Newsletter: Sept. 3, 2021

September 3, 2021

Welcome to the start of a new school year, our first as an independent school!

Normal School Schedule

The school day runs from 9:30-3:30 Monday through Friday, with the exception of the holidays and Pro-D days noted at the end of this document.  

Lates and Absences

If your child is going to be late or absent, please send a text to the school’s mobile phone as soon as you can. The school’s mobile number is 250-883-1667. The teachers need this information so that they know your child is safe; if they do not hear from you, they are obligated to take time away from other students to try to contact you; we call this rule “Willem’s Rule.” (Ask the President of the Board about that story.) If your child is late on a day when the school community is leaving the school grounds for a field trip or outdoor time, the teachers will need to be in touch with you about a meeting location. 

Please also follow up by sending an email to [we have set up a dedicated email address for attendance since this newsletter went out] to comply with the Ministry requirement that we have a written record of excused absences.

Drop-off and Pick-up

Although our drop-off and pick-up times are slightly different from the other day-care, after-school, and preschool programs at the Cridge, the Cridge parking lot and driveways are busy places in the mornings and afternoons. Please be vigilant, drive slowly, and watch for children crossing the driveway from the Cridge building or from parked cars to the field in front of the building. 

Note that parking on the Cridge grounds is meant to be short-term parking (15 mins for pick-up and drop-off purposes only). As we have more families joining us this year, we would like to encourage families to use parking spaces available on King Street or Higgins Street and walk to VISII or arrange a meeting place away from the building to reduce congestion on the Cridge grounds. To reduce crowding, please do not come into the school to collect your child. The one-way flow of foot traffic into and out of the school that the Cridge put in place late last year is still in place.  For that reason we will meet the students on the field in front of the school on the first day to ensure that all new students know the appropriate routes.

First Day – September 7th

Our first day of school is Tuesday, September 7th. It will be a half day starting at 9:30 and ending at 11:30. Everyone will meet in the field in front of the Cridge building. Our meeting point will be east of the gazebo, just down the grassy slope from the bus parking spots. Please drop off your children at 9:30. If you have time, stay for a physically distanced welcome in the field. We will have some time for staff introductions and parents can continue to mingle on the field after the learners have gone into the school.

Introducing the Staff:

Simone Littledale:  We are delighted that Simone will be continuing with VISII for the 2021-2022 school year.  She has connected with the students so well and has brought such a diversity and depth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the school.  Whatever topic the children bring up she is quick to embrace it and either surprise us with her breadth of knowledge or dive into research with the learner.  Many of the learners are becoming passionate about birds and Spanish just from the enthusiasm that she brings to these subjects.  This year she is bringing her passion for clay to the school and is setting up a clay work area just outside the doors to the school.  

Meghan Carrico:  Meghan was our link to Island Discovery School, and will now be in the school twice a week as our Principal. With her 34 years of experience in innovative education, she has been an excellent guide to the Board and we are grateful that she has come along with us as we have navigated this transition from Learning Centre to Independent School.

Andrew MacLean:  Andrew was one of our Teachers on Call last year and was much liked and respected by the students.  Andrew is currently working on his Masters in Education. In addition to these other obligations, Andrew will be teaching at VISII two days a week, where he will leverage his background in sciences and his experience working within the inquiry model.

Suki Athwal:  Suki is new to VISII and brings some very important skills to the school wearing two hats, both as a teacher and as school counsellor. She is a certified BC science and math teacher, and also has broad teaching experience in many other areas. Suki will be in the school for partial days a few times a week to help with math, social integration, and various inquiry topics.

Pisco:  Though not on the payroll of the school, Pisco is an important member of the VISII community. Pisco is Ms. Littledale’s parrotlet; he comes to the school when he is in the mood and provides avian mentorship and inspiration.

COVID-19 Protocols

We are continuing the school year with the protocols that were in place at the end of the last school year. These protocols, based on the most recent data, are subject to change:

  • Masks are worn by staff and students except while eating
  • While eating social distancing of 2 meters is to be maintained
  • As per the BC Ministry of Education instructions please conduct a daily screening for Covid before sending your learner to school.  This can be done online (K-12 Health Check) or through an app (links to these apps can be found on the BC website COVID-19 safe schools – Province of British Columbia)

If your child suffers from allergies or asthma, please let the school know so that we can recognize their symptoms as those of allergies or asthma.  

Children, staff, and volunteers will also be encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day. Children have access to several sinks in the learning area and adjacent washrooms. The sinks and tap will be wiped down during the day and again at the end of the day.  We will be trying to minimize the use of shared equipment (see school supplies below). When sharing cannot be avoided, we will encourage hand washing before and after the activity. 

Recommendations for schools around COVID-19 protocols may change over time and we will send out updates to families as needed.  If you have general questions regarding COVID-19, the BC Centre of Disease Control has a lot of information on their website.  You can also contact nurses by calling 8-1-1 if any member of your household develops symptoms of COVID-19.  If you want more details of the Government’s guidelines to schools, a great deal of information can be found at COVID-19 safe schools

Nut-Free Zone

We have been asked by the Cridge to be a nut-free zone this year in order to protect other children in the building. Thank you in advance for your understanding and compliance. 

Student Supplies

In keeping with COVID-19 safety protocols, sharing of supplies will be limited. Thus, each student should come prepared to the first day of school with the following items, each labelled with your child’s name or initials:

  • Backpack
  • Pencil pouch 
  • Pencils and pens
  • Felt pens
  • Highlighter
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Scissors
  • A sketchbook or notebook for planning
  • Glue stick
  • 12-inch (30-cm) ruler
  • Geometry set
  • Water bottle
  • Personal mug to leave at school
  • Indoor shoes
  • Disposable masks for when your learner forgets their reusable ones


  • Coloured pencils
  • Smock or apron 
  • Safety glasses (if you have them) 

Additional items may be required to support your learners’ inquiries once they have selected their topics.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

After our calendar was first announced last spring, the provincial government declared September 30, 2021, a holiday for all provincial public sector employees, including public school districts.  VISII will also be respecting this day of reflection and grieving and school will not be in session. We will be conducting seminars and other activities in the days surrounding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, with the knowledge that discussions of residential schools may affect some learners quite strongly as these were children the same age as themselves, here in Canada.  We will be very sensitive to their emotional responses and if you, as parents or guardians, have any concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the educational team.   

2021-2022 Important School Dates

The calendar year for VISII will be very similar to the SD61 schedule. We’ve listed key dates below so that you can plan ahead. The dates of 2 (possibly 3) Pro-D days will be announced later, once we know the dates for training sessions our educators will be taking next year.

First day of school Tuesday, Sept 7

Pro-D day (school not in session) Monday Sept 27

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (school not in session) Thursday, Sept 30

Thanksgiving (school not in session) Monday, Oct 11

Pro-D day (school not in session) Friday Oct 22

Remembrance Day (school not in session) Thursday Nov 11

Last day before winter break Friday, Dec 17

School reopens Tuesday, Jan 4

Pro-D day (school not in session) Friday Feb 18

Family Day (school not in session) Monday, Feb 21

Last Day before spring break Friday, March. 18

School reopens Monday, April 4

Good Friday (school not in session) Friday, April 15

Easter Monday (school not in session) Monday, April 18

Pro-D day (school not in session) Friday May 20

Victoria Day (school not in session) Monday, May 23

Last day of school for students Thursday, June 23

Published by VISII

Vancouver Island School of Innovation and Inquiry

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