2020-21 COVID-19 Response Updates
January 7, 2021
Happy New Year and all the best to each and every one of our Foothills Families throughout 2021.
Thank you for partnering with us in your child's education. The last several months would not have been possible without you, and we are grateful for your ongoing support and understanding. I know that many of you will join me in a sense of relief that 2020 is now behind us. It was a unique and challenging year in many ways - as a parent, an educator, and fellow member of our community.
As we begin 2021, I wanted to share a few pieces of news important to our schools and our students:
Our focus on student and staff wellness and safety remains the priority of Foothills School Division. Families can be assured that we continue to review, adapt, and implement pandemic recommendations based upon current information:
- Our School Relaunch Handbook is regularly updated to reflect and follow province-wide guidance.
- We remain committed to promptly reporting any COVID-19 cases within our school community and facilitating contact tracing when necessary.
- Our partnership with Alberta Health Services and the Medical Officers of Health in the Calgary zone continues to grow, and we appreciate their timely and ongoing support.
- We understand the province will continue with a full return to in-person learning from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 on January 11, 2021.
- Alberta Education has indicated that Diploma exams will be optional for January, and through the remainder of this 2020-2021 school year.
- Provincial Assessment Tests have been cancelled for the remainder of this school year.
- The Minister of Education has provided an open letter to families explaining the return to in-person learning on January 11.
Teachers will continue to provide final assessments for core courses at the end of each term to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning. The structure of these final assessments is flexible and may take the form of a project, performance task or exam. We have provided this flexibility in assessing student learning to support student well-being and achievement, recognizing the disruptions in learning that have occurred due to COVID.
Teachers will design these final assessments, ensuring they are fair measurements of what was taught and considering the unique circumstances of this term. We want to ensure our students are successful and have the advantage in competing for scholarships and admission to programs at post-secondary institutions.
Assessments are appropriate and necessary components of understanding student achievement and identifying potential gaps in learning relative to curricular outcomes. It is essential that we maintain rigor in learning, student motivation, and engagement. We encourage students to actively prepare for these final assessments to deepen understanding of curriculum, be well prepared for next steps in learning, and positively impact grades and achievement.
- There will be a teacher designed final assessment in grade 10 to 12 courses
- Teachers have the flexibility to provide their professional judgement in determining a student’s final grade in a course as per FSD Administrative Procedure 360
- The teacher’ professional judgement will consider whether any individual assessment, including the final assessment, is not consistent with student achievement demonstrated throughout the course
- The final grade will reflect the student’s overall achievement during the term
- The type of assessment is flexible (i.e. Exam, project, performance task, etc.)
- This assessment will be weighted at 30%
We recognize that circumstances of a pandemic are influencing students in different ways and trust that the flexibility in type of assessment and the role of professional judgement in assessing students will ensure your child receives assessment that is advantageous, fair, accurate, flexible and reflective of the student’s overall achievement during the term.
Foothills School Division will continue to provide and support at-home learning for students who are required to isolate due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please contact your school if you require these temporary supports. They are available for:
- students who are in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis,
- students identified as being a close contact to a positive case of COVID-19,
- students who were enrolled in the International Border Pilot and are awaiting their second negative test result prior to attending school,
- students who were not enrolled in the pilot program and who must remain in isolation for the full 14 days prior to attending in-person learning.
Please note that the school calendar was recently updated and Friday March 12, 2021 will now be a non-attendance day for all students.
This change to the school calendar was approved by the Board of Trustees to address previous revisions to the calendar. A professional learning day that was scheduled for Friday November 27, 2020 was converted to an Operational Day to allow our staff team flexibility to design and implement the provincially mandated shift to online learning. The professional learning that was scheduled for November 27, 2020 will now take place on March 12, 2021.
As we prepare and anticipate for winter weather families should be aware that temporary online learning may be required during periods of extreme weather.
Foothills School Division cannot guarantee that student cohorts, an essential COVID-19 health restriction, remain in place if extreme weather and road conditions do not permit schools to be adequately staffed. For the remainder of the school year, families should be prepared for a potential shift to online learning when poor weather conditions significantly impact operations. On these days, the school schedule will be followed to the greatest extent possible.
We realize that any change to the school schedule can cause additional challenges for our families. Please know that FSD will make the decision to move to online learning only when absolutely necessary for operational needs. We remain committed to communicating any changes as quickly as possible to assist in your planning.
Our COVID-19 Response engagement remains open and you are welcome and encouraged to submit your questions online.
