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Saskatoon Public Schools
Inspiring Learning

Important information about school operations and COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Update April 2, 2020​ —

Saskatoon Public Schools' supplemental learning plan guides the work of teachers as we support student learning at home. Our goal is for all students to feel connected to school and learning.

During the pause in school operations, division staff explored how we can offer learning support to students and families at home. This isn’t simple; the work of a classroom teacher can’t be easily replicated through an online classroom. While there are many questions to answer, the plan provides a base for the work going forward.

Read the full Supplemental Learning Plan

Update March 30, 2020​ —


Message to parents and caregivers from Director of Education Barry MacDougall

I want to begin by saying thank you for your continued support of our schools and our staff members. We know this is more than a disruption. Education starting from a young age is vital to the growth of our children. We are working to right the ship as much as we can during these turbulent times.

As you know, the Ministry of Education directed all schools to pause educational operations last week. While this was done first and foremost to protect the members of our school communities, it provided much-needed time for the ministry and numerous education partners to determine the next steps for students as we navigate these uncharted waters.

The ministry created the Response Planning Team (RPT) with representatives from key education stakeholders to address the instructional needs of students for the remainder of the year, and the adaptation of school division operations. See the letter from the RPT for more information HERE.

Last week, our division staff continued to work on how we can offer learning support to students and families. This isn't simple; the work of a classroom teacher can't be easily replicated through an online classroom. Student equity, access to technology, assessment of student learning, supports for individual needs, and introducing new platforms and software were just a few of the numerous questions that need addressing. We haven't answered them all yet, but we have a start.

Later today (March 30), you will receive information from your child's school regarding how learning will move forward this week. This message from the school will outline what to expect with regards to weekly learning plans, as well as individual opportunities to connect with teachers. Our goal is for teachers to support students learning at home by being accessible during the school day. We know student learning in the home requires support from parents and caregivers, which may be challenging right now. Our teachers will provide an appropriate amount of work to help prepare our students for their return to school, but not overburden your family. They will be accessible to provide regular guidance and support.

There are still many questions we are working to answer. As we endeavour to provide educational support in an entirely new way, we will encounter problems. While this class cancellation is temporary, we don't know when schools will re-open. We ask for your patience as we work through these challenges. Like many of you, much of our school staff members will be working from home while also caring for loved ones. They remain committed to their students and will do what they can to provide what your child needs.

As I noted before, our division has created an educational resource page for elementary school families that provides numerous links to academic sites appropriate for each grade level. These resources can be found at www.saskatoonpublicschools.ca/parentresources.

Safety remains our priority. As our province's response to the pandemic evolves, this may impact our work. We will continue to provide division updates on our website www.saskatoonpublicschools.ca/covid19. This page can be accessed from all school websites. Individuals who may have concerns about their health can call the provincial HealthLine at 811 or use the self-assessment tool to determine next steps. Information and updates regarding COVID-19 are available on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus.

Let's continue to look out for each other and protect our community. Please stay safe and well.

Sincerely,

Barry MacDougall, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools

(This information was sent to parents and guardians of Saskatoon Public Schools students)

Update March 25, 2020​ —

As part of school closures, Saskatoon Public Schools is asking students and parents to not use playground equipment  in order to protect their health and the health of the community.

The City of Saskatoon has also closed all playgrounds effective Thursday, March 25.

The action is being taken because the surfaces people touch — especially playground equipment — should not be used for the health and safety of children and families.

The COVID-19 virus can linger on plastic and metal for several days and could potentially be transmitted by playing in school playgrounds and touching playground equipment that others have touched, including slides, swings, teeter-totters, jungle gyms and other equipment.

Playground equipment is not being cleaned while our schools are closed and may pose a health risk to anyone that uses them. Parents and caregivers are asked to stop children from using playground equipment until further notice.

The inability for children and youth to gather and play in groups is among the most challenging aspects as part of the social distancing requirements being ordered by public health officials. We know our school families and communities can help young people find other ways to play, exercise and learn.

