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Inclement Weather Policy Changes
2021-10-14T20:08:43.539Z
Inclement Weather Policy Changes
<h1>Inclement Weather Policy Changes</h1><p>Recently, Prairie Rose Public Schools undertook a review of Inclement Weather policy T201. The review occurred following feedback from many parents and staff who expressed that the current policy was confusing, especially when it came to school closures and extreme cold weather. The policy stated that schools could be closed when the temperature (combined with wind chill) was -40 or lower at 6:00 am. This resulted in several days of school closures and late decisions which caused planning challenges for families.</p><p>As part of the review process, information regarding wind chill information and weather data was collected from the past three years from all regions of the school division. The research revealed the following:</p><p><strong>Wind Chill</strong></p><ul><li>Wind chill does not impact the actual air temperature. The wind chill index was designed to assess the risk of frostbite on unclothed parts of the body.</li><li>When students are riding in a bus, wind chill is an irrelevant factor.</li></ul><p><strong>Cold Weather Days in Prairie Rose</strong></p><ul><li>Over the past three years, there was on average 5.9 days each year that schools were closed due cold weather combined with wind chill.</li><li>On these cold weather days, the temperature frequently warmed over the course of a few hours.</li><li>The majority of the cold weather days occurred in January, February and March which greatly impacted instructional time in the second semester.</li><li>Very few cold weather days resulted in temperatures colder than -35 degrees.</li></ul><p>The findings of the data used for the report can be found here: <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PUA2oti-kBrAf6v16TQ0eOt-28mNZuTb/view?usp=sharing">PRPS Cold Weather Data</a></p><p><i>* Data for the report was taken from </i><a href="http://agriculture.alberta.ca/acis/weather-data-viewer.jsp"><i>Agriculture Alberta</i></a><i>&nbsp;</i></p><p>Based on the findings of the inclement weather review, policy T201 Inclement Weather has been changed to reflect the following:</p><ul><li>Wind chill is no longer going to be calculated into school closure decisions on cold weather days.</li><li>School closures due to temperature will occur when the actual temperature is -36 degrees or colder.</li><li>School bus drivers will continue to have the autonomy to cancel routes based on localized conditions and for safety reasons.</li><li>Schools may still be closed due to poor roads and weather conditions (i.e. blizzards, icy conditions, blowing snow.)</li></ul><p>Link to updated policy: <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1y9loNCVX_fD23-FtlhFOdKaY-j-1xgrU/view?usp=sharing">T201 Inclement Weather</a></p><p>We understand that many families will continue to have concerns about sending their children to school on days of extreme cold weather. Should a cold weather day occur and a school is not closed (based on the above criteria) a parent maintains the right to keep their child home from school. If this is the case, we ask that parents connect with the school and bus driver to communicate this decision.</p><p>It is our hope that the revisions to Inclement Weather policy T201 will ensure a more consistent approach across Prairie Rose Public Schools when cold weather occurs. We will continue to communicate with parents using School Messenger to announce changes to bus routes or school closures. If you have not done so already, <a href="https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BwxYarNhDkXYYzRzTFJ2ZGlpSkU?resourcekey=0-eavDlxC5k-yKNPLxEHQmKQ">we encourage you to opt in to receive text messages</a>, as it remains the most effective means to get information to families in a timely manner.</p>
October 13, 2021 Board Meeting Highlights
2021-10-14T19:56:26.371Z
October 13, 2021 Board Meeting Highlights
<h1>October 13, 2021 Board Meeting Highlights</h1><p><strong>October 13, 2021 Agenda: </strong><a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TCksiO3Av08zpXC6I66yU2wbDBKgfDAG/view?usp=sharing">Agenda Package - October 13, 2021 (Online).pdf</a></p><p><strong>Coulee Collegiate</strong></p><p>Coulee Collegiate principal Tim Bloomfield provided an update to the board outlining how the school works in partnership with Medicine Hat Public Schools and the Medicine Hat College. Coulee Collegiate is unique compared to traditional public schools, as it provides both face to face instruction to college students who are upgrading or earning their high school diploma, while also providing course options for current 10-12 students. Due to the flexible nature of the program, it was noted the school generally fluctuates between 400-550 active students at any one time. In addition to high school courses and option classes, the school also offers institutes that allow high school aged students to earn workplace certifications at no cost.&nbsp; Although, in the early stages of implementation, the partnership between Prairie Rose Public Schools, Medicine Hat Public Schools and Medicine Hat college is an incredible success.