Editor’s note: The following is a letter addressed to all parents and staff in Holy Family Catholic Regional Division March 12.
The Holy Family Catholic Regional Division is deeply concerned about the ongoing spread of COVID-19 [the Coronavirus], and we are aware that many of you share these same concerns. We are closely monitoring the situation and reviewing all updates we receive from Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada and will continue to follow their directives. Currently, school closures have not been recommended for COVID-19 prevention. Schools will continue to operate with new requirements for travel for staff.
Effective immediately, we are introducing limitations to business travel and new requirements for reporting personal travel for staff. All new limitations and reporting requirements are outlined below. We care deeply about the health of our communities and by introducing business travel limitations and personal travel reporting requirements, we believe that together we can further prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Business Travel Limitations
Effective immediately, the Office of the Superintendent must approve all division-related travel outside of division boundaries. To seek approval, submit your request to firstname.lastname@example.org with details on why travel would be considered essential. If you are uncertain or require advice about this requirement, please contact Supt. Betty Turpin.
All travel [staff and students] to locations designated by Global Affairs Canada as “Level 3 – avoid all non-essential travel” and “Level 4 – avoid all travel” is suspended until further notice. HFCRD schools do not have any student trips planned for outside of Canada so this restriction will not affect any trips this school year.
Travellers are expected to take all reasonable precautions to minimize the likelihood of exposing our communities to increased risk upon their return.
The overarching aim of this directive is to protect the health, safety and wellness of our education community and the greater Alberta community. These directives also help ensure business continuity across our Division. These directives have been developed in conjunction with best practices established by public health authorities and are designed to protect individual members of the education community and to help reduce the spread of illness.
At this time, we are requesting that all staff embarking on personal travel to any location outside of their home community register their plans [location and date] with their school principal. Central office staff are requested to register their travel plans [location and date] with the Office of the Superintendent at email@example.com.
Before booking or embarking on travel outside the province of Alberta, all members of the Division are strongly encouraged to evaluate all associated risks, which may include the risk of becoming ill, falling under the restrictions of a foreign government, or forfeiting traveler’s cancellation or medical coverage.
All members of the community returning from a jurisdiction with an active travel health notice from the Government of Canada, whether the travel was business or personal travel, are expected to take reasonable steps to prevent exposing our community to risk. This includes self-monitoring and, if returning from a level 3 or level 4 locations such as Hubei province, China, Italy, or Iran self-isolating for 14 days.
If a Member of the Household is Required to Self-Isolate
All members of the Division who share a household with an individual who is self-isolating due to a reasonable risk of exposure to COVID-19 are expected to do likewise unless advised otherwise by Alberta Health Services.
Division employees are expected to discuss the situation with their supervisor [principal or superintendent] and make alternate arrangements, such as telecommuting, to the extent possible.
Visitors to Holy Family Catholic Schools
All visitors and contractors are expected to take all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to members of the Division, including the precautions described above.
If a member of the Division or school community has plans to host visitors to any school or office in the Division, they are required to assess the risk exposing the community to COVID. This includes confirming that any visitors who have travelled to or from high-risk locations designated by Global Affairs Canada as “Level 3” and “Level 4” have taken the appropriate steps regarding self-isolation for 14 days regardless of their current health.
Individuals in self isolation should closely watch for symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing and call Health Link  if any of these symptoms are noted. If the Division host is unable to obtain reasonable assurance that there is no risk to the community, they should consider cancelling the visit or making alternate arrangements.
Infection Control Expectations
With the recent confirmation of cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, it is vital that everyone maintain high levels of infection control. Regardless of your status as staff, student, contractor or visitor, if you are conducting Division business and/or attending any of our schools, you are expected to follow basic precautions, and must:
* Wash your hands with soap and water often. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if hands are not visibly dirty.
* Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
* Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag.
* If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
* Wash your hands immediately after coughing and/or sneezing.
* Stay home if you’re sick.
* Clean and disinfect surfaces that are shared and used often.
* Do not share food, utensils, dishes, water bottles or drink containers
Supporting and Talking to Students
COVID-19 can make students and families anxious. The National Association of School Psychologists has a number of recommendations on their website here.
Thank you in advance for your understanding as we navigate this ongoing situation and continue to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Circumstances are changing on an ongoing basis and at times very rapidly, therefore we will continue to send updates as needed.
Yours in Christ,
Betty Turpin, Superintendent.