At a special meeting today to discuss COVID-19 protocols for schools, the Board of Trustees voted, after deep deliberation, to reinstate the following enhanced health measures:
— All staff, as well as students from Grades 4 – 12 are required to wear masks in all common areas in school buildings, and where physical distancing is not possible. Masking for Kindergarten – Grade 3 students is recommended.
— Masking remains mandatory for all staff and students on school buses.
— Students can remove masks in classrooms when they are seated, facing the front in rows with appropriate spacing.
— Individuals who are unable to wear a mask will require a medical note in alignment with Alberta Health CMOH Order 40-2021.
— Masks are not required outside or while participating in a physical fitness activity or performance activity.
— Rentals of facilities and schools will remain operational where we have reciprocal agreements with municipalities. Masking is mandatory for all rental groups.
— Indoor school sports and extra-curricular activities will continue with masking requirements in place for students who are off fields or courts of play. All spectators and coaches will be required to wear a mask indoors.
— Schools will have discretion over whether visitors are allowed on site. Visitors, including parents/guardians and volunteers, entering Black Gold schools will be required to wear a mask
The above changes come into effect immediately and will be enforced beginning on Monday, September 13, 2021. The measures will be reviewed by the Board on a regular basis and amended as needed while being responsive to provincial health restrictions and the needs of the community.
Black Gold schools will continue with enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols, and staff continue to promote good hand hygiene and sanitary practices. Physical distancing will be encouraged throughout the school day.
As much as practical, Pre-kindergarten – Grade 6 students will be grouped together in cohorts, and interaction between cohorts will be minimized. It is recommended that students bring their own water bottle (labelled with their name) and fill water bottles rather than having them drink directly from the mouthpiece of a fountain.
For more information, please refer to the BGSD 2021-2022 School Entry Plan Updated Sept 8, 2021.
The most recent public health guidance from the Alberta Government is that masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces. As Trustee Martinson stated at the special Board meeting, schools are workplaces for our teachers, administrators, support and custodial staff.
In light of the rapidly increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in the province, especially among young children, the Board felt it had a responsibility to re-introduce mandatory masking, along with continuing with other health measures, to keep students and staff safe in our schools,” said Board Chair Devonna Klaassen. “It’s about keeping our schools open for student learning.”
“We have a duty, as per Board Policy 19, to provide welcoming, caring, respectful, safe and healthy learning and working environments,” said Chair Klaassen, “This is indeed a health decision that has been placed in the hands of education, and at the political level. Whether this is the right place for this decision to be made or not, it is our responsibility to set the parameters to protect the health and well-being of our students and staff, and do so in a way that is minimizing our infringement on operations.”
“We also plan to express our concerns and frustrations to the Province on the lack of leadership it has shown on this issue,” added Klaassen. “We are not medical experts, and when we are being asked to make impossible decisions of this nature, it can result in greater uncertainty and divisiveness within our school communities.”