We understand that you may have many questions about what the 2020-2021 school year will look like. We empathize with you and understand this is difficult for parents who want to plan for the beginning of the school year. This is also challenging for us and our staff, who are typically better able to answer questions and provide the information you want and need. For those of you who have had children in our school in previous years, you know that we strive to share as much information with you as soon as possible. We want you to know that we are working hard to bring you answers, and we will continue to share the most up to date information, as soon as it is available to us.
There are many changes, protocols and expectations placed on our school, and the Divisional Plan, although lengthy, is a great resource. It can be found here.
Navigating the 2020-2021 School Year
As well, the Province of Manitoba has created a resource for parents as you prepare your family for a return to school.
Welcoming Our Students Back: Restoring Safe Schools
The following is information that we feel is the most important things for you to know at this time; more details will be sent within a week.
A Few Notes About the Recent Survey
Early this week, all principals in LRSD sent a divisional survey to parents. The feedback from the survey has helped us finalize our school plan. Thanks very much to the many families who have filled out the survey. This data has helped us determine the number of students we should be planning to welcome back to our school.
You will note that the survey mentions both "homeschooling" and later, "remote learning". At this time, we can confirm that LRSD will be offering remote learning for students who have an underlying medical condition (or who have family members with an underlying medical condition). This remote learning will be offered through a new "Virtual School" taught by LRSD teachers (and not your child's "current" teacher).
The last question in the survey referred to remote learning for students who do not necessarily have medical conditions. Please note that this question refers to the fact that the LRSD is attempting to gauge the parental interest in remote learning for their child. That being said, at this current time, LRSD is exploring the possibility, understanding that it is not available to parents without the government's authorization.
As you may have heard, the government has shared that, at this time, if parents aren't comfortable sending their children to school, parents have the option of homeschooling (but not remote learning at this time). We want to ensure parents understand the difference between remote learning and homeschooling:
- Remote learning is similar to what occurred from March – June last year. The remote learning activities would be organized and prepared by teachers and shared with families.
- Homeschooling: This option, currently the alternative offered by the government, is where parents withdraw their child from the school and register for homeschooling. As per the information in the survey, "parents/guardians who choose to home school are responsible for following provincial curricula in all subjects, planning and teaching lessons for their child and gathering learning materials. Schools do not offer assistance."
We await further information related to the possibility of remote learning (for all interested families) and will keep you informed as information becomes available. We realize the timeline is very short and we are truly sorry.
Staggered entry to the school year (for ALL students)
Several weeks ago, it was shared on the divisional plan, that in all our elementary schools, students at all grade levels will begin the year with a staggered entry rather than all students returning on the same day. Although we encouraged parents to read the divisional plan on the website, we realize that some of you may not have had an opportunity to do so.
This staggered entry will give our staff an opportunity to review and practice new safety procedures and protocols with fewer students in the school. You will be notified by email as to which group your child will be a part. (Efforts have been made to see to it that families are members of the same group to ease childcare concerns.)
GROUP A: Tuesday, September 8th and Thursday, September 10:
- These students will not have school on Wednesday the 9th and Friday the 11th.
GROUP B: Wednesday, September 9th and Friday, September 11:
- These students will not have school on Tuesday the 8th and Thursday the 10th.
Starting on Monday September 14, all students are expected to attend and the staggered school days will end.
You will be notified of your family's staggered entry when we send out class placements.
Class Placements and Class Lists
To ensure physical distancing of 2 meters in each of our classrooms, we must create new class lists with fewer students and relocate some classes to rooms that are larger so that we can maintain safer distancing. Student groupings that were made and shared with you in the spring are now being revised.
The results of the survey have given us a greater understanding of who will be returning. We are well into the process of creating our new classes. As you may know, this is a very complicated process and the new groupings will be made with safety as the priority. We will work hard to ensure the best placement for your child (friends, learning style, etc.…) and will consider suggestions that were made in the spring, however, we will not be able to accommodate parental requests at this time.
Parents will receive updated class placements as soon as they are completed.
Opening Day Conferences and Visitors to the School
For a number of years Opening Day Conferences have been a part of LRSD schools' start up plans. Although we value these discussions, the conferences have been cancelled this year to reduce the flow of traffic in and out of our school.
In fact, all access to the school will be controlled. All visitors to the school will need to make an appointment through the office so that proper protocols can be explained before visitors will be allowed.
School Supplies and Fees
General Vanier School, as per Louis Riel School Division protocols, will be purchasing student school supplies for the 2020-2021 school year. These supplies will not be shared as in the past, and each student will be given personal supplies as needed.
An advantage to this process is that all children have access to the exact same materials. Listed below are additional supplies you will be required to purchase for your child.
School Fees will be collected at a later date.
Supply List for All Students:
- Non-marking running shoes (clearly labeled) to be left at school. For younger students, who cannot tie their laces independently please send shoes with Velcro fasteners.
- Two Boxes of tissues.
- Reusable Water Bottle
Supply List for Grade Three and Up:
- Non-medical grade face masks, to be worn when a distance of 2 meters cannot be maintained. (Please provide one each day.)
· Grade 4 to 12 students must wear face masks when riding a school bus.
· We ask that parents do not purchase or rent musical instruments at this time.
· Students will not be required to change for Physical Education.
Other School Opening Details
Below you will find previously shared information as well as some new information related to the provincial and divisional plans that are being included in our school's plan:
- A commitment to maintaining distancing of 2m between students.
- A review and redesign of all usable spaces in our school to provide for this safe distancing. This includes reallocating various spaces as classrooms (The music rooms, library, the gymnasium, and the Multi-Purpose Room)
- Creation of student and teacher cohorts to limit student and staff exposure when they are outside of their classrooms.
- Increased opportunities for students to learn outside, including outdoor Phys Ed classes.
- School supplies were still ordered by the school but in quantities to avoid sharing between students.
- More information about how we will collect funds for school supplies and for student fees will be shared at a later date.
We thank you in advance for your understanding related to the complexity of these tasks that we are needing to organize. Today many of you may have learned that over 200 of our LRSD students needed to be relocated in order to meet the 2 meter minimum distance between students. We have not been affected.
We have been thinking and planning for the reopening of our schools since they closed in March, and we have needed to continually adapt to new expectations and challenges.
You can expect another note within the week with updates and more information about the first few weeks of school.
Thanks again for your patience and understanding as we work to create a learning environment that is safe for all members of our community.
Allie Hassin and Connie Stanley