Horizon School Division updates COVID-19 guidelines

·4 min read

The Horizon School Division has updated its COVID-19 regulations, returning to single cohorts and encouraging regular testing, with kits available for students by reaching out to their principal.

This is following the Government of Saskatchewan updating the COVID-19 Public Health Order on Dec. 30, so that 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; and 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.

“We’re indicating to families that we’re encouraging them to test their children on a regular basis,” said Kevin Garinger, Horizon’s director of education. “Regular for some might be every day, others it might be once every 72 hours, it might be once a week.”

The responsibility to ensure testing falls on the parent or guardian of the student.

Before coming to school each day, families in Horizon are continued to be instructed that they should conduct a COVID-19 self-monitoring checklist to determine whether they can attend or should stay home. By attending school, parents and emancipated youth are agreeing that they are symptom-free and have not received a positive COVID-19 test.

Rapid tests are now available for families through their school. Families are asked to contact their principal if they would like to access Rapid Antigen Tests. Testing kits are also available at various locations throughout the province and can be found through Saskatchewan.ca.

Students, staff, or visitors who feel ill or have any symptoms of COVID-19 cannot enter the school. If a student or staff member becomes ill during the school day, they will need to leave the school immediately or move to the school’s sickroom.

Schools will group Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6 students together in cohorts as a safety strategy, with a student’s assigned class being considered their cohort. Junior high and high school schedules may need to be adjusted.

For extracurricular meets between schools within the Horizon School Division, a negative COVID-19 test will be required before each meet. With schools outside of Horizon, a negative test result will be required before and after.

As of Jan. 5, Horizon is at Level 3 of the Levels of Concern; Level 2 of Horizon School Division Physical Education COVID-19 Protocol; Level 2 of Horizon School Division Performing Arts COVID-19 Protocol; and Level 2 of Horizon School Division Return to Sport COVID-19 Protocol.

For the Levels of Concern, under Level 3, which is a high level of concern and high level of urgency, individual classroom cohorts must be established and maintained indoors and outdoors; assemblies shall be held virtually; limit number of people in hallways and common areas; physical contact is prevented, where possible; masking required at all times indoors, except when eating and drinking or participating in physical activity; and limit visitors in schools.

For the Performing Arts COVID-19 Protocol, under Level 2, which is a moderate level of concern and moderate level of urgency, the physical distance of 1 metre is required when playing instruments or performing vocally, masking is required at all times including not when playing a woodwind or brass instrument, live performances only with permission from the director of education or designate, and virtual performances may be recorded and or streamed online respecting privacy requirements.

For the Physical Education COVID-19 Protocol, under Level 2, which is a moderate level of concern and moderate level of urgency, physical contact is discouraged, masking required for indoor Phys Rd when not participating, masking encouraged for outdoor Phys Ed, and shared equipment sanitised between users. For changing rooms the number of students from the same cohort is limited to ensure physical distance of one metre masking required unless showering.

To help the division manage cases in the schools, the division encourages parents or guardians to continue to notify their school’s principal in the event their child tests positive for COVID-19. Parents of students who test positive for COVID-19 are also encouraged to call HealthLine 811.

The Division will continue to send notifications of cases to staff and families. This will be done through a general letter to all staff and families of a positive case identified by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). When notified of a positive rapid antigen test, they will provide notification of a presumptive case to the impacted school, with information regarding the classroom(s) impacted.

Garinger said through regular testing, they hope to prevent the spread to students and staff who are more susceptible and to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“We maintain the restrictions, but we’re not shutting everything down. We’re not shutting down sports for kids because that’s critical to their mental health, but we’re going to do it in a safe way. We’re going to test them before competition and after competition.”

Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal

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