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August 4 School Reopening Update

(A message to parents and caregivers from Shane Skjerven, Director of Education, Saskatoon Public Schools)

Today, I am sharing the school division's plan to support the safety and well-being of students, families, and staff members when schools reopen on September 1.

Our decision making for the reopening plan is aligned with the following goals:

  • Protect the health and well-being of students, staff members, and families.
  • Ensure quality educational opportunities and instruction are provided for all students, whether in class or at home.
  • Maintain and strengthen community engagement and connections with students and families.

While this plan provides a great deal of information, we know there are many questions yet to be answered. We are working on a separate reopening handbook for parents/caregivers that we plan to share with you by mid-August. The handbook will provide additional procedures and guidelines, along with answers to specific questions about school operations. Our schools will be sharing school-specific information after offices reopen the week of Aug. 24.

Our reopening plan includes contingency provisions so the school division can continue to adapt and evolve school operations according to the direction of the Chief Medical Health Officer, the provincial Response Planning Team, and the ministries of Health and Education.

I know there is uncertainty about the upcoming school year and I hope the reopening plan and the forthcoming handbooks will provide clarity and ease some of your concerns.

Thank you for your understanding and support as we work to provide safe learning and working environments for students and staff.

Sincerely,

Shane Skjerven, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools

Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)9/8/2020 3:38 PM
August 14 Update Parent Handbook

At Saskatoon Public Schools, we understand that families have many questions about the upcoming school year. As in all our work, safety is our priority as we make plans for the fall. The intent of today's communication is to provide more detailed information for parents and caregivers regarding the plans that have been developed for our schools.

Saskatoon Public Schools has created the Parent and Caregiver Reopening Handbook, which you can view on our website www.saskatoonpublicschools.ca. When our reopening plan was released on Aug. 4, we knew our school families needed more detailed information about safety protocols, in-school and online instruction, daily school operations, student supports, and much more. Our division staff members have been working to figure out all the issues – both big and small – that will impact our student's school experience this fall. The handbook will continually be updated in consultation with local and provincial health officials.  

As is detailed in the handbook, we will be offering k-12 online programming designed and led by teachers through the Online Learning Centre. Online learning is free to all families in the division who choose to register.

A large part of our planning for fall is having appropriate staffing levels to provide instruction both in-class and online. With this in mind, we are asking all school families to complete a Confirmation of Attendance Form. This is not a registration form, but it will provide us with information in order to make important staffing decisions.  Each family will need to decide what is the best learning option for their child(ren) for the fall. We hope the information we have shared in the handbook will help you make an informed decision between in-class and online learning. If you are still undecided, please share that with us through the form. We ask that you read the handbook prior to completing the form. Please complete the form by midnight on Wednesday, August 19.

The handbook provides direction for, and supports the operations of, all elementary schools and collegiates. However, each school will have some details to share that are unique to the school. When school staff return on August 24, they will be working on these plans and school-specific information will be shared prior to the first day of classes on September 1.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we have worked to develop our school reopening plans. I'm incredibly proud of the work our team is doing to create plans that consider the needs of all students and providing necessary supports for staff. We will continue to keep you updated as our response to the pandemic evolves.

Sincerely,
Shane Skjerven, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools


Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)8/17/2020 8:28 AM
August 12 Update Online Learning

Online learning delivered by Saskatoon Public Schools teachers will be available for kindergarten to Grade 12 students during the 2020-21 school year.

The school division is expanding online learning programming to accommodate families seeking an online or at-home learning experience for their student. Programming is developed and delivered by SPS teachers and is available is at no cost to families through Saskatoon Public Schools' Online Learning Centre (OLC).

Registration is open for the 2020-21 school year and families are asked to make a fully informed decision to participate and commit to online learning. Registration and enrolment commitments are critical in order to allocate staffing resources to meet the needs of students. Students need to be prepared for virtual learning and will be expected to engage in daily virtual instruction. 

Registered kindergarten to Grade 9 students will take all required Saskatchewan Curriculum areas of study: English language arts, mathematics, science, social science, health education, arts education and physical education. Students in Grade 10-12 can choose from a selection of more than 40 courses in order to earn a complete high school diploma. Additional courses may be added depending on student registration and interest.

Elementary Program

The elementary program for kindergarten to Grade 8 will offer full-time curriculum options in a fully online method. Students will use Google Classroom and additional technology tools to facilitate learning. Online programming will be provided through both synchronous (teacher online with the students at the same time) and asynchronous (students access course content on their own at any time) delivery models.

The virtual OLC classrooms will be comparable in size and composition to other elementary classes in the division and may include students from a variety of schools.  The exact composition of virtual classrooms will be based on enrolment. 

For kindergarten to Grade 8 registration, families are asked to complete the full-time registration form and to let their local school principal know of their intent to register with the OLC virtual school.

Collegiate Program

Students in Grade 9-12 have an option to register part-time or full-time in the OLC. Full-time students may take up to two classes at a time over five sessions (two months each) for a total of 10 possible classes. Part-time students may take one class at a time and remain enrolled at their home collegiate for a second, in-person class. Programming for high school students is delivered through the Blackboard system.

