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Alberta

Province shares plan for school relaunch

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12 minute read

Adriana LaGrange

From the Province of Alberta

 

Students returning to school for 2020-21 school year

Students will return to learning in classrooms across Alberta at the beginning of the new school year.

Schools will be ready to welcome students under scenario 1, which is near-normal daily operations with health measures.

Alberta’s government has developed a re-entry tool kit to prepare parents and students for what to expect in the new school year. The tool kit includes videos for students explaining some of the health measures, a guide for parents, frequently asked questions, school posters, a self-screening questionnaire in multiple languages, and links to health guidelines.

Alberta continues moving ahead with our recovery and relaunch plan. I’m proud of our comprehensive plan that supports the safe return to daily in-school learning. The return of more than 750,000 students to near-normal learning in the new school year is indicative of Alberta’s continued recovery as we work to relaunch our economy and return to our regular everyday lives.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“We are determined to do everything that we can to safely return our students, teachers and staff to school. I appreciate the input and support of school authorities across the province, as well as our education partners, in developing and refining our school re-entry plan. We are providing clear and detailed guidelines and a re-entry tool kit so everyone can do their part and prepare for a safe return to school.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“We are committed to doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of students, staff and families during the upcoming school year. There is no risk-free approach to COVID-19 but there are also risks to children’s overall health from school closures. We are continually refining our public health advice for schools based on best available evidence. We also have plans in place to respond quickly when cases are identified. Limiting the spread of the virus in schools will require the dedication and support of all Albertans when the school year begins this fall.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Under scenario 1, schools will implement a number of public health measures, which include frequent cleaning of surfaces, placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches. Additional public health measures may be established prior to September on the advice of the chief medical officer of health in consultation with the education system.

In addition, students, staff, parents and school visitors will be expected to use a self-screening questionnaire daily to determine whether they can enter the school.

The Alberta School Boards Association is pleased that this plan was released earlier than expected as it provides more time for finalizing school board plans. We appreciate the various experts, parents and community members that helped inform a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff. ASBA and all school boards will work diligently to implement this plan and look forward to continuing to work with the Minister of Education throughout the upcoming school year.”

Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards Association

“The College of Alberta School Superintendents appreciates the opportunity to work alongside government and education partners to develop a detailed re-entry plan. The CASS board of directors strongly believes that the re-entry plan offers the appropriate balance of guidance from the chief medical officer of health and the government while providing for the authority and autonomy for individual school divisions to assure their students, parents and staff that a successful return to school will be safe.”

Bevan Daverne, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents

“We value the government’s efforts to actively work with the education system, including independent schools, as they finalized details for the 2020-21 school year. Re-entry under scenario 1 gives us the information and confidence we need to prepare our schools for reopening. We appreciate the requirements set out by the government to ensure that student and staff safety remains the priority as we navigate through these times to safely move closer towards a sense of normalcy.”

Simon Williams, president, Association of Independent Schools & Colleges in Alberta

“The health of students and staff is the priority. In our recent survey on re-entry, 86 per cent of parents that participated indicated they were in favour of a return to school plan for K-12 students. Community efforts are essential to ensure a safe learning environment for our children.”

Brandi Rai, president, Alberta School Councils’ Association

“The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools is pleased the government invested the time to engage with the education system as they pragmatically developed the 2020-21 school re-entry plan. This announcement provides Alberta’s public charter schools with the confidence and responsiveness they need to ensure a safe and successful return for the upcoming school year.”

Ron Koper, chair, The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools

Successful transition to summer school and child care

Alberta’s school re-entry plan works, and already has mitigated risks to students and teachers. Throughout the summer, the Calgary Catholic Separate School Division ran in-person summer school programming in accordance to the guidelines developed and issued by the province. These comprehensive guidelines have mitigated risk, resulting in no COVID-19 outbreaks among teachers or students participating in summer school.

