The Week Ahead: September 21-25

September 19, 2020

From Ms. Littledale:

If anyone is able to come in and help support learners during inquiry time this week, it would be much appreciated! Support might look like supervising learners in the makerspace, helping them on the computer or the sewing machines, providing research assistance, or even playing a game with them. Having two adults in the space helps to keep learners from getting stuck or frustrated.

In addition, if anyone has board games they might be willing to lend or donate to the centre, please let us know! We are planning to use Friday afternoons as board or tabletop game time. If it is a loan, please put your name on the game box.

Tuesday afternoon will be field trip time! Jennifer (parent) has kindly offered to take the learners on a wildcrafting field trip that ties in with the changing of the seasons and our ecosystem. Please ensure that your child is dressed for the weather and that they have water bottles and snacks. We are leaving from VISII in the afternoon and will be back for 3:30. Drop-off and pick-up are at VISII, as usual. 

From the Board:

Please use the online sign-up sheet (linked from the PW-protected Parents/Guardians page) to commit to a time this week. Thanks Jennifer, Helmut, and Janelle (parents) for signing up already. We still need a parent or guardian at the following times: Tuesday 10:30-11:30, Wednesday 1-3:30, and Thursday 1-3:30. Parent/guardian support would be helpful at these times also: Monday, 1-3:30 and Friday 9:30-11:30. 

September 16 Parent/Guardian Update

September 16, 2020

This update is coming to you from Janelle (board member and parent). The first week of learning has been an adventure, with smoky air keeping the learners indoors more than they or we would like. The big, open space of VISII is particularly valuable on such days; there’s enough room for students to move about, stretch, and work out their wiggles.

In this update:

  • VISII Centre Phone Numbers
  • Individual Inquiries
  • Group Inquiries
  • Resources for Inquiries
  • Sagas Inquiry
  • Centre Hygiene Report
  • Parent/Guardian Participation Sign-up
  • Ensuring Learner Safety — Police Information Checks
  • New Resources on the Website
  • Recruitment of New Families
  • Centre Wish List

VISII Centre Phone Numbers

Mobile: 250-883-1667

Kitchen: 250-294-8397

The centre’s mobile phone is with Ms. Littledale at all times. The number is 250-883-1667 You may phone or text this number to report your child’s absence, illness, late arrival, or early pickup. 

There is a wall phone in the centre kitchen: 250-294-8397. There’s no answering machine. Your child may call you from this phone if necessary.

Individual Inquiries

Ms. Littledale reports that all the learners are settling in to their individual inquiries. I have been in the centre several times to help the two students who are pursuing a sewing inquiry in the new sewing space (currently equipped with three sewing machines, ironing board, cutting mats, fabric, thread, and ideas!). It’s great to see the students busily researching and reading, with Ms. Littledale to guide them and help them formulate questions. 

Group Inquiries

Ms. Littledale is teaching Spanish to those learners who are interested. She reports that she’s launching a birdwatching inquiry soon. Helmut (IT guru and parent) is guiding some of the learners through a Minetest and mapping inquiry, to be complemented by an inquiry into the Icelandic family sagas (guided by me).

Resources for Inquiries

The VISII website now has a landing page where we can post links to current group inquiries. You probably want to keep up with your child’s adventures and maybe learn a bit yourself to facilitate dinner-table conversations! (“How far did you get on that sod house today?”)

Sagas Inquiry

One of our learners is keen on the Icelandic family sagas and suggested we read the Ere-Dwellers (Eyrbyggja) Saga together. Helmut stepped up to offer a Minetest space where the learners could create the places of medieval Iceland. I volunteered to lead the literary side of the inquiry; at this point, my enthusiasm outweighs my knowledge, but I think that’s a good place to be at the beginning of an inquiry! I’ve made a page with information for us parents/guardians and some preliminary links for the learners: “Resources for the Ere-Dwellers Saga Inquiry.” No doubt we’ll find many more resources.

Fortunately, UVic has a long history of teaching Old Icelandic, bringing in guest speakers from Iceland (thanks to the Beck Trust), and acquiring research materials for the library. I’ve selected a number of books for learners at various levels and will leave them in the learning centre for learners to peruse there. They are signed out to my own UVic Library Card; if the books come home in your child’s knapsack, please make sure the books make their way back to VISII. I also have two wonderful colleagues who are experts in Old Icelandic (one of whom taught both me and Ms. Littledale!). I hope they will be able to visit us at the learning centre. You can expect to hear about battles, journeys, medieval politics, strong women, funny names, and Things!

