As we head into the second half of September, and with a rise in COVID cases across the province, I wanted to reiterate the health protocols that we currently have in place at EMJ, and what they mean for your children.
The health and safety of our students is our number one priority, and we continue to do everything possible to support our students on a daily basis across the school. Some of the measures that are in place include:
- The hiring of additional cleaning staff to sanitize high touch surfaces throughout the day
- Consistent class cohorting, which means that classes are limited to their own group within the building throughout the day. Students are with the same group all day, including during snack/eating times
- When classes are outside during recess or lunch times, they continue to be cohorted and are only able to play in their designated spot for that day, which limits exposure to other students in other grades
- Mandatory masking of all students (with the exception of those that have approved exemptions)
- Students have a designated meeting spot outside at the beginning of each day, and the playground is closed in the morning before school
- Parents are only allowed in office areas to pick up or drop off students if necessary
- Meetings (such as school conferences) are held online to reduce the traffic in the building
- Signs are up throughout the building reminding students of proper handwashing/etc., as well as floor markers to support traffic flow
- Multiple sanitizer/handwashing stations throughout the school
- Desks in classrooms are separated in order to provide the maximum amount of distance between students
- Sports equipment, tools, and manipulatives are sanitized between uses
- Physical distancing is maintained as much as possible throughout the day
- Students exhibiting signs of illness will be moved to a supervised space away from other students. This area will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after the student has been picked up
- Although volunteers are valued members of our community in their support of our students, to minimize outside contact of established student cohorts, there are no volunteers working in the school
- In-person guests such as guest speakers and artists in residence will not be invited into schools to minimize outside contact of established cohorts
- Each student has been be provided with a personal pencil box filled with school supplies and notebooks that will be kept in their desk
- Use of shared materials is minimized and when necessary, any shared supplies will be sanitized and/or quarantined for 72 hours between student use
- Recess breaks and transitions in/out of the school are staggered so that cohorts do not mix. There are two separate recess times and two separate lunch times to limit exposure to other cohorts
- When weather does not permit outside recess, students will participate in play and physical activity within their classroom during break times
We are working hard every day to ensure that our students remain safe, and appreciate the support of our community!
What a great first two weeks at EMJ! We welcomed many new students and families to the school, and celebrated a new year with returning students. In classrooms, students spent time talking about learning spaces and how best to use areas to optimize their learning success. Although we continue with many of our health measures and protocols from last year in place for student safety, we are still here with the same goal-to support our students educationally, emotionally, and socially.
At this time, we continue to not be permitted to have any large gatherings, so unfortunately we are not able to hold our annual pancake breakfast that would typically be a time to welcome our families. This also means that events like the Halloween dance, gingerbread night, and the various concerts and performances that we would typically have throughout the year are on pause. We will keep our families updated with any changes that are made throughout the year.
We will hold our first school council meeting on October 12th at 6:30 pm. This is a great way to hear about things happening in the school and have input into school events. Taking on a role within council is not necessary to attend-we welcome all parents! This meeting will be held online, with an invite/link to follow.
September 23rd and 24th are the first set of conferences. There is no school for students on Friday the 24th. Conferences will not be face to face at this time, as we cannot yet have families in the building. Conferences will be booked online through Power School starting September 18th.
Picture day is next Thursday, September 16th. Students will have individual pictures taken, and masks are optional for the actual pictures.
The school year is almost here! We are looking forward to welcoming our school community to the 2021-22 school year. Teachers are busy planning and organizing classrooms for the upcoming year, and can't wait to welcome students!
We know that students are anxiously awaiting news on who their teacher will be this year. Staffing is a continually changing process, and we are still determining our classes and configurations based on student registrations and withdrawals. Teachers will be emailing parents Monday, August 30th to welcome students and talk about where to meet on the first day of school. Please know that due to ongoing registration changes at the school and through CBE Learn, there may be changes that need to be made with school and class organization after the first few days.
Our first day of classes for grades 1-6 will be on Wednesday, September 1st, with classes starting at 8:00 am.