For Grade 9-12 registration, students may, with the support parents/guardians, register on a part-time or full-time basis. Please inform Student Services at your home collegiate of your intent to register with the OLC virtual school. Students may choose to make an appointment with their collegiate counsellor to discuss their graduation plan prior to registering.  To make an appointment, contact your collegiate. Collegiate counsellors return to schools Aug. 19.

Specialized Programs

French and Cree immersion online programming may be available. If immersion students later choose to return to in-class learning, they would be eligible to return to school-based language immersion programs. All other elementary and collegiate Unique Programs will not be offered in an online format. For single year or partial year unique programs, students who choose online learning will not be able to rejoin the unique program partway through the school year. 

Wait lists will be paused for multi-year programs such as SAGE and Montessori. Families who choose online learning will not lose their spot in the program as this is a temporary vacancy. Wait lists will still be used if there are permanent vacancies, such as a student moving to a different school division or program. 

Students who enrol full time in online learning may be eligible for support services such as English as an Additional Language (EAL) or resource. For students who require EAL or special needs programming, the implications and challenges of delivering an individualized program in an online format should be discussed with the child's support team prior to enrolment. An online learning plan for students with additional and intensive supports will be developed with the online teacher, student support team, and families as required.

In order to support equitable access to online learning, Saskatoon Public Schools can make technology and connectivity available to families, depending on the need and availability of refurbished equipment.  

For more information about the Online Learning Centre visit www.saskatoonpublicschools.ca/onlineschool.


Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)8/13/2020 1:27 PM
June 19, 2020, Update

(A letter to parents and caregivers from Barry MacDougall, Director of Education, Saskatoon Public Schools)

On Thursday, the provincial government announced the health guidelines for returning to in-class learning for prekindergarten to Grade 12 students in September. You can view the guidelines here. They establish expectations for proper hand hygiene practices, limiting physical contact, encouraging physical distancing, limiting shared materials, and increased cleaning and sanitizing. The guidelines may be updated depending on the impact of COVID-19 over the summer and contingency plans will be in place in the event of an elevated risk of transmission, both regionally and provincially. However, we are currently planning for mandatory curricular learning in the fall with all students returning to school full time.

While this announcement provides some guidance for fall, the operating logistics for each school need to be determined. While students finish supplemental learning today, school staff will be working next week, reacclimatizing themselves with their workplace and collaborating on plans for how to make our schools as safe as possible for the return of students on September 1.

Last week, we asked you to complete a survey about your at-home learning experiences and concerns for returning to school in the fall. We received more than 5,300 responses, which is phenomenal. Thank you for taking the time to share this valuable feedback with us. Earlier this month, we surveyed our staff and received a similarly impressive response with nearly 1,000 taking part. The insights and comments we have received from families and staff members will help inform our planning for the fall.

While this year wraps up, work will continue through the summer to ensure we are ready for a return to classes. As we get closer to September, plans for school operations and what your children can expect when they return to school will be shared. Please know that in all our planning, the safety and well being of students and staff members is paramount.

In July, I will be retiring after working for this school division for 32 years. I have been proud to be a part of Saskatoon Public Schools every day of my career, but never more so than the last three months. The professionalism and dedication of our staff has been outstanding. Shane Skjerven, the current deputy director and a champion of students, will be the new director.

This school year has been one for the history books. Thank you for your understanding and support through all the ups and downs. I hope you and your family have a safe and restful summer.

Barry MacDougall, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools

Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)7/13/2020 1:18 PM
June 9, 2020, Update

Today, the provincial government announced that in-class learning for prekindergarten to Grade 12 students will resume at the start of the new school year. This means students are expected to return to our schools on September 1. While a return to the classroom in the fall is expected, there will be contingency plans in place in case of an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission, and in-class learning unable to resume as planned, either regionally or provincially.

This decision made by the provincial government is based on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Health Officer. Since the closure of schools on March 20, all decisions have been made with student, staff, and community health as the priority. This remains the most important aspect of our work as we go forward. The Ministry of Education, with the input of the Education Response Planning Team, is developing public health guidelines for schools with the Chief Medical Health Officer. The guidelines will be shared with school divisions next week.

We know there are many questions about how schools will operate in September. Earlier this month, we surveyed our staff about what we needed to consider as we prepare for the new academic year. Now that we know we will be back in the fall, our school division wants to hear from you. We know that while classes will resume, the daily details of our work have changed. We want to give parents and caregivers an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas with us as we prepare for September. Watch for an invitation to take part in the survey in the coming days.

For now, our supplemental learning program will end on Friday, June 19. While this will be the last day for assignments to be due or lessons to be provided, school staff will continue to be available for conversations and questions the following week. During that final week of the year, staff in our schools will be preparing for the fall and considering changes to the operations of the school to ensure everyone is safe.

The past three months have been a difficult time for all our families. Thank you for your continued support of your teachers and school staff, who worked hard to adapt quickly in order to serve their students as best they could. I’m incredibly proud of the work we have done this year, especially in these last three months. We cannot wait to see students again in September.

Barry MacDougall, Director of Education
Saskatoon Public Schools

Drabble, Rodney J. (Rod)6/9/2020 4:04 PM