We want to again thank you for entrusting us with the care of your children during this very challenging and atypical time. It's been great for everyone's mental health to see the children and staff back at school and achieve some degree of normalcy and routine back into our lives.
With that said, we want to illustrate a few of our decisions so that we can gain your public confidence and trust in us, but also because this is your school as much as it is ours.
Morning Arrival - we have made the decision to have students come directly into the building in the morning. This prevents congregating of large numbers of students in the playground which is impossible to keep cohorts separated which is a major risk factor for transmission of the virus. Based on the last few days, it has been a very successful and calm process. Kids are greeted at each divisional entrance by staff, and reminded to sanitize and wear a mask. The hallways and classrooms are also supervised by staff. Remember, the warning bell goes at 8:50am and we start school at 8:55am.
Physical Education Classes - This is status quo for ensuring each class has several opportunities throughout the week to have physical activity. We are using our gym and using our new divider in the gym so we can safely get two cohorts in the gym at once, which increases our capacity. We are also using our second smaller gymnasium for younger students. With that said, we are encouraging our staff to conduct PE classes "outside" as much as possible. There are numerous health benefits to this and as well, decreases the risk for transmission of the virus, while giving our young people a break from wearing masks.
Outdoor Learning - we are encouraging staff to use the outdoors for instructional purposes as much as possible, whether that is a science or language lesson. Each of our Grade divisions created a schedule so that we don't have multiple cohorts in the same area in our playground at the same time. We have also extended our boundaries to allow our staff to use neighbouring greenspaces. They have been provided with portable medical kits.
Recesses - Right now, we have adopted a model, endorsed by public health and by our senior administration. It is a model high on SAFETY. Right now, we have students staying indoors during recess, staying in their cohorts, and in their class. They are allowed to play games (ie. chess, cards, colouring, lego building, etc), in pairs and do not have to necessarily sit in their desks. But they do have to wear their masks and try to maintain 2m between groups. We have adopted this model for the first 2 weeks of school so that we can clearly establish routines, habits and a strong sense of their cohorts. If the virus is to spread, it will happen in the first couple weeks when guards are down or protocols are not firmly established. Knowing how important outdoor time, free play and socialization are, we have "strongly" encouraging staff members to make up the difference in the time at recess, during class time. In the past, students typically got 60 minutes of recess. Now, we are taking 60 minutes during class time to again, get outside for free play and socialization on top of their weekly physical education classes.
***If our protocols continue to work, and the incidences of COVID symptoms are low, we do have a plan to begin sending our students out for recess. We will be sending them out in designated areas in the playground, but only limited cohorts at a time. The plan will have each cohort go out 2x per day everyday of the week. But again, this will continue to be compensated by teachers devoting class time for outdoor learning and play. Cohorts will be heavily supervised to stay in their cohort, stay in their area and stagger their entry back into the school (since masks do not have to be worn outside).
We hope this makes sense, as we know "not knowing the WHY's" can build anxiety and distrust. Our goals remain the same, and in this order.
#1 Keep the kids SAFE
#2 Make sure they feel WELCOMED and LOVED
#3 Help them TRANSITION back to some sense of normalcy and routine and
#4 Deliver CURRICULUM and learn something new everyday.
Thanks for all you support Wildcats - it has made a tremendous difference to the energy in our community :)