Our hours for the upcoming year remain the same as in previous years:
Grades 1-6: Monday-Thursday, 8 am to 2:30 pm; Friday 8 am to 12:15 pm
Kindergarten: Monday-Friday, 8 am to 10:45 am
For kindergarten students we will be running staggered entry for the first two days of school. For students with surnames A-M, they will attend on Wednesday and Friday. For students with surnames that begin with N-Z, they will attend on Thursday and Friday. The regular schedule will begin on Tuesday, September 7th (Monday is Labour Day).
On August 18, the Calgary Board of Education sent an email to all families addressing re-entry information for all CBE Schools. These plans include staying home when sick, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, enhanced cleaning and disinfection in schools, cohorting of students, and mask guidelines. Please visit the CBE COVID-19 Information for the 2021-22 School Year for further information.
There is no need for students to purchase any supplies, as they will be provided by the school. Students will need a backpack, lunch kit, and indoor shoes.
Further information regarding protocols and calendars will be sent to families early next week. If you have any questions, please call us in the office at 403-777-8500.
We can't wait to see our students and families!
While June is an exciting final month of learning together, it has also been a heavy month of truth in Canada. The discovery of 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School was quickly been followed by the discovery of other unmarked graves at now defunct residential schools across Canada. As mentioned in our last administrator message, students feel strongly about this news and have responded by wearing orange, expressing their feelings through art, and communicating a desire to learn and know more.
During June, Canada's National Indigenous History Month, EMJ students and staff have actively worked to renew our commitment towards developing our own foundational knowledge about residential schools. As with all learning, teachers are thoughtful that our conversations are developmentally appropriate and respectful of the personal connections many our students and families hold in their hearts.
Thomas King has taught us, “The truth about stories is, that's all we are". With this in mind, story continues to bring us together to guide EMJ's Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and develop our shared capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and respect. June has been a time for EMJ students to learn through story to honor Canada's Indigenous History in different ways.
Grade one students have been learning about the history of story and understanding the importance of oral storytelling. They are developing understanding about why stories are told many times and that stories themselves are meant to teach. Students continue to reflect on the lessons they learn from Indigenous stories shared orally, within favourite picture books, episodes from the animated series Wapos Bay, and through throat singing and art. One student shared, “I learned I can't just think about me… I need to think about everyone."
Grade six students continue their regular Song of the Week analysis, looking closely at the lyrics from different songs. Most recently they have engaged in deep reading of the lyrics from the song “The Stranger" by Gord Downie. Students reflected on what the words mean to them and annotated the song lyrics, sharing thoughtful inferences helping them think about the lasting impact of residential schools in deep and meaningful ways.
Grade four students also spent time this month looking at stories expressed through song and art. The song “WE WON'T FORGET YOU" written, recorded and filmed with students from Sk'elep School of Excellence in Kamloops, British Columbia brought messages of truth and hope into their classroom conversations. These examples are just a brief window into the learning that is part of EMJ's Commitment to Action for Truth and Reconciliation. We continue our collective commitment towards developing understanding of and taking actionable steps recommended in the The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action. We will be recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, June 21 and Aboriginal Awareness Week in Calgary from June 21 – 25 as we commit to walking this path, in and through stories, together.
Below is a message sent this week on behalf of the Board of Trustees:
The Calgary Board of Education joins Canadians across the country in honouring the lives lost at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. We encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on the lives of these children and their families.
In response to the tragedy, flags at Calgary Board of Education schools and buildings will be lowered to half-mast starting Monday, May 31 until Friday, June 4.
Staff and students are encouraged to wear an orange shirt next week to show solidarity with residential school survivors and help send the message that every child matters. More information about the history of Orange Shirt Day and the significance of the orange shirt can found on the official website.
We continue to support the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action as part of the CBE's system Indigenous Education Holistic Lifelong Learning Framework.
The CBE acknowledges the words of Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: “Education is how we will heal, teaching our children that we are all equal is how we will stop racism and bring about reconciliation."
Survivors of the Indian Residential School system can get support through the 24/7 crisis line (1-866-925-4419), and additional support is available through the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868). Support is available to CBE employees through Homewood Health (1-800-663-1142).