Centre Hygiene Report

VISII has three one-person washrooms that are used only by VISII. These washrooms are being cleaned regularly by parents. We have a volunteer janitor coming in twice a week to do a deep clean of the entire space. There are three sinks in the learner areas, each equipped with handsoap, washable handtowels, and baskets for clean and used towels. Students are washing hands, wearing masks, and remembering to sanitize as they come into and go out of the space.

Carolyn (board member and parent) has been coming in at lunch to clean the high-touch surfaces (light switches, faucets, doorknobs, tabletops, and chairbacks). The learners are taking over the lunch-time clean as of today. If other parents/guardians are able to come in at the end of the day and do a surface clean, please let Carolyn know (admin@visii.ca) or sign up on the GoogleDoc we’ve shared with parents/guardians by email. 

Parent/Guardian Participation Sign-Up

Can you spend time in the learning space? Our big space does present one challenge, namely that there are times during the day when the learners are spread across four spaces in a big L-shape. While the spaces flow into one another and are nicely designed for the teacher to keep an eye on all the students from the bend of the L, there are times when we need an extra adult in the learning space so that Ms. Littledale can provide 1:1 attention to individual learners or work with a small group. On Mondays and Tuesdays, our distance learning teacher, Meghan, will normally be in the learning space. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, we’d like to have parents/guardians come in for two-hour blocks if/as your schedules permit. If you are able to help students with their inquiries, please do. If not, simply being in the space (cleaning surfaces, sorting books, or tapping away on your own laptop) is also helpful.

Please sign up via the GoogleSheets workbook linked from the password-protected VISII Parents page.

Ensuring Learner Safety — Police Information Checks

Note that you must arrange for a “Police Information Check — Vulnerable Sector” check to spend significant time in the learning centre or any time alone with any of the learners (e.g., driving on a field trip). You can apply for this check via the police department in your municipality. Let us know (admin@visii.ca) where you will be applying and we’ll supply you with the appropriate letter confirming your volunteer status:

New Resources on the Website

Here are some pages to bookmark in your browser:

Recruitment of New Families

As you know, VISII has a very small cohort — 9 students, one FT teacher, and one DL teacher. While this super-small cohort is lovely for all kinds of reasons, we really do need a few more families to be comfortably sustainable. Please spread the word among your friends, neighbours, and family members. Your endorsement is the best advertising of all. 

SHARE: To make it easy for you to share on social media, I’ve made a “Spread the Word” page here: https://visii.ca/spread-the-word/. There are various social media sharing links on this page.  

FLYER: On Thursday, you’ll find printed flyers in your child’s cubby. If you have a place to post them (grocery store pinboard, afterschool activity venue), please do! There’s also a downloadable version of this flyer on the “Spread the Word” page and here:

Centre Wish List

The starting of the centre comes with many small expenses that quickly add up.  If you can donate some small items to the centre it helps us immensely. Make sure that any items you want returned are carefully labelled. We have a wish list on the website as well, at https://visii.ca/visii-wish-list/. We’ll update the list on the website as requests are filled and new needs arise. Please share the page with neighbours, grandparents, and friends. 

Some items that the centre currently needs are:

  • Hand soap (pump preferred)
  • Hand towels (small face cloths are especially good for drying small hands)
  • Unscented laundry soap
  • Gloves for cleaning
  • Fabric scraps for practice sewing and bigger fabric pieces for projects
  • Scissors for cutting fabric
  • Pencil crayons
  • Storage bins with lids for kitchen staples, craft supplies, makerspace supplies (all sizes)
  • Labels
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Whiteboard erasers
  • Cups and glasses for the kitchen
  • Baking sheets for cookies
  • Roll of parchment paper for baking
  • Maps, inspirational wall posters, charts

With all good wishes for this Wednesday,

Janelle (Secretary) and Carolyn (Communications Officer)

September 2 Parent Update

Welcome to the start of a new year of learning, which we already know will be like no other year!

Drop-off and Pick-up

The learning centre 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.  If your child is going to be late or absent, please contact the VISII mobile phone (number TBA soon) as the learners will often start the day with time outside.  Although our drop-off and pick-up times are slightly different from the other day-care, after-school, and preschool programs at the Cridge, it can become busy during these times. 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. There is also the option to park on King Street or Higgins Street and walk to VISII. Note that parking on the Cridge grounds is meant to be short-term parking (15 mins for pick-up and drop-off purposes). To reduce crowding, please do not come into the centre to collect your child, but arrange a meeting place away from the building.

