Welcome to the 2021-22 school year!
I extend a most warm welcome to our returning families and to those joining our community for the first time! I also extend a special welcome back to those students returning from HUB learning!
The start of this school year has been somewhat more typical of how we would want a school year to begin. However, the reality is that COVID is still very much a lingering factor influencing both the structure and culture of our school community.
As we all attempt to continue navigating through these challenging times, it is essential that we all have a common understanding of and appreciation for the heightened health and safety protocols that have been put into place by the Calgary Board of Education in order to ensure for the safety of students, staff, and families.
Key highlights of our safety plan for students, staff, and parents include:
- Students and staff completing the daily health screening assessment before coming to school.
- Students not arriving at school before 8:15 and promptly leaving the school and school grounds at the end of the day.
- Students always entering and exiting through their designated entrances/exits.
- Grades 4-6 students remaining in their homeroom cohort for all classes, including physical education and complementary classes. Students in grades 7-9 remain in grade cohorts, meaning that they may be in mixed PE classes and complementary classes with students from other homerooms at their grade level.
- Students are required to wear masks at all times, unless social distancing can be achieved or a medical mask exemption has been obtained. Masks remain worn during class time as we cannot achieve physical distancing owing to class size and furniture limitations. Please note that mask breaks are incorporated throughout the day for students while in their homeroom classrooms. Masks are also required whenever students are travelling through common areas of the school.
- Students and staff hand-washing whenever entering or exiting their classroom throughout the day.
- Students must remain in the same assigned seat for all classes.
- Continual promoting of social distancing
- Although athletics is running, spectators are only permitted for outdoor sports such as soccer and cross-country. Indoor spectators are not permitted for volleyball.
- Assemblies are not being held and extra-curricular clubs are not running.
- Volunteers and visitors are permitted, provided they are scheduled and have completed the required COVID screening protocols.
In order to further minimize numbers of people in the hallways, we continue to have a “soft entry," meaning that students can start entering the building as early as 8:15 and go directly to their homeroom classroom for the 8:30 formal start to the day.
For lunch, we have implemented a staggered lunch. Students in grades 4 and 5 go outside for the first half of lunch while grade 6 students remain inside to eat their lunch. Half way through lunch, grades 4 and 5 students come in for lunch while grade 6 students then go outside. This is intended to reduce the number of students congregating both inside and outside at any one time
.It should be noted that students in grades 7-9 are allowed to remain at school for lunch. They have the option of spending the first half of lunch eating in their homeroom classroom or tables set in the upstairs foyer. They must then go outside for the second half of lunch. Those students who choose to leave for lunch at the start of the lunch hour must promptly exit the building at the start of lunch and they will not be permitted to re-enter the building until the end of the formal lunch period at 1:17.
Our school population for this year has settled in around 810 students from grades 4 through 9. Homeroom class size averages are as follows: Grade 4 – 18; Grade 5 – 27; Grade 6 – 29; Grade 7 – 31; Grade 8 – 28, and Grade 9 – 32.
This year we have welcomed some new teachers to our staff. I'm thrilled to introduce Ms. Michelle Craig, teaching Grade 6 Math, Science, and Physical Education; Ms. Priya Stephen has returned to teach Grades 7 and 8 Language Arts and Social Studies; Mr. Blake Doucet-Lewis is our new Music and Band teacher while Ms. Taylor Berry is away on maternity leave; and Ms. Kiana Truscott is teaching Language Arts and Physical Education. At the end of September we say farewell to Ms. Katie Birss as she begins her maternity leave. Please join me in wishing her the absolute best! Ms. Jamie Harris will be joining our school community at the start of October.
Usually in September we host a formal in-person “Meet the Teacher" evening in order to provide you with the opportunity to put faces to the names you've been hearing over the last few weeks. As we could not yet do that again this year, teachers have produced introductory videos that you can view by logging onto each of your child's Brightspace D2L shells in order to see and learn a little bit more about those working with your children. Videos will be accessible as early as this Saturday for your viewing enjoyment! I encourage you to contact your child's teachers, whether by phone or email should any concerns or questions arise for you. Direct email addresses for teachers can be found on our school website under the “About Us" tab.
In order to further connect you to the learning experience, I encourage you to regularly visit your child's course Brightspace D2L shells. The link for visiting those shells is contained on our school website at https://school.cbe.ab.ca/school/McKenzieHighlands/Pages/default.aspx. Brightspace course shells will contain important information about what is currently being studied in class, due dates for homework assignments, and test dates. Moreover, teachers will upload assignments and additional learning resources to Brightspace. This will be of particular benefit this year should students be away from class for an extended period of time. Academic achievement is no longer reported through Brightspace D2L but rather found by visiting your MyCBE PowerSchool account.
Over the course of the coming weeks, you will undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. Again, I strongly encourage you to bring those questions and issues directly to me, whether that be via email or phone call. That way we can ensure you have clarity and accuracy around those concerns. As well, if we know there is a problem, we are then better positioned to constructively fix the problem! So please, stay in touch directly with me. My direct email is email@example.com.
My best wishes to our students, parents, and staff as we journey through many unknows before us during this most unprecedented time!