2020-2021 School Re-open Questions and Answers
We recognize the return to school in September will be a new experience for all. Ensuring staff and students have a safe place to work and learn remains our top priority. As you can imagine, we are working to come up with answers for the many questions that staff, parents and students have. Below you will find answers to many questions you may have.
Please check back regularly as we update this page with new information and additional answers to the questions we receive.
Masks in Schools and Physical Distancing
Who has to wear masks in school?
Northwest School Division, with the support of the Board of Education, has decided to begin the school year at level 2 of the Safe Schools Plan, following the recommendations within, as well as those of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and mandate the use of non-medical masks in schools.
Mask will be required for staff and students in Grades 4 to 12 on buses and in high traffic areas including areas where 2-meter physical distancing cannot be maintained. In most circumstances, students in Pre-k to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to use masks.
Students can expect to receive one mask provided by the Division upon their return to classes.
Are students required to wear masks at all times, like during recess and during lunch?
There will be circumstances during the day where students will have to remove masks and physical distancing protocols are to be implemented during these times as much as possible.
Can my child wear a shield rather than a mask?
The direction provided by the province and the Chief Medical Health Officer requires mask usage. Should a child wish to wear a shield, they would also be required to wear a mask.
What if my child has a physical or intellectual disability and they cannot wear a mask?
Medical reasons for not wearing a mask will be considered.
These situations will be assessed on an individual basis. A medical note will be required. Please work closely with your school based administrator to determine options for your unique situation. The Student Medical Exemption Request form can be completed by your physician. Student Mask Medical Exemption Request.pdf
If my child is in a Grade 3/4 split what is the protocol for masks?
We are encouraging all children to wear masks where 2-metre physical distancing cannot be maintained.
What if I do not want my child to wear a mask?
Masks are required for students in Grade 4 to 12 in all Northwest schools.
Will the schools wash masks or are they supposed to go home to be washed?
How will you limit physical contact in classrooms?
Seating arrangements for each classroom are being developed to ensure minimal movement by students and to support contract tracing. Schools have been directed to organize classrooms into configurations with forward-facing instruction and where possible, arrange seating to provide 2-metre distancing.
We are also working with our administrators and staff to be creative and strategic with timetabling and class schedules to limit student contacts, intermingling, class changes and to keep cohorts as small and consistent as possible during any given day.
What will the arrival time be for each grade? Will they have a separate entrance to use? What are the drop-off, pick-up procedures?
Answers to all of these questions will be available within your school’s re-open plan. The school will contact families directly with their guidance, prior to the start of school. It is important to know that these plans are a work in progress and will be subject to change as circumstances in the province change.
Illness in Schools
Students should not attend school if they are showing symptoms of illness, though what are the symptoms that we should be monitoring?
The best source of information regarding COVID-19, symptoms and what to do if you have concerns is the Government of Saskatchewan website. NWSD will provide a Self-Assessment pictoral guide for families to use each day prior to sending students to school. Students experiencing any symptoms should stay home.
Are schools monitoring student temperatures?
Northwest School Division is taking its direction from the provincial guidelines and the Chief Medical Health Officer. At this time, the Safe School guidelines do not indicate temperature monitoring in schools is required.
What happens if a student is demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19 at school?
All schools will have designated an appropriate isolation area for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms until they can leave the facility.
If a student develops symptoms at school, the following procedures are to be followed:
• The classroom teacher shall contact the school administrator, who will remove the student from the classroom and take the student to the designated isolation area.
• The student will be provided with a medical mask to wear and will always be supervised.
• The parent or guardian shall be notified to pick up the student immediately. Staff are not permitted to transport the student.
• SHA Public Health contact will be notified.
• Public Health will work with the school regarding the next steps.
• Once the student has left, the staff in contact with the students are to wash their hands thoroughly.
• The areas where the student was located are to be cleaned and disinfected.
If a student is sent home with symptoms, will their siblings be sent home as well?
We continue to follow the direction of the provincial Chief Medical Health Officer and the province’s Safe School Plan, which indicates only students exhibiting symptoms are required to go home.
Should one student test positive, NWSD will follow the direction of the Saskatchewan Health Authority with respect to appropriate isolation protocols.
What if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?
Northwest School Division will follow the direction provided by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and local public health officials regarding appropriate protocols and communication should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19.
Remote learning, extracurricular and more
I am worried about sending my child to school/my child is worried about attending school. Can we access remote learning?
While NWSD is committed to a re-opening safety plan that meets the requirements of the provincial guidelines and recommendations of the Chief Medical Health Officer to ensure student and staff well-being, we understand that some families will choose not to send their children to school this fall.
To help us better plan and prepare for instruction in September we ask families let us know as soon as possible if their children will not return to school by completing the form linked here
. Please complete this form if your child WILL NOT be attending in-person classes on September 1st.
What is happening with classes like band, phys ed and arts ed?
We are still working closely with our schools to plan for the delivery of these classes while ensuring we adhere to the direction of the province’s Safe Schools Plan and the Chief Medical Health Officer. More details on this will be available soon.
Cleaning, disinfecting the building and school equipment
How are the cleaning needs of schools being met?
Enhanced cleaning measures will be adopted for all facilities, including extra sanitizing in high traffic areas. Caretaking schedules may be altered as needed to meet specific school needs.
Will the schools provide cleaning and sanitation supplies, like hand sanitizer and wipes?
Hand sanitizer will be available in every instructional space and hand sanitizer dispensers will be available in high traffic areas. Disinfectant wipes have also been ordered to support additional cleaning of desks, IT and shared equipment.
Who will be responsible for cleaning desktops/laptops between use?
As much as possible, NWSD is discouraging the sharing of equipment and learning spaces. Where sharing is required, school-level plans are being developed to ensure all equipment is disinfected appropriately between uses.
Is there any plan to work on duct cleaning/air quality in buildings?
HVAC/airflow will be maximized in all schools and filters will be changed regularly in line with engineers’ recommendations.
Are play structures and equipment still open to students at recess?
At this time, play structures and equipment will be available for students at recess, until the province and Chief Medical Health Officer provide further direction. Students will be required to practice appropriate hand hygiene, including hand sanitizer and/or handwashing, upon return to class.