First Day – September 8th

Our first day of learning is Tuesday September 8th. It will be a half day starting at 12:30 and ending at 3:30. Everyone will meet in the field in front of the Cridge building. Our meeting point will be east of the gazebo, across from the bus parking spots. Please drop off your children at 12:30. If you have time, stay for a physically distanced welcome in the field. We will have some time for introductions. Then, Roy Poules, a nurse and one of the VISII parents, has volunteered to answer any questions parents might have regarding COVID-19.

COVID-19 Protocols

We have been working to set up safety protocols to keep your children safe. These protocols, based on the most recent data, are subject to change as BC learns more about COVID-19 and makes new recommendations.;

As per the BC Ministry of Education instructions:

“Daily screenings start at home. Ask these questions:

  • Does your child have the symptoms of a common cold, influenza, COVID-19, or other infectious respiratory disease?
  • Has your child been outside Canada in the last 14 days?
  • Has your child been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case or outbreak?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you must keep your child at home, self-isolate, and seek care from a health-care provider.”

We will ask anyone coming to VISII these questions before they are allowed to enter the learning space.

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

Our learning space is ideally set up to allow for a one-way flow of people through designated entrance and exit doors. Hand sanitizer will be located at the entrance to and exit from the learning centre to facilitate hand sanitizing when you are entering or leaving the learning space. 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 learning supplies below). When sharing cannot be avoided, we will encourage handwashing before and after the activity. 

For elementary and middle schools, the BC Ministry of Education has mandated that the maximum size of a learning group is 60. VISII’s learning group falls well below that maximum. Although social distancing is not required in a learning group, we will be asking the learners to wear masks or visors (VISII has enough to supply each child with one visor) when social distancing is not being observed.  Students have the option to wear masks at any time and we ask that you send at least one non-medical mask to VISII each day. We will have some masks at the centre that learners or visitors can use.

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 as well as a self assessment tool at https://bc.thrive.health  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 https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-return-to-school

Parent Participation

VISII is a parent participatory learning centre.  Ms. Littledale has developed a table of all your various expertise and will work with aligning students with parents experts and community experts as the learners’ inquiries start to take shape. We hope you will help any learners whose questions align with your interests/expertise, as your time permits.

We would also like to know if there are any parents who would be willing to come in for a mid-day cleaning of the centre (wiping of the doorknobs, sinks, flat surfaces etc.). Please write to admin@visii.ca if you are able to help out from time to time. We’ll make up a roster. Gloves and cleaning supplies will be supplied by VISII. Volunteers will be expected to wear a mask while in the learning centre for this task.

We are a community – connecting with other families

While it will be challenging this year to get together and celebrate all that is the middle-school years, we would like to facilitate communication between families by having an email/phone contact list that we will share with the other families at VISII.  If you would like to be on this list, please send the information that you would like included to admin@visii.ca (parent/guardian names, child’s name, email, phone [textable?], address). If your child has a phone number that they would like to be made available to the other children, please include it. 

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 learning with the following items, each labelled with your child’s name or initials:

  • Backpack
  • Pencil pouch 
  • Pencils and pens
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Scissors
  • A sketchbook or notebook for planning
  • Glue stick
  • 2 file folders
  • 12-inch (30-cm) ruler
  • Water bottle
  • Indoor shoes

Optional

  • Calculator
  • Coloured pencils or markers 
  • Smock or apron 
  • Safety glasses if you have them (the centre will buy non-prescription safety glasses and assign each student a pair)

VISII

Important dates 2020-2021 learning year

Dates are subject to change.  Updated information will be communicated via email

September 8 (Tuesday) First day of learning Half day (12:30 – 3:30)

October 12 (Monday) Thanksgiving (VISII centre closed)

October 23 (Friday) Pro-D day (VISII centre closed)

November 2 (Monday) Pro-D day (VISII centre closed)

November 11 (Wednesday) Remembrance Day (VISII centre closed)

November 20th (Friday) Pro-D day (VISII centre closed)

December 18 (Friday) Last day of classes before winter break

January 4 (Monday) First day back at the VISII centre

February 12 (Friday) Pro-D day (VISII centre closed)

February 15 (Monday Family Day (VISII centre closed)

March 12 (Friday) Last day before spring break

March 29 (Monday) First day of learning after spring break

April 2 (Friday) Easter Friday (VISII centre closed)

April 5 (Monday) Easter Monday (VISII centre closed)

May 14 (Friday) Pro-D day (VISII centre closed)

May 24 (Monday) Victoria Day (VISII centre closed)

June 24 (Thursday) Last day of learning at the VISII centre for the year