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Update: COVID-19 Prevention/Precautions

March 11, 2020

Update April 7

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Since March 30th NWSD teachers and school staff have been hard at work connecting with families and making plans to continue learning.

To support these plans, we have created a NWSD Supplemental Learning Plan for Families. The plan outlines the parameters and expectations for staff and students during school closure. Also included are a series of Frequently Asked Questions

The plan is available here:

NWSD Plan for Families

Thank you once again for doing your part to help slow the spread and support our frontline workers.

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Update March 26

Thank you for all you have done during this first week of school closure to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our province. Practicing social distancing supports our health care system and our many frontline workers who provide essential services in our communities.

We are here for you.

In addition to our core function of supporting student learning, Northwest School Division is committed to promoting student well-being, wellness, and mental health. When school staff return to work next week they will be reaching out to all of our students and families, offering support, making connections, and advising families of wellness supports available, both from our school division and through other organizations in our communities.

School staff will also be reaching out to discuss supports for student learning. 

The provincial government has stated that students will progress to the next grade in September 2020. For our Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9 students, this means that they will be beginning their next grade. For our Gr 10-12 students, this means that they will receive a final mark of 50 percent or greater on the outcomes they had completed to date in their credit courses and they will move on to more advanced coursework.

However, as the skills, knowledge, and strategies learned in each grade form the foundation for success in the next grade, students risk re-entering school with gaps in their learning from material not covered. Utilizing the supplemental learning opportunities over the course of the school closure period will improve your child's readiness for their next grade level.

To support families in supporting their children's learning, NWSD staff will be creating supplemental learning resources. These resources will be available in physical and/or digital formats.

Active use of these supplemental learning resources during this period will support your child's school success moving forward. Thank you for supporting your children's learning. Our teachers and school support staff will be working throughout the school closures to meet our students' needs.

Please continue to practice social distancing, and self-isolate when required.

The division will continue to be in touch and someone from your child's school will reach out to you next week. If you are looking for updates, please check our website - www.nwsd.ca. Please do not contact the school, as we will have limited staff in the building. 

Update March 24

NWSD Playground Closures Due to COVID-19

Northwest School Division and the Canadian Playground Safety Institute encourages families to not use any playground equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, which includes equipment within our school playgrounds;

Germs at the Playground in a COVID-19 World

Chances are if a playground is teeming with children, it's also teeming with germs. COVID-19 is the most recent challenge in the transfer of germs and/or disease amongst children in a play environment.

In most outdoor play spaces, the play equipment is cleaned infrequently, if at all. Most playground owner/operators count on Mother Nature to do the cleaning. And for the most part, Mother Nature does a good job. However, there are still plenty of germs at an outdoor playground. Nasty germs can spread across the playground, as small hands grasp the swing chain, use the hand-grips at the monkey bars, and push off from the slide. It turns out, the playground may be many times more germ-infested than virtually any surface in your home. In addition to the germs already at the playground, already sick children also in attendance at the local park can present even more of a health threat to a child. 

'Social distancing' is defined as maintaining at least 6 feet of space between people – this can be a challenge for little ones in a playground setting, especially if multiple groups of people are trying to access the space.

Please respect the guidelines from the Canadian Playground Safety Institute and Northwest School Division and stay off all play equipment.

We will advise our communities when the restrictions are lifted.

Thank you for doing your part to help 'flatten the curve'

Update March 20

We are grateful for your support over the past few days. It has been a confusing and stressful time for all, but we thank you for your understanding and patience.

From March 20 – 29th, all NWSD schools and offices will be closed as our staff take time to care for their families. If you need to contact someone at the division during this time, please contact our Meadow Lake office. Reception will be available intermittently. We encourage you to check our website – www.nwsd.ca -  for any updates if you need information.

In the coming days we will have more information about what our educational landscape will look like, as the Provincial Education Response Team continues to work and develop a plan for supplemental learning.

Our communities offer a variety of supports that families can draw on. If your family is food dependent, please contact your local food bank.

As a division, we are working on a plan to collaborate with local agencies in our various communities to see how we can best support family needs going forward.

We recognize that we are in a time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty. It is completely understandable if you are feeling overwhelmed and need support over the coming days. Please reach out to one of the many phone lines or online services available in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Please keep your family home during this time and stay healthy and safe by practicing social distancing. This means making a concerted effort to keep physical distance between each other. We encourage you to pay attention to the news and the direction from our Province. As we have all seen, this is a situation that can change rapidly.