We value your insight and suggestions and your voice remains essential in our work. We continue to invite you to take part in engagement opportunities through engagefsd.com.
Thank you once again for your support and partnership with Foothills School Division. If you have any questions regarding student learning or our COVID-19 response, you are welcome to contact your teacher, school, or my office. We remain proud to serve our community and are excited to welcome students back into school on Monday.
All the best in 2021,
Superintendent of Schools
November 26, 2020
To our valued families and school community,
We understand and appreciate that the most recent Government of Alberta announcements have raised many questions. Our families continue to be excellent partners in student learning. Your commitment and ability to adapt through the many shifts during the pandemic help us ensure your children (our students) are supported. We know this is challenging for all of you. Still, please know your efforts are recognized through both in-person and at-home learning experiences for students. Thank-you!
Our staff team has been working diligently towards finding clarity from the province, making decisions, and putting in place supports for our families. In our commitment to keeping you informed, we would like to share with you the following details:
- We are required to follow the online and in-person learning dates provided by the province.
- Friday November 27 remains a non-attendance day for students. However, this staff Professional Learning Day has shifted to an Operational Day. This internal decision was made to allow school teams additional time to prepare for a successful transition to online classes for students in grades 7 to 12 beginning Monday November 30, 2020.
- Learning will look different from the emergency learning that occurred in the spring and the expectation from the province is that close to full learning will take place.
- Students in grades 7 to 12 will be asked to access their online learning following their regular and current classroom schedule and courses.
- Teachers have flexibility to design learning for their students and families. This means that lessons will include both direct instruction times and course work for students.
- Your teacher will adjust their teaching to meet students’ learning needs each day. They remain available to support your family as part of your child’s school schedule.
- CTS & CTF courses will continue. Adjustments to course content are being made and will be shared with students as soon as possible.
- Diploma Exams will be optional for the rest of the 20/21 school year.
- Schools and teachers will send additional details to families and students on how to access learning as soon as it is available.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has provided an exemption for families with complex needs students. Please contact your school principal to learn about the supports that may remain available to your family.
- Your family may be eligible for a technology loan during this period if required. Please speak with your school to learn more.
- For families with limited or rural internet, your school can also provide you learning in printed packages.
- Families with younger students who aren’t familiar with technology are welcome to access printed packages during the January 4-8 week, please speak with your teacher to voice your learning preferences.
- Parents can expect a detailed Learner Profile for each child.
- Our teachers maintain an understanding of these unique times and are mindful when providing assessment.
- Students may be absent from in person as well as online for periods of time, we will continue to work together to ensure that your child recovers quickly from any absence in learning.
- The transition point to change your learning experience preference (in-person learning / Hub@Home) remains February 1, 2021.
- We remain committed to providing choice for families and will provide a survey in the coming weeks.
- Your teacher and school principal are aware of the above changes and can support your family through this temporary transition. Please reach out to them with any questions regarding your unique family needs.
- Chris Fuzessy, Superintendent of Schools answered many parent questions today. You can review the Facebook live video.
- If you have further questions, please visit our Q&A website.
Again, thank you for your ongoing support and understanding as we work together to once again pivot to an online learning environment for many of our students. We remain committed to working together to ensure that each student is supported through a continued focus on health, safety, and well being.
We look forward to 2021 when our schools and classrooms will once again be filled with our students. We will miss you.
Foothills School Division
November 24, 2020
Alberta’s government introduced today a series of new COVID-19 measures that impacts various sectors in our communities. As part of these new measures, all Grades 7 to 12 students province-wide will move to at-home learning effective November 30. Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 students will continue learning at school in-person until the winter break commences on December 18, 2020.
After the winter break, all Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 students across Alberta will be learning at-home for the week of January 4, 2021 to January 8, 2021. Students will return to in-person school learning on January 11, 2021.
These provincial decisions were made after careful consideration and are based on the advice of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. While in-school transmission appears to be occurring at relatively low levels, the temporary shift to at-home learning for junior high and high school students will help limit the spread of COVID-19 as well as alleviate operational and learning challenges. Requiring all students to stay home from school following the break is also intended to help reduce the impact of any exposures over the holidays.
Grades JK-6 students
- Continue in-person learning to Dec 18
- Winter break Dec 21 to Jan 1
- Move to at-home learning for the week of Jan 4 to Jan 8
- Resume in-person classes Jan 11
Grades 7-12 students
- Move to at-home online learning Nov 30 to Dec 18
- Winter break Dec 21 to Jan 1
- Continue at-home online learning Jan 4 to Jan 8
- Resume in-person classes Jan. 11
*All diploma exams are optional for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. Students and their families can choose whether to write an exam or receive an exemption for the April, June and August 2021 exams.
