Reston is the first school in Fort La Bosse School Division to receive the news of positive test results for COVID-19. For the Fort La Bosse School Division, Superintendent Barry Pitz confirmed his office and the school had been informed of the two positive tests related to Reston School. The school closed for a day and was “up and running by the next day, Friday.”
A letter to parents, dated Nov. 4, and signed by the Prairie Mountain Health Medical Officer, Dr. Mahmoud Khodaveisi indicates that two students tested positive. The cases were in the school on Oct. 26, Oct. 29 and Oct. 30.
Information from PMH said public health advised the closure of the school on Thursday, Nov. 5. for one day “in order to give health officials time to assess the overall situation and begin contact tracing/review of close contacts.”
Health officials said the students did not contract the virus from school and the risk of transmission within the school was low.
Within five days of the notice, PMH set up a community test site for one day, last Tuesday, in the community of Reston.
Pitz said of the situation, “COVID is here. We are prepared, we have, on our website, our plan at the different response levels.”
It’s a plan that has evolved even in the last couple of weeks. “We follow our plan. We have moved to from a Yellow response level to Orange. We were prepared for the transition.” Since the interview, Manitoba has moved to Restricted, Red response level.
Of note, Dr. Brent Roussin said no changes will be made to child-care services or to K to Gr. 12 education delivery at this time. He said the province has not seen widespread transmission among children, students and staff.
FLB school measures are to ensure the students can maintain the two-metre distance from each other, in most schools Gr. 9 – 12 are attending every other day. Some students attend Monday, while other students attend Tuesday etc. Virden Collegiate is doing that.
“This is synchronized learning where students do their work at home and at school, all under the teacher’s direction,” said Pitz.
However, Reston School has sufficient room so that they can ‘distance’ with full attendance at the high school level. Some other schools in the division also have room for all classes every day.
At present, Grades K – 8 throughout the division have the option of a combination of in-class and at home instruction through their classroom teacher. The superintendent says that across the division, 10 -15 per cent of families have taken that option in early and middle years education. Pitz stresses that at home learning is a temporary measure and is expected to change when the response moves back to yellow.
Music education - singing and wind instruments are only permitted outside, “otherwise it continues to be theory in the classroom.”
PhysEd is outdoors. “A lot of our gymnasiums have been converted into classrooms… we utilize existing space. Music rooms, band rooms, gyms, multipurpose, those spaces we convert them into classrooms to ensure two metres of distancing. We can really spread them (students) out once we start using those spaces.”
Extras like filing cabinets, reading centres and meeting areas are gone. “We’ve also removed all excess furniture in classrooms to spread the kids out as much as possible to achieve that two meters of distance.”
Superintendent Pitz said public health officials provide the guidance for self-isolating, as in the case of those who tested positive. “The administration and the school team have done an outstanding job and I’ve been really impressed with public health’s response,” he said.