</p><p><strong>Superintendent Performance Assessment Guide</strong></p><p>Deputy Superintendent Reagan Weeks presented a new assessment guide for evaluating the division’s superintendent performance measures annually. The proposed changes align with the new Superintendent Quality Standards and still allow flexibility for the board to add localized items for assessment.</p><p><strong>Board Correspondence</strong></p><p>Board Chair Stuart Angle shared that all correspondence to the board regarding stakeholder positions for the implementation of a proof of vaccination program has been compiled and placed in a folder for all trustees to review.</p><p><strong>Proof of Vaccination Program</strong></p><p>Superintendent Roger Clarke spoke to the letter sent by the Minister’s of Education and Health advocating for boards to implement local policies/administrative procedures to support vaccinations and COVID-19 rapid testing requirements for Prairie Rose staff. There was some discussion regarding whether the timing was appropriate for making a decision with a new board being elected next week. Some background was shared regarding how the division arrived at being in a position to consider an administrative procedure for vaccination/proof of negative COVID test and any potential risks for delaying a decision. It was also noted that new guidance that was promised last week for school divisions has not yet been shared from Alberta Education and it would be helpful to have the new guidance and the corresponding health order, to ensure that the new PRPS administrative procedure aligns with the provincial documents. It was emphasized that a policy or procedure regarding vaccination/proof of negative COVID test would not impact students. The board voted in favour of tabling the motion for the implementation of an administration procedure for proof of vaccination/negative COVID test for staff, volunteers or practicum students.</p><p><strong>Transportation Accountability Report</strong></p><p>Director of Transportation Derek Beck shared the Transportation Accountability Report for information. Highlights of the report include:</p><ul><li>Prairie Rose transports 1,845 students on 83 bus routes that travel 17,040 kilometres each day.</li><li>The average cost of a bus route in Prairie Rose is $60,435 per year.</li><li>In the 2020-2021 year, Prairie Rose spent $5.28 million dollars on bus transportation.</li><li>Prairie Rose buses students from Cherry Academy Christian Academy, Holy Spirit School Division and Christ the Redeemer School Division to schools in Bow Island and Oyen.</li><li>The school division participates in a provincial bus safety poster contest each year, which actively promotes bus safety initiatives.</li><li>Prairie Rose contracts bus services from Southland Transportation (71), First Student (2), Old West Transport and independent contractors (5)</li><li>In addition to daily transportation of students to and from school, bus transportation supports student programming for academy and off-site field trips.</li></ul><p><strong>Financial Update</strong></p><p>Assistant Secretary Treasurer Candice Hintz provided a year-end financial update for the year 2020-2021. HIghlights of the report include:</p><ul><li>Alberta Education revenues of $358,000 higher than budgeted. This was due to one-time funding for online learning and the critical worker benefit payment.</li><li>Revenues are expected to come in $645,100 over budget. Main factors include the increase in Alberta Education funding, a decrease in donation revenue and equity return from ASBIE (Alberta School Boards Insurance Exchange).</li><li>Certified salaries came in $181,300 under budget. Sub costs also came in lower than budgeted.</li><li>Non certified salaries increased by $121,000. This is due to the critical worker benefit and EA hours purchased by schools.</li><li>Overall, the school division is expected to have an actual deficit of $24,098 (budgeted deficit of $351,140) for the 2020-2021 year with total expenditures coming in at $52,916,686 compared to $52,892,588 in revenues.</li></ul><p><strong>Enrollment Update</strong></p><p>Secretary Treasurer Ryan Boser provided the September 29, 2021, enrollment update for information. This past spring the division had projected a decrease in enrollment of 13 students for the current year compared to the 2020-21 school year. Actual enrollment came in 66 students below spring projections, for a total of 79 less students compared to the previous year. It was noted that due to the new funding formula and the weighted moving average, the division will only be losing 50% of the 2021-2022 funding. This amount represents approx. $282,000 of overall revenues. It was noted that due to the uncertainty with the ongoing pandemic, school divisions were ‘held-harmless’ for the 2020-21 school year as significant fluctuations occurred. This will offset approximately $149,000 of the overall amount. Reserves will be used to cover the remaining funding loss.</p><p><strong>Oyen Maintenance Shop</strong></p><p>Secretary Treasurer Ryan Boser explained that the Oyen maintenance shop has required replacement for many years. It is estimated that a new shop will cost between $100,000 and $175,000. The board approved a motion to allocate funds from capital reserves for the project.