We understand the urgency to share next steps with our school community and are committed to providing detailed plans and information as soon as possible. This webpage will continue to be updated and urgent messaging will be delivered to the email addresses we have on file for each family.
Thank you for your continued flexibility, adaptability, and patience as we navigate this work. Have questions? Visit the public COVID-19 School Relaunch engagement to search submitted questions or ask your own.
Chris Fuzessy, Superintendent of Schools
October 29, 2020
The provincial government has updated their student daily health checklist. You can learn more in this letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Families should also refer to the following resources:
- Student Daily Health Checklist *new*
- How Long to Stay Home from School
- AHS Flowchart - Core Symptoms
- AHS Flowchart - Secondary Symptoms
- AHS Flowchart - Close Contact
October 13, 2020
The provincial government recently updated the Alberta Education Guidance For School Re-Entry Scenario 1 and the Alberta Education Implementation School Re-Entry Guidance documents.
In consultation with our sports, band, music and other working groups, together with our COVID-19 Relaunch Committee, we have implemented new updates to the FSD 2020-21 School Relaunch Handbook effective immediately.
Have questions? Visit the public relaunch engagement to search submitted questions or ask your own.
September 16, 2020
Earlier this month, the federal government announced it was making $2 billion available to provinces to support a safe school relaunch across the country. The Government of Alberta is distributing to Foothills School Division $2,864,000 of this funding based upon student population, which is equivalent to an increase of approximately 3 percent of our operating budget.
These funds are most welcome for our Division. We are faced with many unexpected costs for the 2020-2021 school year because of COVID-19. Our priority is to direct this additional funding towards safety and student learning. $1,474,600 will be available for additional staffing in a division-wide effort to decrease class sizes where possible, increase direct student EA support, and increase staffing HUB@Home Online Learning.
$369,400 will flow directly to our 21 schools to meet local needs (items such as additional text books, manipulatives, shared equipment) and focus on supporting high quality teaching and learning.
The remaining $1,020,000 has been dedicated towards additional COVID-19 related expenses that contribute to increased safety across the Division:
- $700,000 - Anticipated Guest Teacher Costs
- $250,000 - Additional Cleaning Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment
- $20,000 - Educational Assistant Substitutes
- $50,000 - Additional Custodial Services
Board Chair, Larry Albrecht says, “We appreciate the federal and provincial governments for recognizing the additional costs associated with a safe school relaunch. The funding will be used to help ensure our schools remain safe, caring, and welcoming learning environments.”
September 3, 2020
On August 4, 2020, the province announced mandatory mask use in schools. Recently, on August 29, 2020, a Public Health Order was established that repeats this prior announcement and provides the legal framework for enforcement.
This means a non-medical face mask that covers mouth and nose is mandatory while inside a Foothills School Division school for:
- All students attending grades 4-12
- All staff members
- All visitors
All younger students are strongly encouraged to wear a mask if they are able to do so. Individuals who are unable to wear a mask, must use their best efforts to physically distance.
A teacher may indicate that masks can be removed when an individual:
- Is seated at a desk or table within a classroom or space where an instructional program of study is taking place AND;
- Desks, tables, and chairs must be arranged in a manner to prevent persons who are seated from facing each other and the greatest possible distance between persons must be maintained OR,
- Is separated from every other person by a physical barrier.
- Is consuming food or drink in a designated area.
- Is engaging in physical exercise while 2 meters apart.
A student, staff member, or visitor may be exempt from the above if they are:
- Unable to place, use, or remove a non-medical face mask without assistance.
- Unable to wear a non-medical face mask due to a mental or physical concern or limitation.
- Providing or receiving care or assistance where a non-medical mask would hinder that assistance.
- Qualified for an exemption and have submitted a Mask Exemption Form to the school.
It is important for all individuals to also comply with other layers of protection such as frequent hand hygiene and physical distancing.
September 2, 2020
Your voice is important and we need your help to ensure a safe, caring, and welcoming return to school for students and staff.
Please share your wonders and concerns about School Relaunch through our online community engagement. We will be responding to every question asked. An opportunity for our families and students to provide suggestions and ideas will be available in the coming weeks.
If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please visit www.alberta.ca/covid19 or call Health Link 811.