The City of Saskatoon has enacted additional social distancing guidelines for public spaces:

  • Playgrounds are closed effective March 25;
  • Sports fields should not be used for organized sports or play;
  • Do not play games, sports and activities, like soccer and shiny hockey, that put you in close contact with others;
  • Dog park visitors are reminded of social distancing and these areas will be posted with health safety messages. 

Spaces including trails, dog parks, public squares and areas around civic buildings remain open, however people are encouraged to go on outings by them self or with just one other person at the appropriate distance. More information is available on the City of Saskatoon website

Update March 23, 2020​ —

Saskatchewan has an Education Response Planning Team, consisting of officials from the Ministry of Education, Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, Saskatchewan School Boards Association, the Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials and the Saskatchewan League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents, that is meeting daily to support the education system in our response to COVID-19.

For provincial updates and messaging regarding response to COVID-19 please continue to monitor Saskatchewan.ca. The full letter from the Response Planning Team can be read in PDF format here.

The Response Planning Team would like to share the following with families:

  • First, thank you to students, parents and caregivers for your understanding during these extraordinary times. We appreciate your patience and your flexibility. We are working hard to address the needs of students, staff and school communities as schools close starting today, March 20.
  • The closure is considered indefinite. How long schools are closed and classes are suspended will depend on decisions made by Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer.
  • For the upcoming week, we feel it is most important for school staff to pause, enact social distancing and focus on caring for themselves and their families. More information will be coming from school divisions about the next steps. Essential services, such as maintaining our buildings, will continue during this pause.
  • Premier Scott Moe and Education Minster Gordon Wyant have committed that students will progress to the next grade or class and those who are eligible to graduate will do so.
  • As has been stated, we are committed to ensuring that supplementary educational opportunities will be provided for students. Further information on this will be forthcoming.
  • We know there are many questions about the details and the Response Planning Team is actively working on this. We are committed to supporting students.
  • Education staff are continuing to be employed and paid, as they normally would be.
  • The Response Planning Team is continuing to provide updates and information to School Divisions. School Divisions will continue to provide information to students and parents as it is available.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding. The Response and Planning Team

Update March 19, 2020​ —

Schools are a gathering place for our community, so it is hard to comprehend our new reality of quiet classrooms and darkened hallways. However, our role serving the community is more important than ever. Our focus has shifted from educating our most precious community members to stopping operations so we can protect them and our staff members.   

The Ministry of Education has directed all schools to pause educational operations Friday, March 20, through Friday, March 27. This measure is being taken to protect our school staff and keep them safe at home. This pause will be treated like a school break – school offices are closed, and teachers will respond to inquiries when this operational pause has concluded. After that, while classes will still be cancelled, our staff will work to answer your questions and provide guidance on supporting students.

We are awaiting direction from the Ministry of Education regarding a supplemental curriculum program for students. For now, our division staff has created an educational resource page for elementary school families that provides numerous links to academic sites appropriate for each grade level. We are working on a plan to provide equitable access to technology for students who may need it. After the operational pause, we will provide more information to families about this.

We are aware that the closure of our schools will impact students who rely on us for nutritious meals. We are working with our community partners to address food security for our students and families. We have attached a list of community agencies that families can access for food services and support.  

We will continue to provide division updates on our website www.saskatoonpublicschools.ca/covid19. This page can be accessed from all school websites. Individuals who may have concerns about their health can call the provincial HealthLine at 811 or use the self-assessment tool to determine next steps. Information and updates regarding COVID-19 are available on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus

We know you have many questions. Our school division is continuing to work through the details with the Ministry of Education and pass along direction to our teachers and administrators. These are unprecedented circumstances we are working through and we want to ensure we are doing what is best for all students. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

For now, please take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Sincerely,
Barry MacDougall, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools  


Update March 17, 2020​ —

As classes wind down ahead of the suspension of all prekindergarten to Grade 12  classes that takes effect on Friday, March 20, it's important for parents and guardians to ensure that schools have accurate phone and email contacts.

Schools will need up-to-date contacts in order to keep families informed in the coming days. If your family's information may not be complete or correct, please contact your school as soon as possible.

Schools will have provided parents with information about how each school is dealing with such things as:

  • how progress reports (report cards) will be delivered to parents;
  • the pickup of student belongings, if required;
  • the return of textbooks, library books, and band instruments.

