Parent Peek at the Week
Preparing for School - August 26, 2020
We missed you!!!!
We have so missed seeing you and can't wait to reconnect with you again in just a few short weeks. Administration and staff are greatly looking forward to welcoming students back to school, and fully understand and respect whichever choice your family has made regarding face-to-face or online learning for your child/children. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch - with questions, notes of support and information to share. We recognize what a very challenging time this is and how little information is available. There is no doubt that things continue to evolve and change. However, what we do know is that our amazing Kawartha Heights team is committed to doing all within our power for a safe, healthy and happy start up! This first "Parent Peek at the Week" will provide you with some basic information that is available right now. As more questions are answered, I'll continue to communicate with you.
Things will look a little different when our students return this week (yes, that is a picture of me in my "new look"!). Please watch for more information in upcoming newsletters as we post pictures and explanations of the changes for you to be able to refer to at home.
Until next time - stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive. As a Kawartha Heights community, we've got this!
Where are we at?!
Over the last few weeks, over 50 Kawartha Heights students have registered for online learning. In addition, we have had fewer new enrollments in Year 1 Kindergarten than previous years. These two pieces together have meant that we are decreasing the number of classes at our school from 12 to 9, and 3.5 teaching staff will be moving to the online school.
Normally, we begin an organizational process in March that takes us through to the end of June. This process includes determining our classes (how many of each grade, etc.), moving and hiring teachers, ECE's and support staff to work with our kids, creating class lists, creating class schedules, etc. Since we only just received numbers for our school last week, we are now trying to complete the full process in a little over a week!
I do need to let you know that due to the decrease in the number of classes, many teachers are teaching new grades and many, if not most, of our students will also be shifted. The information you were given at the end of June regarding your child's teacher for September will now be out of date. As soon as we have current classes reorganized, we will do our best to share with you the name of your child's teacher.
CLASSROOM AND SCHOOL SET UP
Many of you have been asking great questions about what classrooms and our school will look like this fall. We hope to be able to share some pictures in our newsletter next week. For now, I can tell you that:
- each child will stay in a cohort with their class; each child will not have contact with more than 50 other children (equivalent of 2 classes)
- hallways will have arrows that designate the direction for walking and flow of traffic
- we will only use water bottle filling stations, no water fountains will be in use (please have your child bring a water bottle to school daily)
- classrooms will have minimal furniture; our goal is to have as close to 1m distance between each child when in class. In order to accomplish this, we will need to remove much of the extra furniture you might have seen in the past
- students will keep their personal belongings in their desk area. We ask that you please minimize what is sent between home and school. Communication will be online through Edsby this year, rather than in pouches or through agendas.
- we will have staggered lunches and recesses to minimize the number of students who are congregating in one area, such as the halls or yard, at one time.
This week, KPR announced that we will have a staggered entry to the school year. The details are as follows:
September 8th - 11th: Staff will prepare for, and become familiar with, new pandemic-related school practices, such as rearranging their classrooms, moving furniture, realigning class sizes, and adjusting timetables. Online learning staff will be doing the same thing (just in a different way!)
September 14th and 16th: Half the students will attend school to begin to learn our new procedures in a smaller group environment.
September 15th and 17th: The other half of the students will attend school to begin to learn our new procedures in a smaller group environment.
September 18th: All students attend school.
NOTE: Your child's staggered start dates will be communicated to you directly, closer to the dates of entry.
As you can imagine, finalizing planning for the smooth, safe and healthy return of our students and staff in a pandemic is a complex task with many interrelated factors. This is particularly true given the constantly changing environment that COVID-19 has brought about.
We fully understand and appreciate the frustration of parents. We have been doing our best to plan for a safe return to school, given the fluid nature of this situation, and evolving guidelines from the Ministry of Education and Public Health.
We do appreciate that many families have to make new arrangements, such as changing child care plans, to accommodate the change in staggered entry. We also know this change is disappointing to many families and students who are eager to get back to school with their friends. The reality, however, is that we need to take the time to get this right from the start.
Again, we appreciate that this is a hardship for parents and our students, and we apologize for the inconvenience.
To that end, on August 31st we will be contacting families that we know may benefit from this extra support, to plan for specific appointments to come visit the school. Visits will take place between September 1st and 11th. We are already aware of many of our students who might benefit from this opportunity. However, if you think we've missed you, or that we're not aware that your child is really struggling around the transition back to school, please get in touch with me at your earliest convenience (firstname.lastname@example.org). We ask that families recognize that we only have limited spots for transition appointments before school begins - as much as we'd like to see everyone, this just won't be possible!
If you come for a transition meeting, please be aware that:
- only 2 adults may attend with their child (no siblings please)
- meetings will be scheduled at intervals to avoid groups meeting in the hallways/classrooms
- you will sign-in for contact tracing
- all who enter must wear a mask at all times; please let me know directly if this will be an issue
- we must practice physical distancing with staff at all times
- we will use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting the school
Parents/guardians reminded to ensure their children have required vaccines for school
As schools prepare to reopen, Peterborough Public Health is asking parents and guardians to ensure their child is up to date on all required vaccines. To catch up on any missed vaccinations, just book an appointment with your healthcare provider before school starts. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can contact Peterborough Public Health to book an appointment in our Immunization Clinic at 705-743-1000, ext. 129.
By making sure student immunization records are complete, you can avoid school suspensions. Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, students under the age of 18 must provide proof of up-to-date immunizations. Often the student’s immunizations are up to date, and it’s just the student’s record that needs to be updated. This can be accomplished by calling 705-743-1000, ext. 139, asking your healthcare providers to fax immunization information to Peterborough Public Health, or submitting updates online via the secure portal found at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca and searching for “update your child’s record”. With all the uncertainty and fear that COVID-19 has created, ensuring that your child is up to date with their vaccines is one less thing to worry about!
Supporting the Return to School
We have always appreciated the strong partnerships we have between home and school and this is true even now more than ever! In preparation for the coming school year, please feel free to click on the following link which is a helpful resource prepared between the collaboration of family physician and educator: Preparing to return to school.