</p><p><strong>EL Policy #10</strong></p><p>Following the implementation of the new Education Act in September 2019, a number of Prairie Rose policies required updating to adhere to the new act. It was noted that Prairie Rose policy EL #10 School Closure / Transfer of Students still contained parts of the previous School Act and required realignment. Proposed changes were presented for feedback. The board voted in favour of approving the changes to EL #10, as presented.</p><p><strong>Human Resources Accountability Report</strong></p><p>Assistant Superintendent Kal Koch presented the Human Resources Report for information. Highlights of the report include:</p><ul><li>Prairie Rose employs 236 certified staff and 228 support staff.</li><li>Prairie Rose provides staffing to support inclusion, nutrition and mental health and wellness.</li><li>The average class sizes in Prairie Rose include:<ul><li>K: 15.2 students</li><li>Grades 1-3: 16.0 students</li><li>Grades 4-6: 20.3 students</li><li>Grades 7-9: 21.3 students</li><li>Grades 10-12: 22.4 students</li></ul></li><li>Prairie Rose has 121 teachers with 10+ years of experience.</li><li>Certified teaching salary costs for 2021-2022 are estimated at $26,785,174.</li><li>Support Staff salary costs for 2021-2022 are estimated at $10,600,443.</li></ul><p><strong>Seven Persons Field Trip</strong></p><p>Superintendent Roger Clarke presented a field trip request from Seven Persons School to participate in a four day trip to Kananaskis from October 22-25 of this month through Outward Bound. As the trip is overnight and takes place in the fall in the mountains, there are some additional logistics that are still being worked out. The board voted in favour of providing approval for the trip, pending final approval of the Superintendent.</p>
September 24 - COVID-19 Update
2021-09-24T20:03:56.402Z
September 24 - COVID-19 Update
<h1>September 24 - COVID-19 Update</h1><p>Over the past week there have been a number of changes related to the guidelines for schools for COVID-19. We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of these changes and clarify information related to parent notification when a confirmed case of COVID-19 is shared with our schools by parents. We have also been made aware of social media posts that are circulating that make claims regarding mandatory student vaccinations which are based on misinformation that we would like to address and clarify with our families.</p><p><strong>Recent Changes to the Re-Entry Plan and Health Screening Guides</strong><br>On September 22, 2021, the government updated the guidance document for schools following the declaration of a public health emergency in Alberta. We have made changes to our Prairie Rose Re-Entry Plan to reflect the new guidance document. You can find it, along with government guidance and the CMOH order that supports the changes on our website under the tab <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/12HIeN3oaL24UpdR87fT-NGeKXoTXONIU/view?usp=sharing">COVID-19 Resources</a>. Of particular note, the new health screening guide added a new section related to household close contacts. Until now there was no isolation recommendation for members of a family when someone tests positive for COVID-19. The Chief Medical Officer of Health has added a new section that changes this position. It is now <strong>strongly recommended</strong> that anyone who is a household close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to stay home for 14 days if they are not fully vaccinated. We recognize that this change will have a significant impact on many families and we encourage you to discuss any questions about this update with your school principal. You can find the changes reflected in updates to our <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/12oedZgsqwxJlmL6yMMLlR86E4PeuvGMG/view?usp=sharing">Student Illness Guide</a> and our <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IJ8D-GrZniZOevr6tKsVJ0NGb-SRMChH/view?usp=sharing">Adult Illness Guide</a>.</p><p><strong>Reporting COVID-19 Cases in Schools</strong><br>As we committed to in our re-entry plan, we have been notifying school communities when parents and staff have self-identified cases of COVID-19 in schools. To date, 10 of Prairie Rose’s 18 public schools have received notifications. When a case is self-reported to a school, the following information is collected to determine if the positive individual was in contact with others:</p><ol><li>What was the first date of symptoms?</li><li>Did the individual attend school when symptomatic?</li><li>If they did attend school, what classes would they have been in contact with?</li></ol><p>When determining whether the individual attended school when contagious, we take the first day of symptoms and go back two days. For example, if we are notified that a student first had symptoms on a Friday and was in school each day that week, we would consider them a close contact of others in the school. However, if we are informed that the first day of symptoms was on a Monday morning and that student had not been in school since the Friday prior, we would not include them on the close contact list. This process of going back two days is the same we used last year when working with Alberta Health Services to identify close contacts. While we understand that families want to know as much information as possible, we also need to balance that desire with an individual’s right to privacy and whether the positive case has an impact on others. This is why we only add positive cases to our reporting