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Friday , 21 January 2022

NLPS students are not required to be vaccinated as in-person learning returns

Students are not required to be vaccinated and the Northern Lights Public Schools Board (NLPS) cannot deny students access to education due to immunization status as Alberta’s Education Minister announced last week that students would be returning to in-person learning on Monday, January 10.

“That has been stated very clearly by Alberta Education,” Nicole Garner , Communications for NLPS said with regards to the vaccination of students.

“Alberta Education has recommended that all school divisions develop policies that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for teachers, staff and any other adult who enters a school,” Garner told Lakeland Connect. “Many school divisions have already put policies in place.”

Garner says when this was discussed at a previous meeting, the Board deferred further discussion pending a legal opinion.

“It has not come back to the Board since then, so at this time we do not currently have a vaccination policy in place for staff,” Garner said. “I have not seen the agenda for next week’s meeting yet, so I don’t know if the Board will be discussing it then or not.”

The next Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 12.

Alberta’s Education Minister announced that students would be returning to in-person learning yesterday on Monday, January 10.

“We would like to thank all of our NLPS families for their understanding and support during this unexpected extension to the winter break. We are excited to welcome students back to school on Monday and resume regular classes,” Garner said.  Our goal throughout the pandemic has been to have students attending school in-person as much as possible. School divisions currently have the authority to shift a class or individual grade at a school to at-home learning on a temporary basis. This will only be done if it is not possible to continue in-person learning due to high rates of student or staff absences. In the event this occurs, we will provide parents and guardians with as much notice as possible. We hope that the other measures that are in place at our schools will prevent or minimize the need for us to shift online.”

Medical Masks and Rapid Testing Kits Delivery

Garner says that they have been receiving many questions from parents and guardians about the medical masks and rapid testing kits the government announced will be distributed to students.

“These items are being sent directly to schools next week,” Garner said. “We do not know when they will arrive at each of our schools.”

Schools will be sending out a form for parents to fill out to indicate if they want to receive masks and/or testing kits. If you want to receive these items, please complete the form so that NLPS can make sure they get them to you as quickly as possible once they have arrived at their schools.

“If you do not want to receive these items, do not fill out the form,” Garner said. “We will only send items home to families that request them.”

Mask Requirements at NLPS

At this time, there have been no changes made to mask requirements. Students can continue to wear the same masks to school that they were wearing prior to the winter break.

“It is recommended that students wear medical-grade masks like the ones that Alberta Education will be sending us,” Garner said. “If cloth masks are worn, it is recommended that they have at least three layers: two layers of tightly woven fabric plus a filter.”

More information on mask guidelines is available on the Government of Alberta website: COVID-19: Mask requirements.

COVID-19 Protocols in Schools

The government is in the process of updating the previous guidelines to reflect changes that have been made over the last few weeks.

“We know there will be changes made to COVID reporting and contact tracing and there may be changes to other recommendations and guidelines,” Garner said. “Once we receive the updated documents and have had a chance to review what is in them, we will share any changes with families as soon as possible.”

More information for families is available on the Staying safe and healthy this school year website.

Requests of Families

Garner says to help NLPS meet their goal of having students learn in-person as much as possible, they request that families support NLPS in the following ways:

  • Continue to complete the Alberta Health Daily Checklist and follow the instructions included in that document. Please be aware that updates are made to this checklist on a fairly regular basis, so please ensure you are using the most up-to-date version. Keep your child at home if they are sick.
  • Participate in the at-home rapid testing program. The Province recommends that if you don’t have symptoms, you perform rapid tests twice per week, 72 hours apart (For example Sunday and Wednesday or Monday and Thursday).
  • Notify your child’s school if your child tests positive. This is not required, but assists us with monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in our schools and making decisions that help to reduce the spread of COVID in our schools.

“We know many families likely have questions that we have not answered,” Garner said. “As always, we encourage you to send your questions to [email protected] or to our Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers group on Facebook and we will do our best to answer them with the information that is currently available to us.”

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is an award winning journalist and is from Whitbourne Newfoundland. Green graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, River Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner and can fillet a Codfish.