August 6, 2020

Message to Parents and Caregivers

Dear Sun West School Division Parents and Caregivers,

Though safety for students and staff is not a new concept, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed it to the forefront of our thinking as we prepare for students to return to school.

On June 18, 2020 the Provincial Response Planning Team indicated that education would continue in the fall with all students required to participate and staff required to be physically present in schools.

The Ministry of Education’s Saskatchewan Safe School Plan which was created with guidance from the Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) provides guidelines for the general operation of schools.

The Sun West School Division School Re-Entry Plan was created with input and consideration from students, parents and staff. It is a comprehensive collection of procedures and actions to help guide the way for the safe return to school.

The Ministry’s guidelines have been organized into the following eight sections:

  • Safe Attendance
  • Safe Transportation
  • Safe Access
  • Safe Facilities
  • Safe Classrooms
  • Safe Supports
  • Safe Activities
  • Safe Alternatives

Each section might be better understood as it applies to the different stages of a student’s school day. They are related to a student’s daily experience from breakfast to the bus and from the boot rack to the bookshelf. Every stage along the way has a decision or a direction that will pave the way for their safe passage through the day.

1.Safe Attendance

Each morning the most important decision to be made by parents and caregivers is whether their child is well enough to attend school that day for the sake of their own and the health of others.

2.Safe Transportation

The next decision is how their child will be transported to school. Parents can choose to transport their own children to school or have them transported on a school bus. To assist in the decision, they can be reassured that additional measures will be taken to sanitize the School Division’s bus fleet and designated seating plans will be in place. Important to note is that students will need to be made aware they are expected to follow the new rules or regulations.

3.Safe Access

Students will be made aware of their designated door for entering and leaving the school. Younger students in the past have had designated entrances for the purposes of boots. Now, students in all grades will enter and leave the building in a way that will not compromise the safety of themselves and others.

4.Safe Facilities

Extra resources, and in some cases extra staff will be added to the previous cleaning processes. For example, electrostatic disinfectant sprayers have been purchased to effectively and efficiently disinfect the schools. As well hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment have been purchased to help support the needs at the schools

5.Safe Classrooms

Sun West’s Personalized electronically Blended (PeBL) philosophy and approach to learning, the organization of the instructional day to limit widespread interactions and the inclusion of additional hygiene practices as a portion of the learning will be pillars in the safety of the classroom. Sun West School Division has created the Return to Learn Pathways of learning for each grade. The common re- introduction to learning for students and staff will be reassuring.

6.Safe Supports

Protocols will be in place for the delivery of intensive needs supports and to meet the needs of immune compromised students. If you have a child that is immune compromised, please let your school know for the purpose of preparation when your child returns. Kevin Cameron, a Canadian expert on safe schools and the effects of trauma and learning, has offered universal guidance for schools to address the social and emotional supports children might need during their return to school.

7.Safe Activities

The government’s Re-Open Saskatchewan guidelines will be followed as the schools plan for curricular and extra-curricular activities. The movement through the phases of the re-opening has allowed for an ever-increasing amount of recreation and larger gatherings. We can anticipate that with some restrictions in place and with some creative considerations, students will enjoy activities along with their curricular learning.

8.Safe Alternatives

The Ministry of Education has identified alternatives to the full return to school. Local responses to COVID-19 outbreaks will prevent the need for a province wide suspension of classes.

The information above provides a tangible way to understand the Saskatchewan Safe School Plan. We have identified within our Sun West School Division School Re-Entry Plan, considerations that will need to be different within our schools based on location, size, grade configuration and other factors.

If you would like more information please review the documents that can be found at the links provided or please do not hesitate to contact the Sun West School Division Office at 1 (306) 882 2677.

I am thrilled to be able to work with you and earn your trust as I transition into my new role of Director of Education in Sun West School Division. It is an honour and a privilege to work for you and for the best interests of our students. It will be beneficial for us to work together during the pandemic and for the purpose of increased student achievement.

Yours sincerely,

Randy Emmerson
Director of Education
Sun West School Division