Safe School Plan 2021-22 - Updated February 28, 2022
Guided by the provincial 2021-22 Safe Schools Plan and recommendations from local Medical Health Officers, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools has developed plans to help keep students and staff safe while at school.
With provincial Public Health Orders ending February 27, 2022 (see Feb. 15 update below), we have revised our Safe Schools Plan to reflect provincial changes and changes made in consultation with local medical health officers.
February 15, 2022 Update:
On February 8, the Government of Saskatchewan released their plan to remove COVID-19 restrictions in the province. The plan outlines a timeline to remove the two Public Health Orders in place: proof of vaccination or negative test, and use of masks and mandatory self-isolation.
Effective February 14, 12:01 am, the requirement to provide proof of vaccination or proof negative test for specified government employees and to enter certain businesses has been removed. Our board policy, that was based on this Public Health Order and the underlying legislation, has been rescinded by the Board of Education. Staff, contractors, volunteers, external presenters and members of partner organizations will no longer need to provide proof of vaccination or proof of negative test to enter schools.
The government has made booster doses available to 12 – 17 year olds, and anyone five years old and over is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. We continue to endorse vaccination as one of the most effective ways to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and significantly reduce the chance of severe illness.
Beginning February 28, masks will no longer be required in indoor public settings in Saskatchewan. As instructed through a Minister of Education Directive dated February 11, we will remove mask requirements for students and staff. (Note: This Directive stated the Public Health Order with respect to masks and self-isolation will end February 28 to align with the return from the break, not March 1 as indicated in the February 8 announcement.)
Our local medical health officers continue to recommend the use of masks indoors, and we suspect many will continue to use them while in school to help protect themselves and others. As the province shifts to personal responsibility to address the pandemic, we trust that everyone will respect the choices of others regarding mask use.
Rapid tests and self-isolation
Rapid antigen tests remain available through schools and various other locations in the community. We encourage continued use of rapid antigen tests as a screening tool to help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in schools. Please request test kits from your school.
As of February 28, the requirement for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate will no longer be in place. Public Health continues to recommend individuals self-isolate for five days following a positive test. If symptoms persist after five days, individuals should remain at home until symptoms have improved for 48 hours. There is no requirement to inform the school of a positive test, but we do ask that you record your child’s absence.
Other precautionary measures
COVID-19 is clearly still in our communities. Throughout the pandemic, we have had several layers of precautionary measures in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep students and staff safe. In addition to the items mentioned above, we will continue:
- daily health screening,
- staying home if you test positive or are not feeling well,
- we will continue to ask parents/caregivers to pick up students who do not feel well at school,
- practicing good hand hygiene, and
- regularly disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.
Given the significant changes to the provincial approach to the pandemic, we will consult with our local medical health officers (as we have done since the beginning) to determine what, if any, changes are needed to our Safe Schools Plan. We will communicate any changes to you at a later date.
We recognize some will feel more comfortable with these changes than others. We understand and respect various views, opinions and emotions. Please practice empathy toward each other, as not everyone has the same life situation or experiences that shape our unique perspectives. Let us act kindly, mercifully, patiently and lovingly toward one another—just as Jesus has done to us.
Thank you for your continued support for one another.
Greg Chatlain, Director of Education
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
Diane Boyko, Board of Education Chair
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
January 27, 2022 Update:
The Government of Saskatchewan announced changes to the Public Health Order requiring self-isolation for close contacts of a COVID-19 positive case. The changes will be effective starting Friday, January 28.
Relevant changes for school settings are:
- Close contacts are no longer required to self-isolate, regardless of vaccine status.
- Parents are no longer required to inform schools when your child tests positive for COVID-19.
- The isolation period for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 is five (5) days, or 24 hours with no fever and other symptoms have been improving for at least 48 hours, whichever is later, regardless of vaccine status.
- Anyone currently self-isolating for 10 days as a positive COVID-19 case may amend your isolation period to five (5) days, or 24 hours with no fever and other symptoms have been improving for at least 48 hours, whichever is later, as of 12 noon, January 28.
- Anyone currently self-isolating for 10 days as a close contact may end your isolation period as of 12 noon, January 28, if asymptomatic.