August 6, 2020
The 2020-21 school year will look different for students across Foothills School Division. We will be providing your family with a choice to make in the best interest of your child and understand that for some this choice will be difficult. FSD is committed to ensuring you have the best possible information available to guide your decision making, our FSD School Relaunch Handbook remains online and accessible to our community with updates being made as new information becomes available. This information guides all of our school level planning.
Important dates for you to know:
August 14, 2020 - A survey to all families will be distributed. This survey will allow you to indicate your choice of learning experience, in-class or through our Hub@Home. It will also include questions regarding your transportation needs as well as a specific question for French Immersion families.
August 20, 2020 - School offices reopen from summer break. Please call or email the office to make an appointment if you need to visit the school in person.
August 21, 2020 - All families will receive a communication from their school with information on local school relaunch plans. This will include specific division-wide and school-based measures that will be in place before, during, and after school to help protect the health of our students and staff.
August 26, 2020 - The survey to all families will close.
August 31, 2020 - First Day of School. Many schools are implementing a staggered entry process so your start date may be different. Your school will be sharing staggered entry details if applicable.
Hub@Home is a short-term online learning approach for families who are not comfortable with their child returning to in-person classes this fall. For families who may be considering registering for Hub@Home, it is important to understand that unlike emergency at-home learning that took place in the spring of 2020, Hub@Home online learning requires students to participate full time in their learning to meet the outcomes in Alberta Programs of Study. Hub@Home is a combination of online instruction and independent work and requires a significant commitment from students and parents.
The Hub@Home will be offered to students in Grades 1-12 (English program of study) for the 2020-21 school year. FSD is not currently planning on providing an online French Immersion program, however this decision may be reconsidered dependent upon parent survey results.
Parents have between August 14 and 26, 2020 to register their children in Hub@Home online learning. By August 28, 2020, parents will receive an email confirming receipt of their registration form along with instructions on how to connect to Hub@Home.
Once a student is registered there will be one transition point to move from Hub@Home back to their school (February 1, 2021). Parents may request this transition by contacting their school principal prior to January 15, 2021. This commitment to Hub@Home allows for teachers to be assigned their in-school and online classes and to provide high quality consistent instruction to each student.
We have been working hard throughout the summer to prepare for the 2020-21 school year and are looking forward to sharing our local school level plans with you on August 21, 2020.
As always, we thank you for your ongoing patience, support, and understanding.
Chris Fuzessy, Superintendent of Schools
August 4, 2020
As part of our ongoing commitment to provide timely communication, please see information below relating to School Relaunch 2020-21.
An announcement this morning from the Minister of Education and the Chief Medical Officer of Health has indicated that the latest evidence for a safe return to school requires that mandatory mask use will be in place when schools reopen this fall.
This new health measure indicates:
- Mask use for students from grade 4 to 12 will be required.
- Mask use for kindergarten to Grade 3 students will continue to be optional.
- Mask use for staff and teachers will be required.
Student and staff mask use will be required when physical distancing cannot be maintained in the classroom, and within all shared and common areas such as hallways and on school buses. Exemptions will be made for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical or other needs. Please contact your school principal if your child requires an exemption.
We have been informed that Foothills School Division will receive two reusable masks from the provincial government for distribution to each student and staff member. In addition, the province will provide a face shield for every staff member, hand sanitizer for each school, and 2 contactless thermometers for each school. Foothills School Division has also sourced and ordered 2 reusable face masks for each staff member, a number of face shields, as well as contactless thermometers, and hand sanitizer for each school. These supplies will be distributed prior to school restart.
We understand that a mask must be comfortable, properly fitted, and familiar. As such, families and staff are encouraged to source their own masks if possible and practice proper mask use prior to the new school year.
While there are still many questions, FSD is committed to providing more details and information in the coming weeks. Our FSD 2020-21 School Relaunch Handbook will continue to be updated in the days and weeks to follow as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we receive provincial direction and implement new measures across the Division.
Chris Fuzessy, Superintendent of Schools
July 21, 2020
An announcement from the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Education today has indicated that Alberta School Divisions, including Foothills School Division, will be entering School Relaunch Scenario 1 when classes resume this fall.
This means that our students, families, and staff can expect near-normal operations with many health measures in place. Some of these measures include Alberta Health recommendations around physical distancing when possible, daily health screening of all students and staff, and prompt pick up or departure of individuals who demonstrate symptoms while at school. This will also include enhanced cleaning protocols in all schools and Division points of service.