Schools will remain open to students until the end of the school day on Thursday. However, parents are encouraged to keep students at home if at all possible. If you have questions, please contact your school for information.

The Government of Saskatchewan issued a news release on the formation of a Response Planning Team to work through the logistics of school closures. Read the news release HERE.

Update March 16, 2020​ —

Earlier today, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that all classes in Saskatchewan from prekindergarten to Grade 12 will be suspended indefinitely, effective Friday, March 20, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The school closures will reduce further spread of the illness.

Read the government's full news release HERE.

From now through Thursday, March 19, classes will wind down. During this time, parents who can keep children home should do so immediately, with no absence or grade impacts. Parents with limited childcare options have until Friday to make arrangements. Students who attend for the next few days have a low risk of exposure to COVID-19. There will be no classes starting Friday.

If you will be keeping your child home the rest of the week, please report your child's absence using the normal process. This will help us plan for staffing in our schools for the next three days.

As per Ministry of Education guidelines, every student will receive a final grade based on their current grade, and students will progress to their next grade level next year. Further information will be provided. Every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. Plans for graduation ceremonies will be determined later. Planning is underway to provide supplemental curriculum supports for students to assist with skill development and continued learning.

As always, if your child is sick, please keep your child home from school. If a parent or caregiver is experiencing any symptoms, please keep your child home and away from school. Individuals who may have concerns about their health can call the provincial HealthLine at 811 or use the self-assessment tool to determine next steps. Information and updates regarding COVID-19 are available on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus.

Parents play a significant role in helping children feel safe during times of rapid change and uncertainty. It is important to focus on what can be done to support social and emotional wellness. Below are some suggestions for parents to support children:

  • Take care of yourself – Continue to engage in healthy, positive activities that you enjoy. Healthy adults create healthy children.
  • Model calm and be reassuring to your children – Let your children talk about their feelings, fears, and questions. Responding calmly will positively influence your child's emotional responses.
  • Maintain normal routines to the extent possible – Maintaining routines provides a sense of comfort and reassurance. Seek out and maintain fun activities as a family. A few examples include crafting, baking, board games, reading, movie nights, and enjoying outdoor activities together.
  • Monitor and limit media/social media exposure – Excessive exposure is linked to an increase in anxiety and worry.  Limit your own exposure to reliable sources.
  • Share factual and age-appropriate information with your children – Consider both the age and individual characteristics of your child when determining how much to share. Emphasize actions that you can do to limit risk, such as following recommended hygiene practices.

Many resources exist to support you and your child.  Below are some websites you may find helpful

 Tips for managing anxiety about COVID-19:

Talking to your children about COVID-19:

We know you have questions. Please allow our teachers and administrators time to work through the details of this closure. Your school will provide you with pertinent information as planning is completed.

This has been a tumultuous time for families, for our schools, and for our community. Thank you for your understanding while we work through this unprecedented situation.

(This information is being sent to all parents and guardians of Saskatoon Public Schools students)


Update March 16, 2020, 10:30 a.m.​ —

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced all classes in Saskatchewan prekindergarten to Grade 12 schools will be suspended indefinitely, effective March 20, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For the period of March 16 to March 19, prekindergarten to Grade 12 classes will wind down. However, parents who are able to keep children home should do so immediately, with no absence or grade impacts.  Parents with limited childcare options will have a window to plan for class suspensions. 

Saskatoon Public Schools' parents and guardians will receive information from their schools by the end of the day on Monday. Read the government news release.

Saskatoon Public Schools has put in place the following guidelines in response to COVID-19. 

  1. If a student returned to Canada since Friday, March 13, they must self-isolate for 14 days before attending school.
  2. If a parent is self-isolating, the student(s) should be kept home and not attend school during the 14-day period.
  3. As per the Chief Medical Health Officer, if a student is in class and is displaying symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing), the school will contact the student's parent/caregiver and have them pick up the student ASAP. The student will be isolated from others until they are picked up.
  4. Anyone returning home from anywhere within Canada must self-monitor. If they are showing no symptoms, they can return to school. If they are showing symptoms, they must self-isolate and contact Healthline at 811 or can use the self-assessment tool to determine next steps. 

