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Alberta Home Education Association

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Step 2: Update to Public Health Measures

Accessing Off-Site Facilities A door has opened... accessing off-site facilities.

AHEA continues to work with the Alberta Department of Education, voicing concerns and sharing examples of issues faced in the home education community. They are the ones interacting directly with Alberta Health Services on behalf of students across the province. Please note the wording is 'home education co-ops' and/or 'supportive group learning environments.'   You may wish to review prior articles on this blog for helpful clarification and action items. AHEA's work continues unabated and your joint efforts and action assist us greatly. 

Here is the latest update from the Deputy Minister of Education for your review...

"Step 2 of Alberta's four-step framework to carefully ease COVID-19 restrictions took effect on March 1. The changes to public health measures included the authorization of low-intensity indoor fitness activities and the reopening of libraries with restrictions.

On March 8, 2021, CMOH Order 05-2021 was signed to amend CMOH Order 04-2021. Both orders provide further clarity for local facilities to support student learning, and eases a number of restrictions for activities permitted under Steps 1 and 2 on The Path Forward for Albertans. For education, the new Order does not change the ability for school authorities and home education co-ops/supportive group learning environments outside of homes to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) for physical education or performance/performance arts programs.

In addition, section 82.7 of CMOH Order 05-2021 provides home education co-ops/supportive group learning environments with the ability to meet in approved off-site facilities for an activity that is not curriculum based, but related to youth development.

As a reminder, in addition to monitoring hospitalizations, Alberta's government will also be monitoring other metrics, including case numbers, growth rate and the impacts of COVID-19 variants, to guide any decisions regarding the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.

Joint home education co-op activities/supportive group learning environments outside of their homes must continue to adhere to the following health measures that also apply to schools.

  • Parents and students engaging in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their homes must use the appropriate Alberta Health Daily Checklist and adhere to recommendations of the Zone Medical Officer of Health or designate, including having a responsible adult within each cohort to identify close contacts should there be a case of COVID-19 identified within the cohort.
  • Parents and students choosing to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their homes, (e.g., community hall or rental facility) will be considered a cohort and must follow the cohorting guidance in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.
  • Parents and students 10 years of age and older (Grades 4 and older) who choose to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their home must wear a non-medical face mask in accordance with the masking requirements in school (CMOH Order 33-2020).
  • Parents are required to develop procedures outlining hand hygiene requirements and follow enhanced cleaning, disinfecting guidance in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.
  • Parents and students must follow the physical distancing guidelines in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.

Please note that cohorts should be maintained for learning based on outdoor play, recess and outdoor learning activities. Indoor and outdoor learning activities must take place in facilities only and not in homes as the indoor and outdoor social gatherings and performance activities restrictions remain in place.

The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."

REMINDER: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best.

Help US Help YOU & Support AHEA Today!
AHEA works hard year-round to advocate for home education in Alberta. We are grateful to be able to speak to issues like this in a constructive way to government on your behalf. Your support of our organization allows us to focus on the issues that we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.

Explore our website here and make financial contributions here.

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Home Educators Accessing Off-Site Facilities

Accessing Off-Site Facilities A door has opened... accessing off-site facilities.

AHEA was notified today of further changes to freedoms that home educating families have under the current guidelines. We continue to work with the Department of Education on your behalf. We are all functioning under the Department of Health's oversight in this matter.

The health orders can be difficult to follow and context is critical. I am pleased to note that the previous definition of 'school' in CMOH Order 42-2020 Sec. 33 (c) (i), which specifically excluded home education, has been amended. Today's CMOH Order 02-2021 Sec. 55 (b) and (c) corrects the misconception that home education and the children are 'social gatherings,' not learning environments and students as well. While AHEA prefers to see home education noted as being a unique educational model in most circumstances, it is being broadly associated with other educational models for clarity here. This is significant because we can now ensure that you are able to read the Orders as they apply to 'schools' as distinct from 'the public' and know that they apply to you. Items covered in our last advisory remain in place (like cohorting for recess) unless specifically changed.

