Update: 6 p.m. March 16, 2020
Thank you for your patience while we have been seeking clarification and working on what the next few days and months will look like for Northern Lights Public Schools.
Today our division office leadership team participated in a conference call with Alberta Education where we received a bit more direction on how we are to proceed in the coming weeks. Tomorrow we will be speaking to jurisdictional leaders throughout the province to discuss options for providing programming to students. Our goal is to create a plan that will offer learning opportunities for our students and will be consistent with other jurisdictions in the province.
That being said, there is still a lot we don’t know and we ask for your continued patience and understanding while we work our way through all of the details and develop plans to deal with this situation.
We have been receiving a lot of questions from parents and we would like to address some of the more frequently asked questions in this communication. If there are questions we have not addressed, please respond to this email with your question and we will try our best to answer it. Please understand that the situation is changing very quickly and there is still a lot we don’t know or are able to confirm. We want to make sure that when we provide you with information it is as accurate as possible.
Parents will still have the opportunity to discuss their child’s progress with their child’s teacher(s) this week, but it will not be in the format that had been planned. Instead of in-person meetings or student-led conferences, your child’s school or teacher will contact you to set up a time to talk over the phone or via videoconference. Please note that these meetings will focus on discussing your child’s progress to date this year, and not on what programming may be provided to them moving forward. Those details will be shared at a later date.
Many parents and students have asked when they can come to school to collect personal items and other things they have at school. Please do not drop by the school to pick things up as we are unable to provide access to our schools to parents at this time. We are working on a process that will allow people to retrieve belongings and your child’s school will share details with you about the procedure to follow once they have been confirmed. If there are items that are needed urgently (medically related, etc.) please contact your child’s school to make arrangements.
Report cards will be shared with parents this week. Our schools are working on plans to distribute them and will share those plans with parents.
Programming for Students
We can assure you that every student in every grade will receive a final mark for the classes they were enrolled in before classes were cancelled.
As mentioned above, we are working with Alberta Education and other school jurisdictions in the province to determine what continuity of programming for students will look like and what the possible methods of delivery may be. It may take some time to determine how this will work for Northern Lights students.
We want to ensure that we are able to provide students with opportunities that are valuable for them and that we will be able to provide on a consistent basis, while also dealing with the potential impact of COVID-19 on our operations, including staff who need to self-isolate or may become ill.
Once we have a plan developed, we will share details with all of our parents and students.
Provincial Achievement Tests for Grade 6 and 9 students have been cancelled. Provincial Diploma Exams are still going ahead, but there may be changes made to what students will be required to write them and how they are delivered. Alberta Education is working on clarifying this for school divisions and we will update you on this when information is available.
Grade 12 Students and Graduation
As was mentioned by the Education Minister, every student who was on track to graduate will graduate. As discussed above, we will have information in the coming days about how we will be delivering content for students so they can meet course requirements and complete graduation requirements.
At this time we are unsure of what graduation ceremonies will look like and when they might be hosted. We will be working with schools, students and parents to determine what alternatives may be available. Our focus at this time is on ensuring students have what they need academically, so it may take some time for us to determine how to address graduation ceremonies.
Refunds for Field Trips, Pre-Purchased Items, and Fees
As we only learned of classes being cancelled at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, we have not yet had an opportunity to determine what the process will be for refunding fees that parents have paid for field trips that have been cancelled, hot lunches that aren’t going ahead, and our out of school care and preschool programs which have been closed. We hope to have an answer for you before the end of the month.
Services to Students
Our school administrators, mental health consultants, and school counsellors will be working closely with Alberta Health Services to ensure that students who were receiving mental health and counselling services will continue to be able to get the assistance they need.
For students accessing inclusive education services, we are also working with our partners at Alberta Health Services on accessing assistance for families and students. If you have specific concerns, please do not hesitate to call your child’s school for assistance with meeting students’ needs.
We will provide further updates as they become available. Please take care during these challenging times.