Update March 15, 2020​

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that schools will stay open for now. For more information, please click on the link to view the news release. https://bit.ly/33lZdzN

Any closure of schools would be done at the direction of the local Medical Health Officer or Chief Medical Health Officer. 

Update March 13, 2020​ —

Saskatoon Public Schools is undertaking several temporary operational changes in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  

As part of these changes, all schools will be conducting scheduled parent-teacher/three-way conferences by telephone. This opportunity to connect with your child's teacher is valuable and provides an important update on your child's learning journey. We do not want to postpone this opportunity to connect, but we feel the safest option is to conduct these conversations by phone. Conferences will still be held at each school's previously scheduled days and times.

If you have already scheduled a time for your child's conference, your child's teacher will call you at that assigned time and the meeting will be the same length. 

If you haven't signed up for an appointment, please visit our PTI scheduler to set a time to speak to your child's teacher.  If you have questions, please contact your school.  

Other changes to division operating practices and schedules are:

  • Rentals at the division's schools and division facilities have been cancelled effective immediately for the period up to and including April 19, 2020.
  • Scheduled open house/information nights for the following unique programs have been cancelled. New dates will be provided if rescheduled. Applications are still being accepted for the 2020-21 school year. Visit our website HERE for more information about each program.
    • ScienceTrek at Montgomery School
    • iGen at Sherbrooke Community Centre
    • Creative Action at North Park Wilson School
    • Let's Lead—Nīkānētān at Westmount Community School
    • Media School at Evan Hardy Collegiate
    • High School Carpentry Apprenticeship Program (HCAP) at Mount Royal Collegiate
    • Outdoor School at Walter Murray Collegiate.

Update March 12, 2020​ —

At Saskatoon Public Schools, the safety of students and staff members is the first priority. With confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Saskatchewan, the school division will be adapting practices to focus on preventing spread of the illness. 

The following temporary operational changes will be effective immediately in all our schools and division facilities:

  • Cancellation of field trips; 
  • Cancellation of guest speakers external presentations, and tours;
  • Cancellation of large gatherings (such as pep rallies and assemblies); and,
  • Cancellation of unique programs open house/information nights.

Procedures for parent-teacher conferences are under review.

As always, if your child is sick, please keep your child home from school. If a parent or caregiver is experiencing any symptoms, please do not come to the school. Make separate arrangements for drop off/pick up at school.

  • Practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette (into the bend of your elbow);
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick; 
  • Avoid hugging, kissing, shaking hands and high-fiving; and,
  • Don't share water bottles, band instruments, eating utensils, personal electronic devices, ear pods, or food.

Individuals who may have concerns about their health can call the provincial HealthLine at 811 for advice and support. Information and updates regarding COVID-19 are available on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus

We will keep families updated on any further changes to our school operations. Please contact your school if you have questions.

Stop Germs poster JPG.jpg

Update March 11, 2020​ —

​At Saskatoon Public Schools, the safety of students and staff members is the first priority. With the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak a pandemic, these are the measures the school division has in place to address this public health situation.

Saskatoon Public Schools take its direction from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and division staff have received regular updates on the situation. As of today (March 11), there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan and public health officials state the risk remains low. 

The school division has a pandemic response plan and has already taken preventative measures. Caretaking staff were previously directed to prioritize sanitization in all schools. Focus is being given to sanitizing push-pull points and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, water fountain buttons, desks, countertops, sinks, and taps.

Schools have been asked to review hygiene practices with students and have shared posters highlighting proper hand washing for posting in all bathrooms. These posters and other hygiene information can be accessed at www.germsmart.ca.

Parents and guardians are being asked to review the following hygiene practices with children:

  • Practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette (into the bend of your elbow);
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick; and,
  • Don't share water bottles, band instruments, eating utensils, electronic devices, ear pods or food.

As always, if a child is sick, parents and guardians are asked to keep the child home from school. Individuals who may have concerns about their health can call the provincial HealthLine at 811 for advice and support. Information and updates regarding COVID-19 are available on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus

Parents and guardians are asked to contact their school if they have questions.