In the fall of 2021, at the request of Alberta Education and Alberta Health, Battle River School Division implemented a series of temporary restrictions, (Administrative Procedure 451) including the requirement that staff and visitors to schools be asked to provide proof of COVID vaccination or negative COVID test results.
On February 9, the Province of Alberta cancelled its Restriction Exemption Program. As a result, the temporary restrictions also ended in the school division.
At its meeting on February 10, the BRSD Board of Trustees passed a motion in support of the decision to repeal Administrative Procedure 451 and all associated measures related to proof of vaccination or negative test result.
The Board also heard that, as directed by the Province, students in BRSD schools will no longer be required to wear masks, effective February 14. Students are welcome to wear masks if they choose, but it is not mandated.
Adults in schools, including visitors and spectators at events, are still required to wear masks until the next phase of provincial restrictions lift. That is expected in March.
There are also some circumstances in which students recovering from a COVID infection may be required to wear a mask for a few days when they return to school. That criteria is outlined in the Daily Checklist, which remains in effect until further notice.
The Board also heard that absence rates at schools have been higher than usual throughout this school year. While the school division does not know the reason for every individual absence, they are aware that, in January, all 19 community schools in the division received parent reports of students who had tested positive for COVID. Several schools experienced student absence rates of more than 20% and nine different classrooms were switched to remote learning due to high absence rates and the associated staffing challenges.
At the time of the Board meeting, on February 10, the division had seen a reduction in absence rates, from a division-wide absence rate average of 18% down to 12%.
The school division hopes that this COVID wave is past the peak and absences will continue to decline. But they continue to have the flexibility to move groups of students to remote learning temporarily if needed.
Each year the Alberta School Boards Association offers the Edwin Parr Award, which recognizes outstanding first year teachers across the province.
On February 10, the BRSD Board of Trustees approved the nomination of first-year teacher Marina Tronsgard, who is teaching Grade 1 at New Norway School, for the Edwin Parr Award. Ms. Tronsgard’s nomination will be presented to the ASBA for consideration and this year’s successful candidate from the Central Zone will be announced in May. Good luck!
Each year Alberta Infrastructure reviews and updates the utilization rates for schools, based on a formula that includes student populations, student needs, common spaces in school buildings and more. In Battle River School Division, the utilization rate of schools varies from 38% to 80%.
The updated report is posted on the BRSD website at brsd.ab.ca
Supporting School Councils
The BRSD Board of Trustees is hosting three workshops to support School Councils in developing their skills and knowledge. The workshops include: Purpose of School Councils, Tools for an Effective School Council; and the School Council / Board Relationship. These workshops will take place over a period of three months this spring.
During this time of restrictions on public gatherings, the BRSD Board of Trustees meetings are livestreamed. You will find the link for each meeting posted on the BRSD website (brsd.ab.ca) and shared on social media platforms the day prior to the meeting. Meetings generally begin at 9:30 a.m.
The Board has received requests to have recordings of their meetings available for viewing. These requests are being reviewed and will be discussed at the March Board meeting.