Gateway Gazette

Foothills School Division: COVID-19 Information

UPDATE March 12, 2020 4:30pm

The Alberta government released today at 3:34pm new recommendations that include the cancellation of all large gatherings and events.  They are also now advising Albertans against travel outside of the country.

Foothills School Division has responded to this recommendation by cancelling all future events.  This includes Foothills School Division student or staff participation in extracurricular activities such as sporting events, field trips, and community events.

“The safety of students and staff is paramount. The impact of COVID-19 is serious and we continue to believe these steps are necessary to ensure student and staff safety,” said Superintendent Chris Fuzessy.

“At this point in time the situation is rapidly evolving.  Parents and staff will have many questions in the coming days.  We are dedicated to maintaining a strong partnership with families in our effort to provide the very best education for students.”

If you have any questions or concerns please contact your school principal or you can email us at communications@fsd38.ab.ca

The Foothills School Division COVID-19 Response Team is continually evaluating the safety of our schools.  Alberta Health Services assures us that at this time, schools can remain open.
 

UPDATE March 12, 2020 2:45pm

Dear Foothills School Division families, 

We know that school communities are growing increasingly concerned with the announcement of new cases of COVID-19 within the province. Alberta Health Services (AHS) is actively monitoring the situation and leading the response in Alberta. We take our direction from AHS and will continue to respond and act in-line with their recommendations.

Please note: 

  • If your child is sick, please do not send them to school.  Call the school to report their absence. 
  • If your child is sick or exhibiting symptoms while at school, you will be notified to pick them up.
  • AHS recommends that if you or your child have symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing and your family has travelled outside Canada or has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, stay home and call Health Link 8-1-1. 

We will continue taking necessary steps to minimize risk and keep our students and staff safe. The following steps are recommended by AHS to prevent the spread of common respiratory illnesses (such as influenza) as well as COVID-19 whether at home or while travelling:

  • use good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Dispose of tissues immediately and wash your hands
  • avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill
  • don’t share items that may have saliva on them such as drinking glasses and water bottles
  • clean high touch surfaces such as taps, door knobs and counter tops frequently
  • contact your primary health provider or Health Link by calling 811 if you have questions or concerns about your health

The health of the Foothills community is a shared responsibility.  We appreciate your support in ensuring our schools remain safe, caring, and welcoming learning environments.

We will share any further information we receive on COVID-19. Our Division website will be continually updated with ongoing information.

Thank you for your support.

Chris Fuzessy
Superintendent of Schools
Foothills School Division

 

UPDATE March 12, 2020 10:00am

The Foothills School Division COVID-19 Response Team is sharing the following information regarding risk-informed decision making for mass gatherings.

With information from the World Health Organization, Alberta Health Services, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the COVID-19 Response Team is currently evaluating non-essential gatherings.  Extracurricular activities and business activities occurring across the division may be adjusted, rescheduled, or restricted.

Risk mitigation adjustment strategies could include:

•    Reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding;
•    Staggering arrivals and departures;
•    Providing packaged refreshments instead of a buffet;
•    Increasing access to handwashing stations;
•    Promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick);
•    Offering virtual or live-streamed activities; and
•    Changing the event program to reduce risk activities such as those that require physical contact between participants.

This is an evolving situation requiring a rapid response.  We will be sharing information with our school communities as it becomes available.  We thank you for your patience as we work together to ensure that our schools remain safe, caring, and welcoming learning environments.


Prevention

There are two important ways to prevent and control respiratory viruses in school settings:
 
The first is for students and staff who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) to stay home from school. If your child is not feeling well, we ask that you keep them home so that they can rest and recover. As always, remember to inform the school of the absence.
 
The second way to prevent and control respiratory viruses is the consistent practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and water, which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses.
 
Children in the school setting should clean their hands:

  • Before leaving home and on arrival at school.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After breaks and sporting activities.
  • Before food preparation.
  • Before eating any food, including snacks.
  • Before leaving school.

 
If you have a younger child, support them at home by supervising and assisting in hand hygiene. In schools, instruction will be provided by staff. We are enhancing our communication to students about hand-washing, sneeze/cough etiquette, and preventing illness – including new signage and supplies at each site across the school division.

REMINDER: Masks are not necessary for people who are not experiencing symptoms. In children in particular, masks can be irritating and may increase touching of the face and eyes, which increases the risk of infection. Children who have symptoms should be kept home from school rather than relying on masks.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles, water fountain push buttons) helps prevent the transmission of viruses. Our school division has asked our custodial services to focus attention on daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces at all of our school sites.

Food Sharing

Students should not be sharing food, utensils, dishes, and water bottles or drink containers. Although this practice is important for preventing exposures to allergens, it is equally important in reducing virus transmission between children.

Psychological Considerations

A new virus such as the COVID-19 can create anxiety and be difficult for students/children to understand, especially if someone they know is sick, or they see or hear troubling messages on the radio, internet or television. It is normal for children to feel worried and nervous and have questions.
 
Support your children by reassuring them about their personal safety and health:

  • Limit their access to news and online stories about the issue.
  • Maintain a normal routine unless otherwise advised by an authority.
  • Encourage them to talk to you about their concerns.
  • Reassure them they are safe.
  • Advise them of steps they can take to stay healthy:
    • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing the ABC’s to measure time), especially after coughing or sneezing.
    • Cough and sneeze into arm or tissue.
    • Stay home if they are not feeling well.
    • Keep hands away from face and mouth.
    • Stay healthy by eating healthy foods, keeping physically active, and getting enough sleep.

Field Trips

As the risk in Alberta remains low, there is no need to restrict any activities for students or staff, or to cancel school events or field trips to public spaces.

All trips to International destinations have been canceled.

Health Information

Contact 8-1-1 (Health Link) or your health care provider for questions about your personal health situation.

Please note: School divisions do not have the authority to make public health decisions. If steps are taken in relation to a public health concern, it is at the direction of the Alberta Health Services and local health authorities. Foothills School Division is in regular communication with Alberta Education, Alberta Health Services, and school divisions across the province. At this time, school divisions have not been directed to take steps in relation to coronavirus.

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