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Superintendent Update - April 12

I know that many of you will join me in a sense of relief that spring has arrived.  Our schools are once again filled with the excitement and energy that occurs as students realize that summer is only a few short months away.  This excitement is only compounded by the realization that we are, hopefully, nearing the end of COVID-19.

This update is being provided from my home as I've been identified as a close contact.  A shared experience with many students and staff across Foothills School Division.  Self-isolation is never easy and I understand how disruptive and difficult the experience can be to our FSD families.  The next few weeks will be challenging, Alberta is once again seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases across the province which are impacting our schools.  We would ask that our families and staff teams continue to support the difficult decisions we may need to make as we respond to the pandemic.

I’d like to take a moment to pause and express my thanks.  As I reflect on what we’ve accomplished these past months one thing remains clear, it would not have been possible without you.  I appreciate the ongoing support of the entire Foothills school community and staff team as we have navigated these uncertain times together.

I remain committed to ensuring you have timely and accurate information so you can continue to make decisions for your family.  Allow me to share a few pieces of news that are important to our schools and our students:


COVID-19 Response

Foothills School Division has begun preparing for a full return to normal operations in September 2021.  At a recent Town Hall, a Medical Officer of Health informed us that public health restrictions may be lifted over the summer as Albertans continue to receive their vaccines.  Although there are many unknowns, I can assure you that FSD will continue to follow all provincial health guidance.  We will communicate any significant changes to school restrictions although all updates can be found on our website and within the FSD Relaunch Handbook.


School Renewal

We have heard from our students, families, and staff that well-being and mental health needs to be priority for Foothills.  I agree.  We have launched a School Renewal Committee consisting of division leadership, school principals, teachers, support staff, school councils, local businesses, and the community.  Families and our FSD Team can expect to receive an invitation in the coming weeks to provide their feedback on this important work.  Our collective efforts will be directed to ensuring all members of our school community know where they can go to ask for help and how we can support them.


Programs

A common theme throughout the past year has been adaptability and innovation.  We have also heard from families that they require greater flexibility and more learning options.  Beginning in 2021 we will be providing you with both:

  • Full-Time Kindergarten - currently available in 4 schools across the Division, this program will allow students to participate in early learning, led by a certified and experienced kindergarten teacher, each day from Monday through Friday.
  • HUB@Home - Access to our online school will continue.  HUB@Home offers online programming from Grades 1 to 12 and is designed for students who are interested in learning from home, need greater flexibility in pacing, when they access their learning, and where they learn.
  • Nature-Based Learning - this new program uses nature and our surrounding communities to develop strong, resilient, and engaged learners who have a sense of place and the confidence to lead in their communities and the world.
  • Summer School - fully online summer school opportunities are available for Grade 10-12 students.  A variety of courses are available to help our high school students catch up, keep up, or get ahead with their learning.


Engagements

Your feedback has been critical to our success this year.  We want to continue the conversation.  Your voice is important to us and helps guide our decisions.

  • Vision 2034 - We want to know what FSD should start, stop, or continue doing?  There are a few days left to provide your input and help shape our budget, education plans, and strategic plans for future years.
  • School Renewal - As previously mentioned, we’ll be providing an opportunity this spring for FSD families to submit feedback, ask questions, and let us know how we can better support your family in the 2021-22 school year.


Curriculum

The provincial government recently unveiled a new draft K-6 curriculum to the public for feedback.  I know many families have expressed their concerns to Foothills School Division regarding the curriculum and the pilot process.

I will be meeting with our Board of Trustees and Executive Team this week to decide how we can best serve our Foothills families in addressing these concerns.  We feel an approach that is constructive and allows our voice to be heard may lead to more effective change.

As parents, you can also participate in the provincial feedback process. If you have comments about the draft curriculum it is important you provide it to Alberta Education by following this link.


Thank you once again for your support and partnership with Foothills School Division.  If you have any questions you are welcome to contact your teacher, school, or my office.  We remain proud to serve our community.

Chris Fuzessy
Superintendent of Schools