Covid-19 Update For Families December 6

Covid-19 Update for Families December 6
Posted on 12/06/2021

Dear families,

The past few weeks have been a stark reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Some schools have been significantly and directly impacted by positive cases over the past several weeks. We also recognize the upheaval that cases have on students and families in these schools. In the first three months of this school year, we have experienced more than double the cases in schools during 2020-2021. The majority of these cases have occurred at the elementary level, particularly among Kindergarten to Grade 6 students who, until recently, could not be vaccinated. KFL&A Public Health has been clear that most spread is occurring outside of school in the community, and within households or close contacts which is then introduced to schools. Certainly, there is some spread occurring within schools, and we continue to enforce mitigating strategies such as frequent hand hygiene, mandatory masking, physical distancing where possible, and increased ventilation to reduce the spread at school. We continue to work very closely with Public Health daily to review and amend protocols as required.

To help prevent cases in schools, Public Health amended its school screening requirements for school-aged children and youth in our region as well as staff and visitors. There was a bit of confusion regarding testing to return to school. Public Health has recently added greater clarity to the screening tool and directions for families should their student become symptomatic at school. We ask all families to be vigilant in following these directions. Additional Public Health communication and direction for the KFL&A region related to COVID-19 can be found on its website.

Public health authorities continue to say that the greatest protection against COVID-19 is vaccination. Students aged 5 to 11 are also now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Public Health has scheduled several vaccination clinics, including some in our schools, to provide greater accessibility to the vaccine. Please visit the Public Health website for clinic dates and locations and some frequently asked questions.

Limestone has recently received a shipment of take-home PCR self-collection and rapid antigen test kits to support greater accessibility to COVID-19 testing. The PCR self-collection testing option is intended for students who are symptomatic at school, or students and staff who identified as being part of an asymptomatic close contact cohort that has been exposed to COVID-19. We have a limited supply of these PCR tests kits, and Public Health will assist the board in determining when these should be distributed. We are seeking more PCR test kits to deploy to the system. Separately, we will be providing every student with five rapid test kits before the December break. These are intended to be used by students before holiday gatherings and prior to returning to school in January. Information sheets will accompany all test kits.

Finally, the Ministry of Education has provided the option for school boards to resume a regular secondary school timetabling model of four courses a day starting in February 2022. To help us plan best, we are asking secondary students, families and staff for their feedback on Limestone’s model for February to June 2022. If you haven’t already responded, please complete the short survey before the end of day tomorrow, Dec. 7, 2021.

We appreciate your ongoing patience and support as we work quickly to follow, and communicate, Public Health direction to keep everyone in our schools and community safe and healthy.

Krishna Burra
Director of Education