Foothills School Division and the Board of Trustees have been preparing for scenario 1 since May. Many plans are already in place and we will be ready to resume operations and welcome students and staff into our school settings on August 31, 2020. We are also actively working with our Foothills School Division School Relaunch Committee and school and system leadership teams to finalize plans that meet all provincial recommendations. Foothills School Division believes that we have a collective responsibility to ensure that multiple layers of protection are in place in order to provide safe, caring, and welcoming learning spaces for our children and staff.
We appreciate the level of trust parents have in order to send their children into our care. FSD has always believed that it is important to consistently make information available to our community, and this has guided our work with COVID-19 from the outset.
Families can expect to receive detailed information regarding routine protocols and restrictions that apply to the Division and all of its schools prior to school start-up. Information will include staggered entry schedules for the first week of school, health screening information for parents to use with their children daily, as well as any new routines that will be in place as part of our collective responsibility to student, staff, and community safety and wellbeing at school.
Stay tuned for more information throughout the first few weeks of school as many of these new routines will undoubtedly need to be adjusted as they are implemented. Thank you for your support and for being an integral part of the collective responsibility we all share in the best interest of students, staff, and families.
In addition to our rich classroom experiences, Foothills offers a variety of flexible programming options to our families. Beginning September 2020, the Foothills School Division Hub Program is expanding to offer online programming from Grades 1 to 12. Hub@Home is designed for students and families who are interested in learning from home, need greater flexibility in pacing, when they access their learning, and where they learn. Students remain connected to their school and will access resources and teacher support through the Hub@Home program. You can learn more by visiting our website and clicking on Flexible Learning in Foothills.
Chris Fuzessy, Superintendent of Schools says, “We recognize the significant impact COVID-19 has had on students, families, and our staff team. We understand that there are many unique challenges and circumstances across the Foothills community, and we are committed to working together to ensure we provide ongoing high quality education to our students throughout the school year. We look forward to welcoming our students back to our schools”.
June 18, 2020
June 11, 2020
June 10, 2020
The Minister of Education and Chief Medical Officer of Health released information today regarding the 2020-21 School Re-Entry Plan. Foothills School Division staff and the FSD School Relaunch Committee will be reviewing these requirements and recommendations relating to the three possible provincial scenarios.
After a preliminary review of these measures, we are happy to see that a great majority align with our existing planning. Following minor modifications, we will be sharing a FSD 2020-21 School Relaunch Handbook the week of June 15, 2020. This handbook will help facilitate staff and family planning for the 2020-21 school year.
We appreciate the feedback we have received to ensure that our decisions reflect and address community voice. We are reassured that the province is confident in targeting scenario 1 (near normal operations with some health measures in place) which has been shared as a priority by many within our current engagement.
We are thankful to have received this information in advance, allowing time to ensure that our schools reopen as safe, caring, and welcoming learning environments.
Please note that as shared during the provincial announcement, a mandated re-entry scenario will be determined by August 1, 2020. We will provide this information to staff and families as soon as possible. We thank you for your continued flexibility and adaptability.
Visit our 2020-21 School Relaunch page for more information.
May 1, 2020 - Foothills School Division has established a 2020-21 School Relaunch Committee.
A Division School Relaunch Committee consisting of senior leadership, school leadership, and school council representation will begin work on a 2020-21 school relaunch plan which will design and support a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school.
The 2020-21 school relaunch plan is to discuss essential questions, considerations, and actions to help division and school leaders plan for a transition back to classroom instruction. Recommendations will be provided by a Wellness & Wellbeing Team, an Instruction & Learning Team, a Corporate (Facilities, Technology, Transportation) Team, and school-based relaunch teams. The School Division’s Executive Team will consult with the Board of Trustees, The Foothills Administrator’s Association, and the Division’s unions and associations on the recommendations received from the 3 teams above. This will further inform School Relaunch Committee discussions and provide voice to all stakeholders in the planning process.
Alberta Education has indicated School Divisions should prepare for three possible scenarios:
- Normal school operations are able to resume.
- Schools are partially reopened, with some level of restrictions.
- Teacher-directed at-home learning continues.
Board Chair Larry Albrecht said, “Bringing the voice of parents through the School Council representatives on the relaunch committee along with FSD’s educational leaders will ensure we are well positioned to re-open schools while prioritizing safety and well-being of our students and staff. We are eager to welcome staff and students back into schools as soon as Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education indicate it is safe to do so”.
Superintendent Chris Fuzessy added, “At this time there are many unknowns. The only certainty is that learning will continue. We must work together to address the many questions and needs of our school community. We will be ready for school operations to continue and will continue to utilize feedback to inform our decision-making moving forward.”
For any questions on the 2020-21 School Relaunch Committee, please contact email@example.com.