As much as possible, physical distancing between students will be maintained to minimize risk. However, there will be times when physical distancing will be unable to be maintained, which is why it is key that anyone showing symptoms stays home, then gets tested and cleared before returning to school.
Student Arrival and Entry
During the morning drop-off, students should physically distance outdoors until the doors open. As part of the staggered entry plan, doors will open no earlier than 8:00 am for Junior High and no earlier than 8:10 am for Elementary. For families with students in both Junior High and Elementary, students should be dropped off no earlier than 8:10 am. Each grade will have an assigned door. Students will enter the building from their assigned doors in an effort to minimize physical interactions with other classes. Diagrams outlining assigned doors will be sent before school starts.
Once the doors are opened, students will move directly to their designated entry door and enter the building while staying two meters apart from others where possible. GCA staff will supervise and encourage physical distancing as students proceed through the mudrooms and hallways, to their classes.
All staff and students must utilize hand sanitizer when entering the building and before entering their classroom. Once in the school, students will head directly to their class. Lockers will only be used for storing outdoor clothing. Students will need to keep all of their school supplies / binders in the classroom.
As has been communicated by Alberta Health Services, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is reduced by limiting exposure to others. In light of this, cohorting has been an encouraged form of practice. A cohort is defined as a group of students and staff who remain together. Contact tracing is also more feasible when groups (cohorts) are maintained. GCA’s students will be cohorted by classroom whenever feasible, and by grade during shared activities (ie: recess, lunch, Physical Education, Junior High Options, etc). As much as possible, the cohorts will stay in the same space, and teachers will move between spaces.
To ensure physical distancing within the hallways, stanchions (rope barriers) and arrows have been implemented in high traffic areas to provide directional flow of traffic and safe distancing for staff and students.
Students will remain in homeroom classes as much as possible, with teachers moving between classes. There will be exceptions in some subjects. In Elementary, students will still move classrooms for Physical Education, Music, Grade 4/5 Art and Grade 4/5 Science. In Junior High, students will move for Physical Education, French, Spanish, Option Classes and possibly Science. Bell times will be staggered when possible to reduce density in hallways.
During lunch time / recess, students will use assigned doors to ensure minimum interaction outside of their grade level.
Typical large gatherings of students, such as assemblies or other multi-grade gatherings (ie: chapels) will not occur, if physical distancing of two meters between each student cannot be maintained.
As per Alberta Health Guidance, water fountains can remain open. Mouthpieces of drinking fountains are not a major source of virus transmission and require regular cleaning according to manufacturer recommendations.
Water fountain knobs and push buttons are considered high-touch surfaces, and will be regularly cleaned and disinfected, along with all other high-touch surfaces.
Regular washroom access will be maintained. Washroom capacity will be posted, and students will be expected to wait, while practicing physical distancing from each other, if the washroom capacity is exceeded. Washrooms will be cleaned regularly. Signage will be placed about washing hands and physical distancing.
In Scenario 1, physical distancing will be limited, with 20 to 25 students in each classroom. Furniture that cannot be sanitized will be removed and desks will be separated as much as possible, with assigned seating. Students will not share supplies. Desks will no longer be set-up in clusters; desks will be spread out as much as possible. Where table configurations require students to face one another, barriers (similar to plexiglass) will be placed between students facing one another. Soft, non-wipeable seating will not be accessible to students.
Shared School Technology
All shared technology, such as computers, chromebooks and iPads, will be sanitized between each use.
GCA will ensure an orderly exit and entry during recess, using dedicated entry/exit doors. Students will be required to sanitize their hands when leaving for recess and returning to the classroom. Supervisors will encourage students to physically distance as much as possible during the recesses. The playgrounds will be available to the students. Study Halls (Elementary & Junior High) will have maximum capacities to ensure physical distancing.
GCA’s cafeteria will operate, following all food service establishment guidelines identified by Alberta Health Services. The number of students in the cafeteria will depend on Alberta Health Guidance. Depending on this guidance, GCA will allow some classes to eat in the cafeteria, while others eat in their classrooms, on a rotating basis. For those students eating in their classrooms that use the cafeteria’s services, lunches can be ordered and delivered to the classroom(s).
Cafeteria usage will be modified to increase distancing between students. One space between each student will be implemented to ensure distancing, and only one grade will use the cafeteria at a time. Cafeteria will have assigned seating, to assist with contact tracing. If choosing to purchase food from the cafeteria, to eliminate line-ups and crowding, for all grades, parents must pre-order cafeteria lunches in advance. There will be increased cleaning between groups to ensure that the space can be disinfected for the next group of users. Microwaves will be removed from the cafeteria. The cafeteria will not operate any ‘buffet-style’ services. Cutlery, napkins and other items will be dispensed to students as required.
No activities that involve sharing food should occur between students or staff. If students are eating snacks or lunches in classrooms, any food brought from home must be stored with the student’s belongings until it is time for snack/lunch. Proper hand washing or sanitizing must take place before the consumption of food and after the food has been eaten. As well, desk surfaces will need to be cleaned and disinfected after eating.
Reducing population density throughout the school
Floor markings and stanchions (rope barriers) are in place to provide directional flow and reduce congregating in high traffic areas. All public area seating is restricted and building access for parents and the general public is discouraged unless necessary.
Large gathering spaces such as the theatre can be utilized to accommodate physical distancing (e.g 1 grade per chapel) and may be considered for use for various activities to help mitigate distance requirements.
All physical education classes are encouraged to be outside, weather permitting, and physical education curriculum will be modified to accommodate for distancing and to avoid sharing of equipment.
Gymnasiums / Locker Rooms
Students will continue to use the gymnasium for Physical Education. To promote physical distancing, grades 4-5 will no longer use the change rooms, instead wearing their gym strips under their uniforms (same as Grades 1-3). For Junior High, the students will still use the locker rooms, however, capacity limitations will be set (5 students in each locker room at a time). Activities in the gymnasium will focus on units that do not require close contact or sharing of equipment as much as possible. Whenever possible, Physical Education will occur outside instead of inside the gymnasiums.
Parking Lot – Pick-up Procedures via PikMyKid
In keeping with Alberta Health guidelines for physical distancing, GCA will be implementing a pick-up management app, called PikMyKid, to help manage after school pick up. The PikMyKid system uses a combination of smartphone, tablet apps, school portals and district dashboards to keep communication open and dismissal safe.
Using PikMyKid will enable reduced crowding during pick up, and is intended to ensure a safer, managed and physically distanced dismissal of students.
Parents will have access to the application before the start of the school year, and must use it daily to indicate when they’ve arrived at the school for pick-up of their students. Once the parents have indicated that they’ve arrived at the school, the students will be dismissed. This staggered dismissal will reduce hallway congestion.