Our division will remain in contact over the next weeks with any updates.

Though we are all taking precautions and practicing social distancing, you do not need to go through this alone. Below are a list of resources:

Kids Help Phone

• 1-800-668-6868 or www.kidshelpphone.ca

• 24 hours a day

• Phone counseling, web counseling, text support

• For youth 20 and under

First Nations & Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line

• 1-855-242-3310

• 24 hours a day

North Saskatchewan Crisis Line

• 1-800-611-6439

• 24 hours a day

Saskatchewan Health Authority Mental Health

• Lloydminster: 1-306-820-6250

• North Battleford: 1-306-446-6500

• Meadow Lake: 1-306-236-1580

Saskatchewan Farm Stress Line

• 1-800-667-4442

• 24 hours a day

Mobile Crisis Unit

• Mobile Crisis Helpline -24/7

• 306-757-0127

• www.mobilecrisis.ca

 Crisis Suicide Helpline

• 306-525-5333

 Child Abuse Line

• 306-569-2724

Saskatchewan Problem Gambling Helpline

• 1-800-306-6789

National Crisis Line

• Suicide Prevention and Information

• 1-833-456-4566 (Toll Free)

• www.yourlifecounts.org

• https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/ (Support services in SK)


Update March 18

UPDATE - Wednesday, March 18 - 8:00 AM

The Government Response Planning Team and the Northwest School Division Board and Administration, with advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Saskatchewan, have planned that starting at 3:30PM on Thursday, March 19, the Northwest School Division will pause all educational operations for a one-week period.

Starting Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 3:30PM, ALL staff are assigned to home with pay to support their own health and the health and safety of their families during this global pandemic.

To achieve the health and safety of our teachers, support staff and community, and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we ask all staff to please remain at home until the day’s end Friday, March 27.

  • All NWSD employees (10 and 12 month) will be paid during all school closure. The Government of Saskatchewan has confirmed that we will have operational funding to the end of the school year.
  • We want to ensure everyone that this time served at home will be paid in full and there will be no loss of benefits for any employee.
  • Any employee who chooses to travel outside of Canada effective March 15, 2020 will assume the risks of such travel and will be expected to access available leave provisions (vacation, personal, unpaid) if they are stranded, delayed or required to self-isolate upon return to Canada.
  • Staff and families are encouraged to keep children at home and practice social distancing as soon as possible.

This one week away will allow the Government Response Planning Team and individual school divisions to put in longer term plans to support students, staff and families moving forward to ensure that no student’s education is negatively impacted by the closing of schools indefinitely.

NWSD will be enacting our business continuity plan to ensure that essential services, such as payroll and building security, continue to function while ensuring all staff safety. This plan will include having some form of availability for parents, families and staff to call or email school division personnel if they have questions during this time.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of our staff and communities, as this decision by our province has presented many unknowns, and we will continue to work through the details and communicate information. We also understand that you may be feeling a lot of things right now and in the coming weeks or months. Please put all things education on hold and look after your health and the health of your family.


Update March 16

The Government of Saskatchewan outlined new measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following measures are effective as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

  • Pre-K – Grade 12 classes will wind down Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Families are encouraged to keep students home during the wind down if they are able. There will be no penalty for students staying home.
  • If your child is transported by bus, please let drivers know if they won't be on the bus.
  • Please take home student essential belongings. It is unknown when students will have the opportunity to collect items from the school once we close.
  • Please ensure your contact information is accurate with our schools prior to closure. There will be school to home communications during the closure.

Effective Friday, March 20, 2020:

  • All schools will be closed to students until further notice.
  • All students will receive a final grade based on their current grade.
  • Students will progress to their next grade level for 2020-2021.
  • All students eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate.
  • The Ministry of Education and school divisions will work with Saskatchewan Post-Secondary Institutions to adapt entry requirements for programs commencing in the next academic year.

Over the coming days our division will work with the Ministry of Education to make plans to implement education supports and opportunities for students during the closure. At this time we do not know what the programming will look like.

We know that this is a time of uncertainty for our communities. We strongly encourage families to follow the Federal and Provincial guidelines for social distancing and limiting interactions. Please access the website Saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus for the latest information about COVID-19 in our province.

