Superintendent Pamela Guilbault and Deputy Superintendent Chantel Axani provided the board and those in attendance a COVID update.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is no longer informing school jurisdictions of confirmed COVID cases. Instead, Lakeland Catholic is relying on a parent/guardian or staff member to report a positive case.
This voluntary information is shared on each school’s website.
“It was very important that we continue this communication with our parents,” said Axani.
In addition to sharing the number of active COVID cases among students with the board, Axani outlined the current staff absences due to illness, not necessarily COVID.
While Axani focused on providing the statistics, Guilbault explained the most recent changes to the division’s and province’s COVID protocols, following the announcement of an extended winter break on December 30, 2021.
After meeting as a division with principals and staff, as well as neighbouring school jurisdictions, the Minister of Education, and AHS officials, Lakeland Catholic amended their COVID protocols ahead of students returning to school January 10.
Part of this process was ensuring the division’s guidelines aligned with those of other local school divisions.
This included Lakeland Catholic’s decision not to allow inter-school athletics. Guilbault explained while students are permitted to practice sports, they aren’t competing at this time.
“We are reviewing this weekly and we will make sure that (all local school division) resume at the same time. We want the students to play, but we want them to play safely,” Guilbault said.
As part of the province’s protocol adjustments, divisions now have the authority to shift a class or grade to online learning if it is operationally impossible to have that class due to lack of teaching staff or student assistant staff. As of the board meeting, there were no LCSD classes learning online due to a lack of staffing.
Lakeland Catholic received their first shipment of medical-grade masks and rapid tests for students.
These items have been distributed with another shipment on the way. The division has additional masks available in case there is a delay in receiving the next order.
Each school has been outfitted with MERV-13 air filters and the filtration systems are being closely monitored by LCSD’s Operations and Facilities Manager. In addition, the division has contracted an engineering firm based out of the Edmonton-area to review LCSD mechanical systems.
“We are doing what we need to do to ensure the health and safety of our students” stated Guilbault.
Students in Grades 4 through 12 are now being asked to wear their masks more than they were before they went on the winter break.
Guilbault emphasized that mask breaks are permitted throughout the day and teachers are encouraged to give their students breaks as needed.
Rapid tests are available to staff at each site should they feel the desire or need to take one.
These protocols have been put in place in addition to the already-existing ones such as enhanced cleaning of high-touch and high-traffic areas, cohorts, fogging, and hand hygiene.