Everyone is reminded to continue self-monitoring for symptoms, use rapid antigen tests to monitor and detect positive cases, and stay home if you are not feeling well or test positive. Please continue reporting absences through Edsby (or other process your school may have) including the length of absence, if known.
Masks are still required as directed in the Public Health Order, and multiple layers of safety precautions remain in place.
Given these changes, schools will no longer be sending exposure notifications to parents and caregivers. Reasons for this change include:
- Without the requirement for close contacts to self-isolate, notification of being a close contact is no longer required.
- As schools will no longer be notified of cases, schools will not have accurate information to pass along to families.
- In the absence of a Public Health Order or direction from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, we do not have the authority to share health information that parents/caregivers share with us in confidence.
Any classes that are currently online will move back to in-class learning Monday, January 31.
Thank you once again for your patience and understanding as processes continue to change.
January 6, 2022 Update:
With the December 30 update that requires individuals who test positive with a rapid antigen test to self-isolate (see below), the communication process to notify parents and caregivers has changed.
In the absence of the confirmatory PCR test, the school division will not receive information about isolation dates or contact tracing from the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Therefore, schools will not have official SHA notification about a positive case to forward to parents and caregivers.
Revised process for communication:
- When a positive case is identified using a rapid antigen test, parents/caregivers are asked to notify the school.
- The revised provincial Public Health Orders requires notification of close contacts.
- Any information provided is considered private and treated as such. The only information that will be shared is the fact an individual in a class (or on a bus) tested positive and the date the school received notification.
- The school will send a notification to the class and people riding the same bus (if applicable) with information about self-isolation and possible exemptions to isolation.
- Notifications to the whole school community will not be sent.
Here's a flow chart that helps explain close contacts and self-isolation.
The Public Health Order defines “fully vaccinated” as an individual who has completed 14 days or more after receiving the second dose of a two-dose COVID19 immunization series or the first dose of a single-dose immunization series.
December 30, 2021 Provincial Update
On December 30, the province announced changes to COVID-19 testing and case management guidelines. The changes include:
- Effective immediately, asymptomatic residents who receive a positive COVID-19 result on a rapid antigen test will no longer be recommended to receive a confirmatory PCR test. Whether you have received a positive test result through a rapid antigen test or a PCR test, all residents are required to self-isolate and notify their contacts as part of COVID-19 case management protocols.
- Fully vaccinated asymptomatic residents who receive a positive COVID-19 result on a rapid antigen test or PCR test will be required to self-isolate for five days, down from 10 days.
Read the full provincial news release.
October 8, 2021 Update to Public Health Order
In an October 1, 2021 update to the provincial Public Health Order, the following change was made for household close contacts:
"Any unvaccinated child who is or becomes a close contact of an individual with COVID-19 due to an exposure in the household is no longer exempt from self-isolation to attend school or daycare; these children must self-isolate and any exemption is automatically revoked.
September 20, 2021 Update:
Language changed to add clarity on recommendation of cohorts and specifics to be outlined in school-specific plans.
September 16, 2021 Update:
Information on types and fit of masks (a link to the Government of Saskatchewan website) has been added.
As of September 15, 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan has re-instated Public Health Orders (revised Sept. 17) requiring self-isolation for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or are considered close contacts.
September 3, 2021 Update:
Starting Tuesday, September 7, 2021, mask requirements are being extended to high schools in Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. Masks will be required indoors for all students, staff and visitors in all GSCS buildings in Saskatoon and surrounding area. Mask use was strongly recommended in high schools prior to this date.
This decision has been made at the recommendation of our local Medical Health Officers. Driven by the Delta variant, COVID-19 case rates have increased exponentially in our province over the past few weeks, and Saskatoon has seen one of the most dramatic rises in active cases.
Our goal is to maintain in-person learning and keep students with us in classes. We want students and staff to be safe in our school communities. While vaccinations have proven to be the most effective layer of protection against COVID-19, other layers of protection, including mask use, are required to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.
Read the Safe Schools 2021-22 Plan (Updated Sept. 20, 2021)
Health Screening Questionnaire (to be done daily before entering schools).