We will continue to be in contact in the coming days and weeks. Please take care of one another.


Update March 15

The Government of Saskatchewan updated their Travel Guidance on Friday, March 13, 2020. Please note the important information below.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending residents postpone or cancel all non-essential travel outside of Canada. ALL TRAVELLERS are being asked to SELF-ISOLATE for 14 days after returning to Canada as a precaution. If this applies to your family, please contact your school upon your return and confirm the date your child will be able to return to school. 

Northwest School Division is asking families to keep children at home if they have any cold or flu like symptoms. If they exhibit these symptoms at school, their parent or caregiver will be called and they will be sent home.

Also if a member of your household has recently returned to Canada from abroad OR attended an event in Canada with identified cases of COVID-19, please contact your school as soon as possible.

Please use the guides published on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus for information about self-isolating and precautionary measures. There is a SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL for anyone concerned about symptoms.

It is important for families to take these guidelines seriously. Our school populations include vulnerable students, students who may have underlying health risks, or are connected to family members with health concerns. Please do your part to help flatten the curve.

Status of School:

As you know, the current situation is fluid and evolving quickly. We are in constant contact with the Ministries of Education and Health, who are advised by the Chief Medical Health Officer. Ultimately, the Chief Medical Health Officer will make any decision regarding school closures.

We will continue to provide updates to our families and stakeholders with any new information as it arises.

The Government of Saskatchewan has shared the following information about keeping schools open:

Saskatchewan.ca

Update March 13

4:00 PM

The Government of Saskatchewan provided an update to residents on Friday, March 13, with new guidelines on public gatherings and measures that are being implemented as of Monday, March 16th. As a result, Northwest School Division is taking the following actions:

  • All facility rentals are suspended until further notice
  • All field trips are cancelled
  • All large gatherings and assemblies are cancelled
  • All presentations with external guest speakers are cancelled

NWSD is reviewing procedures for Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences and we will advise families of any changes.

As always, if your child is sick, please keep your child home from school. If a parent or caregiver is experiencing any symptoms, please do not come to the school. Make separate arrangements for drop off/pick up at school.

  • Practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette (into the bend of your elbow);
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick; 
  • Avoid hugging, kissing, shaking hands and high-fiving; and,
  • Don't share water bottles, band instruments, eating utensils, personal electronic devices, ear pods, or food.

Individuals who may have concerns about their health can call the provincial HealthLine at 811 for advice and support. Information and updates regarding COVID-19 are available on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus

We will keep families updated on any further changes to our school operations. Please contact your school if you have questions.

10:00 AM

As information regarding the Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 evolves over the coming days and weeks we encourage you to ensure your contact information is up to date with your child's school. We will continue to share informational updates and may need to send out information rapidly, so we will be making use of our SchoolMessenger notification system. 

Remember, if your cell phone is registered with the school you can subscribe to receive text messages by texting 'Yes' to 724665. Standard Message and data rates apply.

How to opt in to SchoolMessenger

The province is continuously updating the website Saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus with all the latest information relevant to the virus and the how it is being handled in Saskatchewan, including travel information and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms.

This is a time of heightened anxiety for many of our students. As a division we will strive to model calmness for our students, and provide prudent, fact-based information.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the division precautions, please contact your school principal or the NWSD Meadow Lake office.


Update March 11

As news of the Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 continues to be shared around the world and in Canada, we would like to provide an update to families.

Northwest School Division takes direction from the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority on matters of health and safety for our staff and students. Though there are no cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan and the risk to residents remains low, we would like to share the following preventative measure that are underway in our facilities:

  • Wellness Coordinators and staff are reminding students of proper hand-washing protocol and cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Hand sanitizing stations are located in all schools
  • Thorough cleaning and disinfecting of high contact surfaces
  • Reminding students to stay at home if they are sick

There is no evidence that surgical masks protect persons who are not sick. The World Health Organization does not recommend the use of any masks if you do not have a travel history and respiratory symptoms.

The Ministry of Health recommends contacting the Saskatchewan HealthLine 811 if you have questions about symptoms. The website Saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus is being updated with all the latest information relevant to the virus and the how it is being handled in our province.

In addition to these preventative measures, we encourage all families with plans to travel in the coming weeks to refer to Health Canada's travel advisory information for the most up to date travel precautions.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the division precautions, please contact your school principal or the NWSD Meadow Lake office.