Additionally, Alberta has seen a successful reopening of child care centres across the province. Children and staff have safely returned to these centres with no outbreaks occurring.

School authority funding

School authorities have returned to full funding levels as of July 1, and every school authority in Alberta is receiving a funding increase for the 2020-21 school year – roughly $120 million across the province. A list of funding for every school authority is available here.

In addition, the Minister of Education has approved the use of school board reserves, if needed, to help cover local COVID-19-related costs. The total amount of money sitting in school board reserves is $363 million.

Accelerated capital school funding

The province has also provided school boards an additional $250 million to support accelerated capital maintenance and renewal projects, as part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced in the Alberta Recovery Plan.

This funding supports infrastructure enhancements that will help in a COVID-19 learning environment. Seventy-nine school projects totalling $15 million are moving forward with this primary purpose, including upgrades for enhanced hygiene such as hands-free sinks, automatic flush toilets, touchless soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors and water bottle filling stations to replace water fountains.

New online Student Learning Hub

A new Student Learning Hub on new.learnalberta.ca is available for parents, students, and teachers to more easily access educational materials to support development of student literacy and numeracy, and provide health and wellness information.

The online hub is another resource to support Alberta’s school re-entry plan, with recognition that more online learning resources may be needed during the upcoming school year. Additional resources will also be added throughout the school year.

Expanding diploma exams

Diploma exams will be offered in every subject in the November and April exam sessions. Expanding the offerings of the diploma exams will support school authorities who are shifting high school programming to a four-semester system as part of their COVID-19 re-entry plan. This shift allows for better cohorting by limiting the number of classes a student is in during a term without affecting total learning time over the course of a year.

Personal protective equipment

Students and staff may wear a mask if they choose to. However, practices such as physical distancing, cohorting, frequent handwashing, staying home when sick and increased cleaning of surfaces will continue to be the priority public health measures.

COVID-19 cases at school

If a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19, a public health team will investigate to determine when symptoms developed and support the school to minimize transmission.

While each case will be addressed based on its unique circumstances, it is anticipated that in most cases only the group of students and staff who came in close contact will likely be required to stay home for 14 days, and not the entire school population.

Parents will be notified if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at school and public health officials will contact those who were in close contact with that person.

Transitioning to scenario 2 or scenario 3

If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a community or school, health officials will work with Alberta Education and impacted school authorities to make any decision to potentially transition to partial in-class learning or at-home learning. Decisions will be based on multiple factors including the number of cases in a community or school and the risk of ongoing transmission.

The health guidance for scenario 2 has been updated to allow for a maximum of 20 students per class.

 

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Alberta

Active shooting incident in Airdrie – Multiple injuries from BB guns

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From Airdrie RCMP

Airdrie RCMP investigate reports of an active shooter

Airdrie RCMP are currently investigating an incident which has lead to multiple people injured from at least 6 different locations.
At this time it appears that BB guns were used in the “shootings”. One person is in custody and RCMP are looking for the others involved.
RCMP has businesses in a “Shelter in place” in the downtown core. Anyone in the downtown/midtown communities are asked to stay inside.
This is an unfolding situation and more information will be released when it becomes available.
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Alberta

Citrus vs. Cactus: Tampa-Dallas NHL final is duel of former coaching associates

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EDMONTON — It’s not only two American Sunbelt teams facing off Saturday in the NHL’s Stanley Cup final, it’s also a matchup of two head coaches who once worked together, but with the student now trying to outshine the mentor.

Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness was an associate coach for five years with the Tampa Bay Lightning alongside head coach Jon Cooper until leaving in 2018.

Bowness, with five decades of coaching in the NHL, gets a chance to win the Cup for the first time as head man in the final, which will be held in front of no spectators at Rogers Place

But first he has to get by Cooper.

Cooper recalled hiring Bowness when he got the head job in 2013.

“It was about bringing somebody in that knew the league and, honestly, could work a little bit as a mentor for myself, and that’s what I personally wanted. I searched everywhere and was very fortunate to run into Rick Bowness,” Cooper told reporters on a Zoom call Friday.

