Important Update: Province Issues New Directives for Schools (Aug. 24, 2021)
August 20, 2021
On September 8, 2021, Hanover School Division looks forward to welcoming our students back into our schools. We believe the best place for learning is in school with teachers and alongside peers. Our planning for the school year focuses on renewal and addressing the pandemic’s impacts on mental health, well-being, and learning.
Schools will begin the school year at the Caution (Yellow) level of the Pandemic Response System. Schools will work with Public Health officials and Manitoba Education to implement any additional public health measures as required by Public Health. Contingency plans will be in place should our schools be elevated to the Restricted (Orange) level. Our leadership team is carefully reviewing the recently published Manitoba’s Restoring Safe Schools Planning Guide and current COVID-19 public safety protocols. As always, we will follow the guidance of Public Health and Manitoba Education to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
In preparation for the start of the new school year, the province has released a Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Students on what to expect when schools reopen in September. We strongly encourage you to read through the entire document, but we would like to highlight a few key points specific to our back-to-school planning:
- At present (Aug. 20, 2021), Public Health has determined that masks are recommended for all students, staff and visitors. Masks and personal protective equipment will be made available to schools. We encourage students and staff to follow the Public Health recommendation, as it may be helpful in preventing HSD from being moved into the Restricted (Orange) level or remote learning should cases rise in our schools and/or community. Please be aware that Public Health may change the mask directive at any time. HSD will continue to review mask protocols and will adjust as needed.
- Staff and students are expected to continue to follow the fundamentals of self-screening, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick. Parents/caregivers must screen their children for COVID-19 symptoms before sending them to school. Schools will continue to send symptomatic students/staff home.
- Students will attend class full-time and will be in their regular classroom. Cohorts will be used for Kindergarten to Grade 6 to reduce potential exposure in students not yet eligible for vaccination. Schools will manage the flow of people in common areas. There will continue to be less furniture in many of our classrooms to allow for optimal flow and space at the start of the school year.
- Schools will continue to be cleaned on a regular basis with special attention to high-touch surfaces and washrooms. Water fountains will continue to be non-touch. We encourage the use of refillable water bottles.
- Sports, extracurriculars, band, choir, and music are allowed to resume and will follow all Public Health and Sport Manitoba requirements. Schools will publish additional information regarding extracurricular activities and sports.
- School bus transportation will resume. Assigned seating will continue, with each bus considered a cohort. Mask usage on buses will also follow current public health recommendations. Buses will be cleaned on a daily basis. Although our regular busing schedule will resume, reducing the number of students on our buses will help to minimize virus exposure to riders. Therefore we strongly encourage alternative transportation where possible.
- Public Health officials have indicated that they may offer approved COVID-19 vaccines through the school-based immunization program. It is our understanding that parents/caregivers will receive advance notification, and student vaccination will require parental consent. We expect to learn additional information in the coming weeks and we will continue to communicate to our parents/caregivers.
- As noted in previous correspondence, schools will release homeroom teacher names (Gr. K-8) in late August. Parents/Caregivers should check the PS Parent Portal between Aug. 23-25 to find the name of their child’s assigned teacher. School Offices reopen on Aug. 25.
Further communication will take place prior to the start of the school year. Individual schools will publish school-specific information once school administration returns at the end of August.
We thank you for your continued partnership as we continue to create safe environments and provide education to all of our learners in the Hanover School Division. We look forward with great anticipation to the start of a new school year.
Shelley Amos, Interim Superintendent/CEO
Hanover School Division