Back to School Communication 2020-2021

August 31, 2020

 

Dear SQMS Parents;

We at South Queens Middle School hope you and your family are enjoying a safe summer. School is back in session on September 8, and after almost 6 months apart, we are excited to welcome you back. With COVID-19 rates at low levels, students will return to school following the full opening model outlined in Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan. To learn more about the plan, please visit www.novascotia.ca/backtoschool.

We know you have a lot of questions. We do not have all the answers yet, and the answers we give now may change depending on the health of Nova Scotians. If conditions change, our approach will change, including a possible move to either a blended learning model or at-home learning model. The direction to move to a different learning model will be given by Public Health as they assess COVID-19. Should this happen, we will let you know as soon as possible.

As you may have already heard, there are some key changes coming to school in September.

Please rest assured our teachers will communicate safety protocols to students on September 8th, and these protocols will be regularly reviewed and updated.

Please note the following protocols and review with your child(ren):

 

  • Students should not be dropped off before 8:05 am unless they can wait outside where they can physically distance from others.  Students WILL NOT be able to congregate in the lobby of the school before the first bell goes.

 

  • Schools will limit outside visitors, including parents/guardians. Drop offs and pickups will be done outside, and people will not be allowed to congregate in groups outside the school, as per the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Schools (see Appendix A). Use of schools after hours by other organizations will be limited.

 

  • Students will be staying in Homeroom Bubbles (Cohorts) all day including recess and lunch breaks. By keeping students in the same group and limiting interaction between groups, schools can significantly reduce exposure should there be a case in the school.  Teachers will be travelling to students to teach their subjects.

 

  • Each homeroom cohort will have a designated area outside.  We will be staggering when the students leave the building for recess, lunch and dismissal to ensure students from other cohorts do not come in contact with each other.  Cohorts will use different exits.

 

  • It is an expectation that students come prepared to go outside (i.e. sweaters, proper footwear, etc.).  This is not only for recess and lunch breaks but classes will be held outside as much as possible for many subjects.

 

  • Mask use for all students who ride a school bus will be required. Bus notes will only be allowed for custodial arrangements, day-care, and employment needs. Students will not be accessing different buses for any other purpose. This helps with reducing the risk of viral spread and makes contact tracing easier.

 

  • Our classrooms and hallways are not big enough to ensure physical distancing, so students and staff will be wearing masks for most of the day.

 

  • If your child does not have a mask for the first day of school, there is a mask available for him/her at the school.  Pick up will be Tuesday, September 1- Friday September 4 from 10am-12 noon daily.  If these times do not work for you, please contact us at 902-354-7640

 

  • Schools will be cleaned daily with an enhanced emphasis on disinfecting surfaces and common areas, including classrooms. In addition, high-touch surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day.

 

  • A “no sharing” policy will be in place. Supplies will be provided to those students who do not have them. If sharing of learning equipment or technology is necessary, the equipment must be cleaned between uses.

 

  • Signage will be visible throughout the school as reminders about frequent hand washing and physical distancing when possible.

 

  • Students will be eating in their homerooms and meals will be delivered there. Based on Public Health guidelines, students will not have access to our Cafeteria until further notice, but we are working on a plan for families to be able to pre-order meals with a reduced menu through our Cafeteria.  Each meal will be individually wrapped/packaged for individual students. This includes breakfast programs as well.
  • Unfortunately, the use of microwaves is not allowed.  If bringing a lunch, please ensure students have food that does not need to be heated. 

 

  • Students will not be able to access drinking fountains but we have a filling station at each end of the school. Students are encouraged to bring a filled water bottle every day.  The school board is not providing water cups for students.  At no time are students able to drink from a drinking station without their own bottle.  It is understandable that students aren’t allowed to share water bottles or drinking cups. 

 

  • Students will not have access to lockers, so what your child brings to school stays with them all day and goes home with them each night. Please limit personal items due to space in homerooms. 

 

  • Large gatherings are not permitted in schools this year. This includes concerts, tournaments, assemblies and ceremonies.

 

  • Fundraising events, including dances, have been cancelled until further notice. We are starting to receive information on school sports and this information will be communicated soon.

 

  • Stay Home When Sick

The Nova Scotia guidelines for schools are firm. If a student, staff member or any other adult has any symptoms of a cold, influenza, COVID-19, or any other infectious respiratory disease, they must not enter the school. Please review the COVID checklist (see website and FB page as well as the attachment with this letter) with your child every morning before coming to school.

While these measures will become commonplace in schools across our province, we want to provide you with additional details about what your child’s day will look like for this year.  This information will be coming to you in the next few days and it will be called the “SQMS Return to September Plan 2020-2021”.   

When you receive it, please review this important document as it does highlight significant changes that your family should be aware of for the upcoming school year. We will be sharing more SQMS specific updates before September 8th.

We realize there is a lot of information about new routines and changes. But, there are some things that haven’t changed.

We are still committed to providing the best education and support for your child. Our school will continue to be a welcoming space where we focus on positive relationships between students and staff. When you are talking to your child about coming back to school, please let them know we are excited to see them again. Working together, we can all help students feel safe and supported when they return to school.

Let’s keep the lines of communication open to make this a positive year. Please reach out if you have specific questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Terry and Stacy