Parent Letter - RVS Operations Update

Dear RVS Parents/Guardians, there are several important updates to share with you today—some of which will take effect Oct. 12, 2021, as required by the Government of Alberta. Please excuse the lengthy letter and the timing before a long weekend. It was important to share these recent developments with families as quickly as possible.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, RVS has worked hard to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Our approach has followed the direction and recommendations provided by the Government of Alberta, the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), and Alberta Health. The following changes were driven by new direction given to school boards as the government continues to respond to the provincial state of emergency and by our ongoing commitment to protect our students and staff.

Key changes:

  • Positive COVID-19 case notifications to families
  • When there are three new positive cases in a class in the past five calendar days, Kindergarten – Grade 6 classes will shift to temporary at-home learning for 10 calendar days
  • Outbreak in schools now classified as 10 or more cases, not 10 per cent absenteeism
  • Implementation of proof of vaccination, or a negative test for all RVS staff and any parents/guardians, volunteers, contractors, or visitors entering an RVS school or site

Notification of positive COVID-19 cases in schools
When RVS is informed of a positive case that was at school while infectious, the school will send out a letter to their school community informing them of the possible exposure and provide direction received from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

Temporary at-home learning for Kindergarten – Grade 6 classes with three or more cases within five days
As directed by government, any Kindergarten - Grade 6 classes with three or more AHS confirmed infectious cases of COVID-19 within the same class that occur within a five-day span must move to temporary at-home learning. Learning will continue at home for 10 calendar days from the decision being made by AHS. Notifications will be sent the day before at-home learning is to begin (or earlier if on a Friday/holiday). Parents/guardians will not be asked to pick up their children during the school day unless they are symptomatic. Please see the Kindergarten – Grade 6 Temporary At-Home Learning Parent Guide for more information.

Outbreaks
Schools with 10 or more AHS confirmed cases may be placed in outbreak status by AHS. RVS will follow any additional direction that may come from AHS. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, RVS may decide to shift full classes or grades to temporary at-home learning. Moving an entire school to temporary at-home learning remains an Alberta Education decision.

Proof of vaccine or negative test requirement coming soon for staff, parents/guardians, volunteers, contractors and visitors
The government has called on all school authorities to require COVID-19 proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result for all adults entering a school. Given this, RVS has decided, with the support of the Board of Trustees, to require proof of vaccination, or a negative test for all RVS staff and any parents/guardians, volunteers, contractors, or visitors entering an RVS school or facility.

As a public school division with a responsibility for 26,500+ students in our care and as an employer of 2,600+ staff, this is a necessary way forward in doing our part to keep our students safe and in school and protect our staff.

RVS Administration is in the process of finalizing the details of this new requirement and will share more specifics as soon as they are available. A timeline has not yet been established but there will be transition time before the procedure is in effect, recognizing the need for some individuals to have time to become fully vaccinated if they choose and for processes to be in place.

This proof of vaccine or negative test requirement will not apply to students. As Alberta has no specific provincial legislation that requires Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 students to have specific vaccinations to attend school, school divisions cannot deny students access to education due to their immunization status.

As strongly emphasized by Alberta’s CMOH, vaccines are the most effective means of protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. We continue to encourage all those eligible to receive the vaccine to get their shots as soon as possible.

Further detail about these updates is available in the 2021/22 Return to School Operational Plan. I encourage you to review this important information.

I understand this is yet again another set of new COVID-19 health protocols and that they may be upsetting for some. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for your patience and support as our schools, communities and the province continue to battle this pandemic. On Thanksgiving and always, I thank you for everything you do to help us keep our schools positive and safe places for our students to learn.

Sincerely,

Greg Luterbach

Superintendent of Schools

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