“I learned so much from him, just about how the league works and how to have success.

“We spent a decade together and we had some pretty good runs, especially the one in 2015, (Tampa lost to Chicago in Stanley Cup final) and Bonsey was a big part of it.”

Cooper said the parting was “amicable” in keeping with the quicksilver nature of the league where coaches come, go, switch, return, retire, and un-retire but added, “I’m probably not sitting here today without a lot of the help of Rick Bowness.”

Bowness vs. Cooper is just one of multiple storylines in this final chapter of the NHL’s surreal season of COVID-19, where, in a matchup of citrus versus cactus, teams from cities that never see snow will do battle in an empty rink on the bald Canadian prairie in September to determine the champion of a traditional winter sport.

Both teams are dealing with some past adversity. The Lightning set records last year racking up 62 wins and the President’s Trophy only to get humiliated by the Columbus Blue Jackets and swept in the first round last season.

Since then, Tampa general manger Julien BriseBois has added some grit to the roster in veterans like Zach Bogosian, Kevin Shattenkirk, Luke Schenn and Pat Maroon while beefing up the second line with Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.

That builds on the core of high flying scorers like Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman, backstopped by Andrei Vasilveskiy in net.

Their best players have been just that this post-season. The top line of Palat, Point and Kucherov has 23 goals and 64 points in 19 games to lead the Lightning past the Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and New York Islanders.

“We’re a different team,” said Hedman.

“We have different bodies in the lineup. We’re a better team, I think.

“Columbus got to us in the playoffs (in 2019), and if you’re not ready it could be an early exit, and that was what happened to us. But I think we put that behind us pretty quickly. We learned from it. We took that experience, and you don’t want to feel that feeling again.”

They have also done it without star captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos underwent core muscle surgery on March 2 and hasn’t played since. He is skating in practice in Edmonton.

“(Stamkos) is still rehabbing. We haven’t ruled him out. I don’t expect him in the lineup (for Game 1),” said BriseBois.

The Dallas franchise which began life as the Minnesota North Stars in 1967, has won it all once — in 1999 — but had not been back to the Stanley Cup final until now.

The Stars had a rough start to this season, winning one of their first nine games, then saw head coach Jim Montgomery summarily fired in December and replaced by Bowness.

Dallas finished 10th in the league standings (37-24-8) when the regular season was halted March 12 due to COVID-19 (Tampa was fourth at 43-21-6).

The Stars and Lightning played each other twice in the regular season, with Dallas winning both times in overtime (3-2 and 4-3)

Dallas’s success starts with goalie Anton Khudobin.

The 34-year-old career journeyman backup has found his stride in the playoffs replacing the injured Ben Bishop. He is 12-6 in 18 starts and saved the team’s bacon in the last round against the Vegas Golden Knights, stopping 153 of 161 shots (.950 save percentage) as Dallas outscored Vegas 9-8 in five games but won the series 4-1.

In the last two rounds, against Colorado and Vegas, the Stars have been outshot to 415 to 338 while the goals have been even, 37 to 37.

Dallas general manager Jim Nill has also added sandpaper and playoff experience to his lineup with veterans Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry.

The offensive punch has come from defenders Miro Heiskanen, just 21, and John Klingberg (eight goals and 32 points combined) and captain Jamie Benn (8 goals, 18 points).

The Stars will need continued heroics out of Khudobin and more production out of first line centre Tyler Seguin if they want to beat the Bolts. Seguin was the team’s top scorer in the regular season (17 goals, 50 points) but in the bubbled playoffs has just 2 goals and 8 points 20 games.

“They (Tampa) are a big offensive threat (up and) down the lineup. Up front they’ve got great players and obviously they have Hedman at the point who doesn’t seem to miss a shot right now,” said Seguin.

“They have an unbelievable goalie. They’re well coached, so we definitely have our hands full.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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