Star FM sent in a list of
frequently asked questions they have been receiving from their listeners, in
regards to the upcoming school year. Below is the list of questions along with answers
that will hopefully help everyone as we all navigate through the upcoming
Answers to Star FM Questions from Parents/Guardians
Frequently asked Questions and Answers
for Brandon School Division
Will students, teachers and staff be required to wear a mask at school or on the bus?
Non-medical masks are mandatory for students (Grade 4 and up), teachers, staff, visitors and volunteers in areas where physical distancing of two meters is not possible.
Students under Grade 4 can also use non-medical masks.
All school bus passengers in Grade 4 and older, and the driver, are required to wear a non-medical mask. These should be put on before loading and taken off after offloading if removal is appropriate for the setting. Students under Grade 4 can also use non-medical masks.
Will there be screening for students before they enter the school?
Students must be in good health to attend school. Before leaving for school parents/guardians are to use the Manitoba Health COVID-19 Screening Tool using the following guidelines:
- If a student shows any COVID-19 symptoms they should remain at home.
- If a person in the household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, or if anyone in the household has travelled outside Manitoba in the previous 14 days (outside of areas excluded by public health orders, which currently exclude locations in Western Canada, the territories, and Ontario west of Terrace Bay).
- regions outside of the province, they are required to consult with Health Links and may be required to self-isolate prior to attending school.
- NO COVID-19 related screening (including physical examination, temperature taking, etc.) is to be conducted by employees of the School Division on students, staff, or visitors entering a public school facility.
Staff may be required to assist a student with self-screening if the child requests it or discloses that the parent/guardian was not able to conduct a screening that day. Otherwise, staff are not to screen any students.
Does my child have to go to school?
- School attendance is mandatory for children aged 7 to 18 in Manitoba. All students are expected to participate fully in learning, even when remote learning is required.
- Manitoba Education has recommended 100% in-class learning for Kindergarten – Grade 8 with a maximum cohort size of 75. As cohorts are not possible in Grade 9-12, these students are recommended to attend using a 50% in-class and 50% remote learning model.
- Division-level remote learning will be in place for students who have been medically advised not to return to in-class learning due to COVID related risk factors.
If they stay home because they feel sick how are they going to get their assignments?
- Classroom teachers will support the development and provision of at-home learning packages for students who are isolating or quarantined.
If parents are uncomfortable with the risk of having their kids attend in classroom, do they have the option of asking for virtual learning opportunities or extra tutoring resources?
- The safety, health and wellbeing for all students, staff and families has been a guiding principle in our planning.
- Optional virtual learning is not an option. Public health has determined that it is safe to resume in-class learning while following public health guidance for screening, enhanced hand hygiene, physical distancing, the use of cohorts and outbreak management, which is paramount in keeping as many students as possible in schools this fall and throughout the pandemic. Division-level remote learning will be in place for students who are medically advised not to return to in-class learning due to COVID related risk factors.
- School staff and administrators will continue to support students in their return to in class learning. Mental health and well-being is critical to returning to in-class learning plans. Regular check-ins and informal assessments will play an important role in supporting transitions.
Is there going to be recess?
- Yes. Lunch and recess breaks will be staggered.
What happens if a child in their class tests positive? Will we be notified as parents?
- In the event of the confirmation of a case of COVID-19 connected with a school, public health will lead the response and ensure appropriate supports are in place to coordinate the response. Contact tracing involves identifying the contacts of a positive case and contacting those individuals who may have been exposed.
Will my school shut down if there is a positive case identified in the school?
Decisions about school closures will be made on a case-by-case basis with public health leading the response and providing guidance, including ensuring appropriate supports are in place to coordinate the response.
Public health will advise staff and students if they have been in close contact, if they need to self-isolate or self-monitor and when they can return to school.
Will my child not be allowed back into school for 14 days if another student tests positive in their class?
- There is no single answer to this question. Public health will take the circumstances of the individual situation into consideration and provide direction on a case-by-case basis. Public health will assess the amount of contact and risk of transmission to inform these decisions.
Will there be provincial exams?
- Grade 12 provincial tests are scheduled to proceed as normal. Schools will be notified if the public health situation warrants a change to the provincial tests. In the event of cancellation, other forms of assessment will be used to determine students' marks.
Are visitors and volunteers allowed to be in schools?
- Schools will minimize visitors and volunteers at school facilities. When their presence is necessary, visitors and volunteers must first self-screen and adhere to physical distancing, hygiene practices and masks requirements in place for students and staff. Community use of schools will be suspended, except for childcare centres operating in schools.
Will there be sharing of books in the library?
Will my child be at school 5 days a week?
- While we are in the Level 1(Yellow): In-class Learning response level, children in Kindergarten through Grade 8, and students with special needs will be in-class full days, 5 days per week. The use of cohorts at the K-8 level will meet all physical distancing requirements.
- Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School, Ecole secondaire Neelin high School, and Vincent Massy High School will use an odd-even 50% in class/50% remote schedule within our 6-day cycle. Attendance will be decided by legal last name (A-K-odd, L-Z-even) which roughly divides the class by half and aligns schedules where children are in multiple buildings (i.e. older siblings who can provide supervision for younger siblings).
Will additional cleaning and sanitization be implemented?
- Increased frequency of cleaning and sanitization, particularly high-touch surfaces and common/shared areas, will occur.
- Commonly touched surfaces will be disinfected at least twice daily.
- Ample hand cleaning supplies will be available at all sinks in washroom and kitchen areas.
- Sanitizer stations will be set up at all entrances.
- Sanitizer will be placed in all classrooms.
How far apart will children be sitting from other students at school?
- Two metres of physical distancing is the public health recommendation. When this is not possible, students will remain within cohorts to reduce exposure to others. Cohorts will distance themselves from other groups to limit exposure. In these instances, there must be at least 1 meter between students as they sit at their desks. A large majority of our schools at the K – 8 will use cohorts.
How will my child get to school?
On August 13, 2020, the Province of Manitoba provided a revised guideline for transportation to school divisions. Under these guidelines our school buses cannot operate at 100 % capacity due to physical distancing requirements.
Due to these guidelines we are prioritizing the following students for transportation.
- All students living outside the City of Brandon boundaries (rural) will continue to receive school bus transportation.
- All students with special needs within the City of Brandon boundaries will continue to receive school bus transportation.
- All students that attend Alexander School and O'Kelly School will continue to receive school bus transportation.
- The Division is suspending school bus transportation within the City of Brandon for grades 9-12 students.
- Currently, the Division is continuing to determine school bus capacity for Kindergarten-Grade 8 students within the City of Brandon. Part of this review process will include the addition of five buses. Once details are finalized they will be communicated to the community.
Will there be band and choir at the high school level?
- Band and choir will be suspended for now in Brandon School Division High Schools.
- Music will be offered in K-8 schools, but only if public health protocals can be maintained.
Will the Industrial Arts Program occur for grade 7 and 8 students?
Industrial Arts Programs will be suspended at this point in BSD Schools.
Will extracurricular sports programs like volleyball, football, hockey etc. occur this school year?
- The division is waiting for further guidance from various sports organizations, MHSAA, Department of Education and the Public Health Officer.