June 18th, 2024

Holy Spirit School Division ready to welcome students

By Al Beeber on August 28, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Holy Spirit Roman Catholic School Division is ready to greet students for another school year on Wednesday.
With a fourth wave of COVID-19 hitting, superintendent Ken Sampson said Friday the division is following Alberta Health protocols and will change them if given a new directive.
“Of course we’re cautious, we’re wanting to make sure we’re doing things in the right way and we’ve always since the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve always relied on the direction from both Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Education department in terms of informing our direction,” said Sampson.
“And so through the entirety of the pandemic, leading up to this point the direction through the medical health order has certainly been enforced on our end and reinforced and we’ve put those things in place,” Sampson said.
“Moving forward into the 21-22 school year, we know as well that all of the restrictions have lifted. We are cautiously moving forward, knowing full well that should there be any reason at any time to pivot and move in a different direction then we will do so. But we will take the lead from our provincial leaders.
“We’ve always contended we do a great job with education but we’re not medical experts so we rely on the experts in the field,” said Sampson.
The Holy Spirit guidelines specifically state “in the absence of legislation and associated health orders, we are unable to mandate the use of masks in our division. However, we highly recommend that masks be used as a means of reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses. As a result, all those who choose to wear a mask in our schools will be unequivocally supported.”
Its practises for the upcoming school year include:
-promoting and facilitating hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
– staying home when sick
– maintaining ventilation
– ensuring regular cleaning and disinfection of high traffic/touch areas
– ensuring that masks are mandatory on buses
Anyone who has symptoms, based on the guidelines, available at the Holy Spirit website, is required to quarantine and should test for COVID-19.
Additional measures if a school has an outbreak could include:
– requiring the use of masks;
– implementing classroom cohorts;
– limiting extra-curricular activities;
– making localized rapid testing available.
The school board will also implement other measures “as determined by Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education.
The school board has 5,000 students across the division which runs from Pincher Creek to Bow Island and includes Lethbridge as well as Picture Butte to the north, said Sampson.
“Some of the protocols that we’ve put in place before are still going to be there. We will continue with providing enhanced cleaning protocols, hand washing and hand sanitizing stations will be still available. We’ll encourage people to be staying home if you’re not well and possibly get tested. But also that we are encouraging anyone to wear masks and we will absolutely support them to the Nth degree to make sure they feel safe,” said the superintendent.
Social distancing can also be done “but it’s difficult in schools of course because you have limited spaces. And we can emphasize and understand with our families as well. But we have to try to do the best we can given the circumstances we have. So the mask encouragement is where we’re going; we strongly encourage everyone to wear them.
“As soon as we get a different direction we’re moving in that direction. We will respond accordingly with the provincial government and chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure that we are doing the right thing.”

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