The Key is Cohorting Groups

When we are interacting as a cohort group, like a classroom that exceeds 10 students, we are able to take certain actions that are not permissible for the general public. This means that if you are able to maintain your learning bubble, not intermingling with the public, you can be in the places that are prohibited under Appendix A Sections 1-3 for the purposes of your educational learning/activities. Some discretion will be required of course, but a business that is closed to the public that has space you could utilize may be open to your creative educational use. As long as you are able to maintain your cohorting group and not be mingling with the public, you are allowed to book and use facilities. If you note a school can be in a facility, you may as well.

The Deputy Minister helpfully advised of the changes to public health measures for education relate to indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance activities, and provides additional clarity on their application to home education. You may quote this in your interactions with facilities/businesses or AHS staff as needed:

"School authorities and home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments outside of homes will now have the flexibility to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) where access is limited to home students and parents from home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments. Activities are split into two distinct categories:

Home education or course-based activities

Physical education or performance/performance arts programs that are taking place in off-site facilities (e.g. curling rinks, skating rinks, community halls, auditoriums, community theatres, museums and galleries) where students remain in their cohort. These activities must follow all health protocols in place since the beginning of the school year.

Non-home education or course-based group physical activities including athletics

Extra-curricular activities where students are mixing with other students who are not part of their regular cohort. Restrictions on these activities are:

  • A maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants, can participate.
  • All participants must maintain physical distancing from each other at all times.
  • Participants must be masked at all times, except when engaged in the physical activity.
  • Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
  • There must be limited access to change rooms, including for accelerated and strictly distanced arrival and departure, for emergencies and for washroom use.

The complete list of approved off-site facilities is provided in sections 1, 2 and 3 of Appendix A of CMOH Order 02-2021 CMOH Order 02-2021 .

Additional information on these changes can be found within the new CMOH Order 02-2021. Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.

Please note that the health measures for joint home education co-op activities / supportive group learning environments outside of their homes previously articulated must continue to be adhered to.

The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."

AHEA NOTES: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best. 

Help US Help YOU & Support AHEA Today!
AHEA works hard year-round to advocate for home education in Alberta. We are grateful to be able to speak to issues like this in a constructive way to government on your behalf. Your support of our organization allows us to focus on the issues that we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.
Explore our website here and make financial contributions here.

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Welcome to the Web

Welcome to the Web

Alberta Education's Home Education webpage has been updated in response to AHEA's feedback. Home educators should find the refreshed information reflective of the current options available to them. AHEA has been pleased to collaborate with the Alberta Department of Education to ensure that families starting to consider home education will have the clarity of content they need, provided in a welcoming expression that reflects our community. Stay tuned for an update on the Home Education Handbook this fall!

Please make sure to refer new home educators to AHEA's own website for more helpful information and to stay up-to-date on the advocacy work that AHEA does year-round on their behalf. They will also want to be informed about future events like the annual AHEA Convention, looked forward to by families from across the province, with inspiring speakers and a large exhibit hall to browse.

AHEA is a not-for-profit organization that appreciates the support of the community.
Donations to AHEA can be made here

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Our Count Runneth Over

20.09.17.Our-Count-Runneth-Over

September is upon us all with the 'Bang!' of a starting gun in a marathon! Students are refocusing on their studies, moms and dads are re-calibrating their days for fall activities and AHEA continues in its multiple pursuits on your behalf. Let's look at some of the challenges we are currently facing, foresee and the solutions that we are working for.

We must first note that AHEA is blessed to have so many veteran home educators amongst us. A multitude of the parents who are new to home educating already know or have been in touch with others who know home education intimately, and that it is a wonderful testimony to the synergy in the home education community. AHEA works to support the efforts of our community as many of you reach out and open your homes and hearts to those who are finally taking that step or have considered and made the decision in a very short time. An abundance of resources and information can be gleaned from the AHEA website or our AHEA Facebook page. You also can subscribe in the right-hand column on the Political Updates page to receive updates directly to your mailbox. Keep checking for news on the upcoming April 8-10, 2021 AHEA Convention here.

