January 10, 2022
Dear NWSD Parents & Caregivers
RE: Revised COVID-19 Guidelines
The province of Saskatchewan has revised the required isolation protocol for students who are close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case. This means that Northwest School Division must also update our practice. These changes are placing a greater responsibility on school divisions, and ultimately parents and caregivers, as we identify positive cases and notify potential close contacts. We are asking for your support and cooperation to help us keep schools open and as safe as possible.
- The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is no longer confirming positive cases, so you are our best source of information about possible COVID-19 infections in schools.
- Please make use of the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and share any positive results with your school by contacting the school principal immediately.
- The Minister of Education has stated families must notify schools when students test positive on a Rapid Antigen Test or by a PCR test administered by SHA.
- Until now we have relied on the SHA to confirm a positive case by using a PCR test. Those resources remain stretched, which means an increasing reliance on rapid antigen testing.
- When we are made aware of a positive COVID-19 test result by a family or staff member, we will work with schools to determine and identify all potential close contacts. We will provide families with a letter informing them and with instructions about next steps.
- If you do not receive a letter, your child was not considered a risk for COVID-19 exposure in that particular case. Schools will not send out general COVID-19 notices.
- The Public Health Order regarding isolation periods has been updated. As of January 5, 2022, unvaccinated individuals who test positive must isolate for 10 days; vaccinated individuals who test positive must isolate for 5 days. Please see the graphic Saskatchewan Schools: Student Close Contact Protocol to help understand what it means if your child tests positive, or if they are a potential close contact.
- If there are a number of cases in a specific school, we will continue to work with public health officials as they determine whether or not to declare an outbreak and what further steps are required in these circumstances. We continue to be in contact with Public Health and rely on their expert advice.
- The volume of cases could lead to staff shortages in certain communities, which may force us to change the way we are operating our schools and temporarily move to remote learning. If this happens, we will inform parents and caregivers as soon as we can, but this may occur on short notice.
We continue to use multiple means to reduce COVID-19 in our schools. Students and staff must continue to wear masks in schools. Additional disposable masks are available at schools if students come without. Students and staff continue to practice hand hygiene, and schools have multiple sanitization stations available and easily accessible. Rapid Antigen Tests are available for all students and staff, if parents or caregivers need, you can contact the school to access additional tests. Tests are also available in many of our communities from the public libraries, chambers of commerce or local Co-op. We continue to ask for cooperation from parents and caregivers to keep students home if they are sick, and to make use of the Rapid Antigen Tests.
We know there may be many questions about isolation requirements or other COVID-19 related questions. Please direct all health-related inquiries to Healthline at 811. School staff are not health care providers, and are already shouldering the responsibility of sharing COVID notifications.
Northwest School Division will continue to provide parents and caregivers with as much information as possible using our various communication channels. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this new period of the pandemic, with the hope that we can all eventually move on from COVID-19. Until that time, we ask for grace as we work together to provide a safe learning environment.
Director of Education
COVID-19 Quick Reference Guide for Parents – January 10, 2022
FULLY VACCINATED: student has received 2 doses of vaccine and 14 days since the last dose.
CLOSE CONTACT: in a school setting, a pupil who rode a bus or who spent a total of 15 minutes in the same classroom or indoor space as a person who tests positive for COVID-19 is considered a close contact.
If a STUDENT TESTS POSITIVE for COVID-19:
- FULLY VACCINATED: student must self isolate at home for 5 days after the positive test or 48 hours after symptoms end, whichever is longer.
- NOT FULLY VACCINATED: student must self isolate at home for 10 days or 48 hours after symptoms end, whichever is longer.
If a STUDENT IS A CLOSE CONTACT to a positive case of COVID-19
- FULLY VACCINATED: student may continue to participate in school and all activities so long as they are not feeling sick.
- NOT FULLY VACCINATED and CONTACT IS NOT A PERSON IN THE HOME: student may continue to attend school during the school day only, and ride the bus so long as they are not feeling sick. Except when at school, students must self-isolate at home.
- NOT FULLY VACCINATED and CONTACT IS A PERSON IN THE HOME: student must selfisolate at home for 10 days from the last contact with the positive case.
There are only two situations where a student may not attend school:
- If they are feeling sick, students should stay at home until they are feeling better and should take a test for COVID-19.
- If they are not fully vaccinated and someone in their home is COVID positive, they must self isolate at home for 10 days from the last contact with the positive case.
Processes at schools have changed significantly as a result of changes made by the Government of Saskatchewan on December 30, 2021.
- Schools will no longer receive confirmation of positive cases from the SHA and will be relying solely on parent reporting to be aware of positive COVID cases.
- Schools will notify staff and families who have children in the same indoor space or bus as someone who has reported a positive test.
- Schools will not designate individuals as close contacts or monitor compliance.
- Parents should use this quick reference guide to support decisions related to their children.
- If additional clarification of Public Health restrictions is necessary, parents should contact Healthline at 811 for advice.
This Quick Reference Guide reflects the Public Health Orders dated November 25, 2021 and January 6, 2022. It is a summary and is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your family doctor or Healthline 811 if you have medical questions.