when they are deemed to be a close contact with others in the school community. When positive cases are confirmed to have been in class, parents receive a notification via School Messenger informing them of the first positive case along with instructions for accessing daily COVID updates. All the cases are also listed on the Prairie Rose website which can be found here: <a href="https://www.myprps.com/covid-19-reporting">https://www.myprps.com/covid-19-reporting</a></p><p><strong>Social Media Misinformation</strong><br>This past week it was brought to our attention that a post was circulating on social media claiming that school divisions were being deceptive in terms of mandatory vaccines, suggesting changes would be coming after the enrollment count on September 29th. We would like to make it very clear that this is inaccurate and fear mongering information and there have been zero conversations or engagement with school boards about this direction. School boards do not have the authority to mandate vaccinations. Our role is to ensure every student in Alberta has access to a quality education in an inclusive learning environment, which we will continue to support while prioritizing the safety of our students and staff.&nbsp;</p><p>We would like to thank all of our school community for their understanding and support as we navigate another school year of uncertainty. Together we will continue to move forward with providing quality learning opportunities for students, despite the challenges that exist. If you have any questions about the information in this latest update, we encourage you to bring them forward to your school principal.</p><p>Sincerely,<br>Roger Clarke<br>Superintendent of Schools</p>
Board Meeting Highlights - September 14, 2021
2021-09-17T20:24:38.000Z
Board Meeting Highlights - September 14, 2021
<h1>Board Meeting Highlights - September 14, 2021</h1><p><strong>Communications Report</strong></p><p>Director of Communications Angela Baron presented an overview of the main communication work that was completed across Prairie Rose during the 2020-2021 year and what was planned for 2021-2022. Some of the highlights of the report include managing COVID-19 communications (notifications, re-entry plans and inquiries), a rebranding of Prairie Rose School Division to Prairie Rose Public Schools, the launch of the new myPRPS (myprps.com) websites for all schools and the division, research and design of the new Home Plus Learning Network, an upcoming internal communications audit, a review of the cold weather section of the current inclement weather policy, and work as part of the design and implementation of the new assurance model that focuses on stakeholder feedback. The full report can be found here: <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tobjYVLxGbCRdpxAA5oDp7bcOntOnzKY/view">https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tobjYVLxGbCRdpxAA5oDp7bcOntOnzKY/view</a></p><p><strong>New Brigden School Future Maintenance and Space Utilization</strong></p><p>The board discussed the next steps for maintenance and space utilization at New Brigden School following the board decision on September 2, 2021, to end the school review process and keep the school open beyond the current school year. Trustees discussed and approved on a number of items they would like followed up on including removal or redeployment of portables, continued funding/in-kind support from the community, the addition of a financial update (based on the new funding formula) of New Brigden and all small Prairie Rose schools to the annual board monitoring schedule, and consideration of required maintenance projects at New Brigden School to be added to the Capital Plan.</p><p><strong>Truth and Reconciliation Day – Sept 30, 2021</strong></p><p>The board discussed what was happening across the country and at other school divisions in Alberta in regards to the announcement that September 30, 2021, would be declared a national holiday to commemorate Truth and Reconciliation. As the 30th was not given consent as a provincial holiday, there are varying ways each school organization is handling the day. While some have made it an operational day for all staff and students, other school divisions have decided to make it a non-instruction day or a holiday day. There was some discussion about the difference and impact to the division under each scenario. It was also noted that due to the short timeline, there is some concern that teachers and staff would not be adequately prepared to provide the best possible educational opportunity for students around truth and reconciliation. The board voted 5-1 in favour of making September 30th, for the 2021-2022 school year only, a non-operational day with pay for all staff, to recognize the day for Truth and Reconciliation.</p><p><strong>Advanced Vote</strong></p><p>The board passed a motion authorizing Returning Officer Ryan Boser to hold and advanced vote for the upcoming October 18th trustee election, should there be a slate of candidates in any of the six Prairie Rose wards.</p><p><strong>Welcome of the New Deputy Superintendent</strong></p><p>The board and upcoming Superintendent Reagan Weeks welcomed Mark Heinricks to the meeting and congratulated him on being selected as the new role as Deputy Superintendent. See the announcement here: <a href="https://www.myprps.com/news/chief-deputy-superintendent-announcement-1630611979151">https://www.myprps.com/news/chief-deputy-superintendent-announcement-1630611979151</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p>