Many associate and independent associate school boards that provide supervision to home educators have been advising that their numbers and staff have doubled in size, if not more. Taking on new families and students have found a very competitive market in the last couple of months. Last year home education was 1% of education stats in Alberta, so we all anticipate with excitement the September 30th Count Day figures, but we realize that is not the end of the story.

AHEA has been advocating for several months with the Minister and the Education Department as a whole to work on a plan to anticipate the potential capacity and demand issues for home education in the current environment. We are so pleased that home education will see so many new families joining us and want to ensure that even more families continue to have the choice to move to home education during the rest of the year even if they receive no funding due to moving after September 30th. While the home education community has for years adopted this type of family with no qualms and just a gracious eye to the future of home education, this seems unlikely to be as manageable or simple this year. Home education must be a viable option year-round!

Many changes and exceptions have been granted the other educational models due to the need to be flexible this year, including the fact that additional funds have been flowing to ease and accommodate the unusual needs and situations. While AHEA does not typically ask for extra funding, this may be a year where it is necessary to look at some compensation mid-year for associate boards to continue onboarding anyone changing their educational decision during the year as they are being offered quarterly choices in the public system. AHEA not only wants families to be able to start home educating if they decide to opt out of the public system, but we want to ensure that they have the choice to start with an ideologically aligned supervising authority who will support them in the ways that they may need.

Of course, this fall also brought in the Notification Only, No Funding (NONF) option, effective September 1, 2020. AHEA was pleased to see the fruition of its advocacy and the implementation of the unsupervised option. The new Parents for Choice in Education Executive Director, Jeff Park, correctly notes in their last article that NONF is a huge win and Alberta is now the best place to home educate in North America due to the variety of choices! AHEA advocates for something that money cannot buy – the freedom of parents to make the best choices for their child.

Now that the option itself has been made a reality, it is time for us to work on honing the verbiage around it in the recently released and updated Home Education Regulations. There was so much activity this fall that sufficient attention to the wording of the regulations around this option within the department may have overlooked important clarifications. However, AHEA had already started addressing this and will continue to do so, along with other Alberta partners in education like Parents for Choice in Education, who concur that while checks and balances are to be expected, there is room and a need to refine the current regulations.

Overall, it's been an exceptional year of progress for the provincial advocacy work of AHEA, and we look forward to continuing to interact with the government on behalf of home education families who highly value their ability to home educate and the freedom to deliver a customized program for their children. One of the items that AHEA has already started pursuing is the funding for special needs children who are home educated. More information will be coming out on this as work progresses and as we collect information from our families.

            Watch for upcoming opportunities to attend
AHEA 2020 Fall Talks – How Our Work and Future Affect You!!

Consider supporting AHEA – Working for YOU! 

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Our New Minister of Education

Adriana LaGrange - AB Minister of Education

Jason Kenney's choice for Education Minister was greatly anticipated since the news that the people of Alberta elected a UCP majority government. Tuesday's revelation that this post was going to be filled by Adriana LaGrange, a MLA from Red Deer, was greeted with enthusiastic support by the members of the home education community. As a mother of seven children, which include a set of identical twins, and grandmother of three, Minister LaGrange has a strong connection to family that our home education community can relate to. She is also a role model to young ladies as the second female Education Minister of Alberta. The passion and strength she has already demonstrated in her work as a Trustee of the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division and as the President of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association, confirm she is someone who is a seasoned defender of choice and parental rights. These shared foundations give us a common base to work and collaborate from.  

AHEA looks forward to working with Minister LaGrange in her new role and congratulates her on her appointment!

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Cron Job Starts