At EMJ this week, many of our students wore orange, and had opportunities to reflect and think about the significance of both our history, as well as our role moving forward. Students created an orange heart board, with 215 orange hearts representing the lost lives at the Kamloops Residential School. This will be ongoing, important work that we will continue to take up as a school.
June 21 - National Indigenous Peoples Day
June 21 - 25 Aboriginal Awareness Week in Calgary
June 26 - Report Cards available for viewing on PowerSchool
June 29 - Early Dismissal at 12:15 pm - Last Day of Classes
June 30 - Appeals Day by Appointment
As announced by the provincial government on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 all students in Kindergarten to grade 12 across the province will shift to online learning beginning Friday May 7. This means that classes will be online starting this Friday, with a potential return to in school learning on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
Ethel M Johnson School will be offering online programming for students in kindergarten to grade six, as well as the Learning and Literacy program. Teachers are currently putting together plans to shift learning to an online environment. This will include a mix of whole class lessons, small group lessons, individual support, as well as independent work.
We will be working hard to provide the best opportunity for your child to access learning opportunities as consistently as possible. We have been asked to continue to update attendance records during online learning, so if your child needs to be away at any time please let your child's teacher know.
If you have any questions about your child's individual learning, please contact the appropriate teacher directly.
Please note that blogs will be temporarily suspended during online learning.
On the first Wednesday in May, Albertans are invited to wear a hat to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health. EMJ will relax our hat rules and encourage students and teachers to build understanding by wearing hats to school. Students will also participate in classroom discussions around understanding mental health and the importance of removing the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
An important part of healthy living is being able to identify emotions and regulate ones' emotions towards good mental health. During times of stress, this can become more challenging. At school, students are supported to build their vocabulary to use words to describe how they are feeling. Students learn how to use regulation strategies to 'reset'; examples of strategies we coach students to use every day include spending time outdoors, moving their body, taking a break for a drink of water or snack, and also just pausing for a short moment to take deep breaths.
Movies such as 'Inside Out' are great conversation openers you could use at home. It is important that every EMJ student has a trusted adult at school and home to turn to when they are feeling strong emotions such as being scared, sad or angry. As adults, we can help them understand what they are feeling and build their skills towards becoming resilient adults. Alberta Health offers many free workshops for parents to support children with mental health and other healthy living priorities. Additional resources for parents can be found on the Caring for Kids website and resoures for children to access can be found on the Kids Help Phone website.
Next week, we hope EMJ students proudly wear their hats to school on Wednesday to show their support of mental health and all the ways our community cares for each other!
This week EMJ students joined the world in celebrating Earth Day. It was an opportunity to renew our commitment to taking care of our world. We would like to extend a big thank you Mark E. for helping with EMJ's front garden project. The rototilling and soil delivery meant some of our grade four students could immediately build on their initial excitement around the project and start to journal some specific design ideas.
Most classes connected this important week with our School Development Plan goal around writing. Our EES students explored their senses using a marbling art technique and worked on producing a sentence connected to their individual learning goals. Our grade one students created a postcard with an acrostic poem to share their ideas about how they can take care of this wonderful place we live. Grade three created letters and poems as gifts to honor the land. Our grade six students worked collaboratively to create digital posters in support of Earth Day. Across the school, students used their creativity to reflect on and express their ideas about how they can be good environmental citizens. Some classes also shared read aloud stories such as this beautiful picture book 'Thank You, Earth' by April Sayre.
Also, a big thank you to our grade three students who took time for a schoolyard and community clean up.
Connected to Earth Day and what you might notice hopping around the community - did you know that those cute fluffy animals we see bounding through the fields are actually hares not rabbits? This is important because when their young are born, leveret's (baby hares), are quickly able to fend for themselves and live on their own in the wild. Many students often worry about the babies when they see these cute animals without a parent. Don't worry – they are okay on their own and do not need our help. We hope all of our EMJ families have a great weekend and hopefully get outside to enjoy the outdoors!
· Apr. 26 - No School - Teacher Professional Learning
· May 11 - School Council - Online - ALL parents are welcome!
