Message from the Superintendent regarding COVID-19
Dear Parents and Staff,
Over the last couple of weeks, you have received communication from Peace River School Division (PRSD) regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. PRSD continues to closely monitor this situation, as the health and wellness of our students and staff are of utmost importance.
PRSD has been working with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education to ensure the proper procedures are followed to foster the well-being of our students and school communities.
Some of the actions PRSD is taking include:
- Increasing cleaning and disinfecting at schools and other PRSD sites, including frequently touched surfaces.
- PRSD has canceled all international field trips.
- We are placing a ban on gatherings of 250 or more people to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus.
- On March 13, 2020, all divisional staff were notified of the Alberta Chief Medical Officer’s requirement that all Albertan’s refrain from traveling outside of the Country.
- Students and staff who travel outside the country will be required to self isolate for 14 days upon returning home. This will be strictly enforced.
- There will be zero tolerance for students with any respiratory symptoms attending school.
- Teachers will closely monitor their classrooms, and if any student is having respiratory symptoms such as cough or mild cold, the steps below should be followed:
- If a student, child or staff develops respiratory symptoms while at school, they should be removed from the school environment.
- Schools promptly separate the student or staff with symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and including symptoms that may seem like a mild cold) in an area separate from others, with adequate supervision until they can go home.
- To help prevent transmission, the most important steps are to reinforce strict respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene practices and to have the ill student or staff stay two meters away from others. If possible, the students should be placed in a separate room from other students with a closed door. Any rooms they have been in while symptomatic should be cleaned and disinfected before others enter them.
- Schools should notify parents if their child begins to experience respiratory symptoms while at school and arrange for immediate pick up.
- Students who begin to show respiratory symptoms while at school should be picked up by their parent and avoid travel on the school bus. If no alternative is possible, it is recommended that the student sits on a seat by themselves (two-metre separation) and wears an appropriately sized surgical mask, if available.
- Clean and disinfect any rooms the student was in while symptomatic. There is no need to take any further special precautions or to close the school.
- Students and staff who develop respiratory symptoms should remain home for 14 days after the start of the symptoms.
- If students are tested for COVID-19, those who test negative will be advised individually about returning to school.
The Chief Medical Officer of Alberta stated “Asymptomatic contacts that are self-isolating do not pose a risk to others and no additional messaging to parents and staff is required in these instances.”
Our provincial government has not directed school closures at this time; therefore, PRSD schools will remain open, as this is an ever-evolving situation; we will communicate any changes. Recently, the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta, Dr. Hinshaw stated that 74% of students do not have a stay at home parent, this along with other precautions being taken by the province supports the decision at this time for schools to remain open.
Health officials say parents can help protect themselves and their children from the spread of the COVID-19 Virus the same way they would for influenza and other respiratory illnesses by taking some precautions. In all cases, it is essential to set a good example and model the preventative measures listed below:
- Wash your hands often and well
- Reassure students/children about their personal safety and health. Telling students/children that it is okay to be concerned is comforting. Reassure them they are safe and there are many things they can do to stay healthy:
- Cough/sneeze etiquette: Cough and sneeze into arm or tissue.
- Stay home when sick: Students/children should tell parents if not feeling well, and together, make a plan to stay home from school.
- Keep clean: Keep your hands away from face and mouth.
- Stay healthy: Stay healthy by eating healthy foods, keeping physically active, getting enough sleep.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
- Contact your primary health provider or Health Link 811 if you have questions or concerns about your health.
- Listen to students and provide age-appropriate information.
- Maintain familiar activities and routines.
- Monitor for discrimination and/or bullying surrounding COVID-19.
PRSD’s recommendations may change during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact PRSD at 780 624-3601 with any questions. For additional information, parents and staff can visit Alberta Health Services, or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465 (LINK).
PRSD will continue to work together with students, staff, parents and health organizations in doing all we can to minimize the impact the COVID-19 Virus has on everyone's well-being.
Dr. Paul C. Bennett
Superintendent of Schools
Peace River School Division