We hope you are enjoying the last weekend before the return to school. As you know, the Ministry of Education has issued some enhanced COVID-19 protocols during the Omicron phase of the pandemic and the staff has spent the last week ensuring that we are prepared for what the next few months may bring. The Board has also reviewed and updated our Communicable Disease Plan.
While the small size of the school already offers some protection from communicable diseases, your children will notice some changes when they arrive on Monday.
- Before they enter the school they will notice a table next to the door. We will have 3 layered masks on that table and hand sanitizer. If your child needs a mask on before entering the school, they may take one from the table. We still encourage families to provide their own, washable masks. 3 layered masks are now recommended by the government.
- When students enter the school, the staff will remind them to wash their hands. We will talk to them about doing this on the first day of school, but we would appreciate it if you could mention that it is important for them to wash their hands when they arrive and when they leave the school, to reduce the risk of viral transmission from one location to the other.
- The tables are mostly removed from the main seminar room.
- The seminars will now be held in the makerspace, in the area formerly filled by the blocks.
- The blocks can no longer be used as a play area and have been removed either to storage or scattered throughout the school as individual pods where students can hang out individually.
- We ask that parents do their best to remain outside of the school. We understand that some days may be more emotional for your child and there may be days that you do need to come in to support them, but in general we would appreciate it if you could say good-bye outside the school. If you need to drop off forgotten items later, put them on the table outside the door. If you are picking up your child early, please let the staff know, by texting or calling the school phone (250-883-1667) so they can have your child ready. You can knock on the door to alert staff that you have arrived and your child will be sent out.
- We will be asking students to wipe down the kitchen area (counters, microwave touch pad, etc.) if they prepare lunches or snacks.
- Please continue to use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address to let us know when and why your child will be away from school. The “why” is important because we need to report to the health authority if we notice a cluster of absences due to illness.
How parents can help to make our school as safe as possible for all members of the community
- Do the daily health check before sending their child to school. DO NOT send a sick child to school.
- Please send your child to school with a three-layered mask. We will have some on hand for days when they are lost or forgotten or if you only have two-layered masks at this time.
- We have been using face cloths as hand towels. With the expected increase in hand washing, we will need more. If you have face cloths that you are not using, please consider donating them to the school.
- Please let us know if you have appropriate bandwidth to be able to conduct Zoom lessons at home (in case your child needs to stay home or we need to close the school temporarily due to staffing shortages).
What if there is Illness in the school?
If there is a confirmed case of COVID in the school we will notify you, but will not identify the person who is ill out of respect for their privacy. We will also let you know if your child is a close contact. The Island Health Authority will give guidance to the school about next steps.
If a child becomes ill during the day, they will be moved to the office to await pick-up and their desk area will be sanitized. The office will be off limits for the remainder of the school day and will be thoroughly cleaned that evening.
If teachers are sick but have mild symptoms, they can ZOOM into the school to give virtual seminars so that instruction can continue without contact. We have also expanded our teacher-on-call list and will continue to reach out in the hopes that we will not become short-staffed. It is possible that we will become so short on staff that we will not be able to provide the required level of instruction and supervision and will need to close the school (functional closure). It’s important to note that VISII may not know if they have enough staff until that same morning that the school day begins. For that reason, families are asked to check their email each morning for messages from the school, as it is possible they will receive a message impacting that school day.
The province of British Columbia has stated that it has exceeded its contract tracing ability due to the Omicron’s short incubation period, higher transmission rates, and testing compacities having been reached. Schools have been asked to relay any unusual trends in absenteeism to the local health authority. The Island Health Authority will investigate these clusters and could recommend a school closure (health closure), and we would move to remote/online learning. Students would be able to use their computers from school to ensure they are able to join for seminars and conduct one-on-one meetings with the teachers.
Many people may not be able to get tested so will not know for certain whether they have COVID. Nurses at 8-1-1 can help assess whether you need to be tested and for how long you should isolate. If your child needs to isolate, we can arrange for their laptop to go home along with other materials that may be required for remote learning.
First day back
On the first day back, we will be reviewing proper hand hygiene and how to properly wear a mask to protect yourself and others. We will let learners know of new expectations around usage of the blocks, cleaning the kitchen after use, and avoiding congestion in the area of the cubbies. We will also be letting the learners know what an online school would look like. We hope it does not get to that point, but it is important for learners to know that we have a plan that includes not only the seminars and their inquiries but also social time with their school peers.