· May 21 - No Classes - Teacher Professional Learning
· June 29 - Early Dismissal at 12:15 pm - Last Day of Classes
· June 30 - Appeals Day - by Appointment
Every year, the CBE must submit a balanced budget to Alberta Education by May 31. The CBE's balanced budget, as with any budget, includes inputs (where funds come from) and outputs (how funds are spent). At the CBE every dollar spent supports student learning.
Where funds come from:
- Alberta Education provides over 90% of the Calgary Board of Education's funding.
- The Calgary Board of Education also receives funding from other government departments and other sources such as fees from parents, school fundraising activities, facility rentals and investment income.
How funds are spent:
- During the budget process, the CBE maximizes the dollars available to support student learning and ensures sufficient budget resources will be available to allow the CBE to meet health, safety, infrastructure and other needs.
- The CBE receives a capped grant for system administration. For 2020-21, this amount was 3.15 per cent of all funding provided to us by Alberta Education. This video explains where CBE's money comes from, and how dollars are allocated: https://youtu.be/LxwFaNFztjg
The EMJ school budget process focuses on what is best for students and how to support students in the best possible way. Budget is directly related to school development plan priorities, while also considering input from our community and staff. For detailed information please see the presentation linked below.
Our 2020-21 School Budget
With our School Development Plan goals of Wellness and Literacy in mind, the following was established:
Teacher staffing to support class size with a focus on inclusive learning
Educational Assistants to support student success in learning and regulation, while meeting the needs of our diverse learners
Administration to support teaching and learning focusing on developing a school environment that fosters well-being for learning and academic success
Classroom materials purchased to support students in literacy, mathematics, and regulation
Expenditures also included learning materials: pencils, paper, notebooks, photocopying, and technology
Our 2021-22 School Budget:
Continued focus on literacy, numeracy, and student wellness
Decline in the number of teaching positions due to enrollment/program changes
0.6 FTE Music Program
Maintained the number of Educational Assistants for Special Education Programs
7 Noon Supervisors with Administration supporting the lunchroom
School Council will be asked to cover the costs of field trips and associated transportation, in-school learning opportunities, and residencies to reduce fees charged to parents
For further information, our School specific presentation can be found here.
We encourage all of our families to take part in the survey to have your voice heard. If you have not yet completed our budget survey, the link can be found here.
We have all asked our children the question "What did you do at school today?", only to be met with the dreaded non-answer, "nothing". As we welcomed back most of our students this week, it was a good reminder that while school staff get to see EMJ students actively engaged in learning across the school, you as parents do not have the same windows into their learning. In Alberta, teachers use Alberta Education's Programs of Study to direct what we teach in each grade. Each subject has specific learning outcomes and teachers personalize the teaching for the students in each class. Alberta Education's “My Child's Learning" parent resource provides an overview of the learning goals that make up the curriculum in each grade.
Each week EMJ teachers write a blog post that aims to show you as parents what your child learned in class that week. You can find your child's teacher blog here. You can also ask your child to show you their Google Classroom shell, which is an extension to their in-class learning. Reading about classroom learning is an opportunity to engage your child in conversation by asking specific questions and can also be used to extend their learning at home.
You may have also heard that Alberta Education has just released a draft curriculum for kindergarten to grade 6. You can read the new K-6 curriculum draft here. The proposed changes will significantly impact what and how your child learns at school. We strongly encourage all parents to read through the curriculum drafts in order to provide the province with feedback. As parents you are critical partners in helping set the direction for your child's learning and curriculum implementation. . We encourage you to share your feedback with the province on the draft K-6 curriculum here.
Alberta Education has also began mailing all Alberta Grade 4 parents a letter asking you to complete the Alberta Education Assurance survey. This survey asks you to think about your child's experiences and learning at Ethel M Johnson School. Grade 4 students completed the student version online at school this week. We appreciate the time our Grade 4 parents take to complete this in order to provide us with valuable feedback to help us measure success and plan for progress through future School Development goals. This survey closes Friday, April 23, 2021.
Upcoming Dates to Note:
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