COVID-19 concerns, our schools have all adjusted with changes following guidelines and directives from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Education to ensure a safe re-entry to our school facilities. We encourage you to watch this video with your child to show them that school may look a little different this year in order to help keep everyone safe

While students may be nervous to return with these new guidelines in place, we want to assure them that returning to school will continue to be a warm, welcoming and enjoyable experience despite these changes. 

Here are a few things you may want to know before the first day of school:

Don’t forget your mask! Mask wearing at school

  • Masks are required for students in grades 4-12. If a student arrives without their own mask on the first day, a disposable mask will be provided for them. 
  • Students in grades 4-12 are asked to arrive at school wearing their masks before they enter the school building.
  • Parents are asked to wear masks while meeting their child’s teacher, even if the meeting is outside. 
  • Until further notice, all school visitors (including parents/guardians) are required to wear masks when entering the building. If a visitor arrives without their own mask, a disposable mask will be provided for them. 
  • All students riding the school bus are required to wear a mask (grades K-12). If a student arrives without their own mask, a disposable mask will be provided for them. 
  • Two reusable masks will be provided for each student K-12, from Alberta Education, and will be distributed on the first day of school. Children can bring their own non-medical masks to school.
  • Talk to your child about how to properly wear their masks and how to store their masks when not in use. You might want to practice wearing masks at home, too!
  • Techniques to help children adjust to wearing their masks 
  • How to wear a mask like a health hero

Staying Home when Symptomatic, Daily Screening Questionnaire and At-Home Learning

  • Parents, students and school staff must review the daily self-screening questionnaire each day before entering a school building. Visitors must also use this questionnaire to determine if they may enter a school.
  • Talk to your child about the Daily Screening Questionnaire is, and explain the importance of telling an adult if they are not feeling well at home or during the school day. 
  • At the beginning of the school year, each child will receive a fridge magnet displaying the school year calendar and daily screening questionnaire. It is our hope that the magnet serves as a useful tool for families to access the daily screening tool at a glance each morning before arriving at school.
  • At-Home Learning is available for students showing symptoms or unable to attend school. Please contact your child’s school principal to learn more about at-home learning

School Bus Transportation

  • 2020-2021 School Bus route maps can be found here:
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for all students as they board the school bus.
  • All school buses will be disinfected at the end of the morning route and at the end of the afternoon route. This includes cleaning of all high touchpoints and the seats using appropriate sanitizer.
  • School Bus Drivers will wear appropriate PPE. Face masks will be worn and supplemented with a face shield when students are loading or unloading the school bus.
  • Students are required to register for transportation in accordance with the protocols developed by the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education. This will assist with ensuring there are sufficient seats on the bus, developing a seating plan and assisting with contact tracing.
  • It is mandatory to wear a mask all MHCBE school busses for all students K-12.

Talk to your child about precautions they can take while they are at school

  • Washing and sanitizing their hands more often during the school day
  • Being mindful of physical distancing
  • Wearing a mask at school in hallways, common areas and where physical distancing guidelines cannot be met (mandatory for grades 4-12 students, optional for K-3 students)
  • Students should avoid sharing food, water bottles, devices, writing instruments, and books with other students.

Update health and contact information

  • Make sure your contact information is current at school click here to learn more. 
  • If your child has symptoms related to allergies or a pre-existing medical condition, the child should be tested at least once before returning to school, and have a negative COVID-19 test result (tests can be booked here). These symptoms would be their baseline health status. For example, as long as the child’s cough or runny nose is always the same and does not get worse, the student can attend school.
    • Parents/guardians can note their child’s pre-existing conditions by filling out an online form in the PowerSchool Parent Portal. Schools will keep a confidential record of your child’s pre-existing condition. Note: parents will receive an email notification once the form has been assigned.

Create new routines at home

  • Emphasize and model healthy behaviours at home
  • Develop new daily routines. For example, pack necessary items such as hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and an additional back up mask etc. the night before. 
  • Talk about things children can do when they return home from school such as washing hands immediately and putting used masks in a special areas

Please visit your child’s school website and review the school re-entry plan leading up to the first day of school. We encourage you to talk with your child about these new procedures and invite them to share their thoughts, joys and worries as we navigate this new school year. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.

God bless!

Additional information links:
MHCBE Re-Entry Updates and FAQ
Back to school information: School bell times, supply lists and more!
Government of Alberta K to 12 school re-entry guidelines