Health Protocols in Schools - Update
2021-09-16T01:59:39.260Z
Health Protocols in Schools - Update
<h1>Health Protocols in Schools - Update</h1><p>On Wednesday evening, the province declared a state of public health emergency due to the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions in Alberta. A number of additional public health measures were added as a result of the declaration, including a few for schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Starting Thursday, September 16, 2021, the following public health measures will be implemented all Prairie Rose schools:</p><ul><li>Mandatory masking for grades 4-12 in all public areas and when students cannot be spaced two metres apart. <i>Please ensure you send your child to school with a mask.</i> When students are working at their own work spaces, masks may be removed. This follows the same model as the masking requirement from the 2020-2021 school year.</li><li>Each student in grade K-12 is still required to wear a mask while riding the school bus, as per <a href="https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/4a60eb75-5986-4da2-98d0-b9462e46dfcc/resource/c566b20f-dc1e-4265-bbae-97b33ae43cc2/download/health-cmoh-record-of-decision-cmoh-order-34-2021.pdf">CMOH Health Order 34-2021</a>.</li><li>Cohorting will be implemented, where possible, across all grades. Limited seating in common areas will help support this measure at the junior and high school levels.</li><li>Limited seating for spectators who attend indoor sporting or entertainment events to ⅓ capacity. Masking is now required the entire time a visitor is at the school.</li></ul><p>The school division will continue to follow all the other guidelines as laid out in the <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/12HIeN3oaL24UpdR87fT-NGeKXoTXONIU/view">2021-2022 Re-Entry Plan</a> including enhanced cleaning and notification to families when positive COVID-19 cases are reported from parents of individuals who attended school while ill. Our online re-entry plan will be updated tomorrow to reflect the new changes stated above.</p><p>We would like to thank all our parents for working with us to promote healthy and safe learning communities, despite the challenges we face, such as reviewing the daily health check each day and keeping your child home from school when sick. We would also like to thank our parents for keeping us well informed related to testing and student illness. Your cooperation promotes a collaborative community approach for maintaining a healthy school environment.</p><p>Roger Clarke<br>Superintendent of Schools</p>
Truth and Reconciliation Day - Sept 30
2021-09-15T16:45:29.168Z
Truth and Reconciliation Day - Sept 30
<h1>Truth and Reconciliation Day - Sept 30</h1><p><strong>2021-2022 School Calendar Adjustment - No School September 30th for Staff or Students</strong></p><p>Earlier this month, we shared with parents that a decision would be made by the board at the next public meeting regarding how to approach the newly announced September 30th federal holiday to recognize Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. The day commemorates and remembers residential school survivors and their families. At the public board meeting held Tuesday afternoon, the Prairie Rose Public Schools Board of Trustees voted in favour of making September 30th a non-operational day, which means that students and staff would not attend school on September 30th.&nbsp;</p><p>Key considerations for the board included:</p><ul><li>It was important for Prairie Rose to recognize September 30th in an official manner, especially considering the new information that Canadians learned this past summer in regards to residential schools.</li><li>Could the day be appropriately recognized and coordinated by staff, under short timelines, to ensure curricular activities reflective authentic and acceptable reconciliation actions?</li><li>Would the Alberta Government move to adopting the national holiday in the future?</li><li>What are other school jurisdictions and organizations in Alberta doing?</li></ul><p>The board felt that it was important to ensure that any student-led activities should be appropriately researched and led by those with knowledge and experience of truth and reconciliation. As such, it was decided that due to the short timelines for implementation, September 30, 2021, would be shifted from an instructional day to a non-operational day for the current school year. The decision does not mean that Prairie Rose has established September 30th as a statutory holiday in the future. When the 2022-2023 calendar is created later this school year, the Board of Trustees will research an appropriate path forward. In the meantime, staff will research and plan for appropriate activities that can be utilized across Prairie Rose classrooms for both future Truth and Reconciliation and the June Indigenous Peoples Day.&nbsp;</p><p>We recognize the short notice for families, but also believe that teaching our students about truth and reconciliation is important work that must be done carefully and appropriately.</p><p>Stuart Angle<br>Board Chair<br>Prairie Rose Public Schools</p>