2022-01-09; Newsletter

Hello families

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 attendance@visii.ca 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.

Newsletter, October 31, 2021

Happy Hallowe’en to you all! 

School Inspection

As you know, we had our school inspection last week and the feedback we received was very positive. Our inspector was exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful which made the whole process seem more like a collaboration than an inspection. One item that we know we have to address is that we need to collect more detailed information about parents’ lawful presence in Canada than a public school does. To that end, we sent out a form on Thursday. Thank you to everyone who has already returned the form and supporting documents. If you have any questions regarding this form, please contact admin@visii.ca

Upcoming Statutory Holiday

The school will be closed on November 11 for Remembrance Day.

Upcoming Pro-D days

We have tried for the most part to follow the same Pro-D days as SD61. However, please be aware, we are not having a Pro-D on November 12. Instead, we will be having a Pro-D on January 24 so that some members of the staff can take part in ERASE training (Expect Respect and A Safe Education). If you want more information on ERASE, check out the government website.

Half-days for parent teacher interviews

In the inquiry model, report cards are different from the ones that many of you have seen in the public school system. VISII looks at your child’s competencies as they develop over the course of the year. The educational team will conduct parent-teacher interviews to walk you through your learner’s progress. To accommodate the time required for these conversations, we will have one half day at the end of each term. The first of these will be on December 1. More information about the parent-teacher interviews will be sent out in a later email.

Family handbook

To help keep all these dates clear, we have published our revised school calendar online as part of our Family Handbook. This new handbook is meant to have all the pertinent information you might need in one place. We would appreciate feedback if there is information that you would like to see included in next year’s edition.

Password-Protected Area of Website for Guardians/Responsible Adults

On the VISII website, you’ll find a password protected area for parents, guardians, and adults with responsibility for a VISII learner. The teachers’ email addresses are posted in this area. We also expect to post some information about inquiries that are taking place at the school. Contact admin@visii.ca or secretary@visii.ca for the password.

Seesaw

We hope that you have all taken the time to look at the posts that are being made to Seesaw. This online, secure tool offers a visual way for you to track what your learner is doing and to see the interactions and activities taking place in the school.

AGM

We would like to remind everyone that the AGM for the Epiphyte Educational Society (EES), the authority that governs VISII, will occur via Zoom on Wednesday, November 10, at 7pm. To get the Zoom link, contact Board Secretary Janelle Jenstad at secretary@visii.ca

Membership in the Society

Anyone may attend the AGM. However, in order to stand for office, to vote on motions, or to vote in elections, you must be a Member in good standing. To apply for membership, fill in the EES Membership Application.  Membership costs $5 per year per person (not household). Send $5 by e-transfer to treasurer@visii.ca

Elections

All members of the founding board, except Carolyn Hissen, are willing to serve out the second year of their two-year terms. Carolyn is stepping down from her position as Member at Large and seeking election as Vice President. She will continue to function as Communications Officer for the school.

We would like to have at least one Member at Large in addition to Deborah van der Linde. Carolyn’s resignation leaves open a position for one Member at Large. We can have a third Member at Large if there is interest and goodwill. If you would like more information about the Board, please contact any of the board members.

If you are interested in joining the Board, please be aware that the EES is a working board. We meet at least biweekly all year, and weekly in busy months (August, September, October, and June). While much work has already been done to get the school started, we are still in the start-up stage for an independent school. The inspector has given us a list of tasks, plus recommendations for policies that we ought to have in place. We have been given the heads up that in future inspections the government is going to be looking for strategic planning documentation. On the plus side, the current board has been able to work very collaboratively, and, despite the heavy workload involved in a start-up, we have all had a lot of fun.

Nominations

Nominations will be made at the Board meeting. 

EES Committees

If you don’t want to be on the Board, we are also seeking people who are interested in serving on these committees:

  • Finance Committee
  • HR Committee
  • Emergency Planning Committee

Other Business

In addition to electing board members, we will conduct a few points of business, including but not limited to the following: 

  • Reports
  • Changing the official address of the society to be that of the school.
  • Change the official email address of the society to be president@visii.ca

School Needs

The school needs sewing supplies, in particular fabric (cotton is preferred) cotton thread, cotton-polyester blend thread, and yarn (for crocheting and knitting). If you are able to collect from family members, friends, or neighbours, please thank them for us. Supplies may be sent to school with your learner.

— Carolyn Hissen, Communications Officer, VISII

— Janelle Jenstad, Secretary, EES

Newsletter, October 9, 2021

The Week Ahead

  • Monday, October 11 is Thanksgiving Monday. School is not in session. 
  • Wednesday October 13 is a Ministry of Education training day for our staff. School is not in session.

Notice of Upcoming AGM of the Epiphyte Educational Society

The Epiphyte Educational Society, the authority governing VISII, is holding its AGM via Zoom on Wednesday November 10th at 7pm.  All parents, guardians and interested parties are welcome to attend.  Please contact Janelle Jenstad (secretary@visii.ca) to receive the Zoom link.  The list of current board members is posted on the school’s website (https://visii.ca/people/ees/).  We will share further information about open positions and nominations no later than two weeks prior to the AGM.

Payment for the Rattle Workshop

If you have not paid for the rattle workshop and are not able to do so, please let one of the teachers know so that the Board can cover your costs. 

Attendance Form

We have created a simple attendance form for you to complete if your child is absent. You may fill it out in advance if you know that your child will be absent. You may also fill it out on the day of your child’s absence or shortly thereafter. Your child’s name, the date, and the reason for their absence — the data required by the Ministry of Education — will go directly to attendance@visii.ca. There’s a link to the attendance form from the password-protected parents’ page on the VISII website: https://visii.ca/visii-parents/.

VISII is Hiring! The Board is currently advertising for an Educational Assistant (.5 to 1 FTE) and/or a Teacher (.2 to .5 FTE). Please spread the word if you know qualified people who would be a good fit for our inquiry learning model. The advertisements are posted on VISII’s Opportunities page: https://visii.ca/opportunities/.

Newsletter, September 26, 2021

September 26, 2021

The month of September always seems to fly by! As we approach October we want to remind everyone of a few important dates coming in the following month, a fun opportunity for our students, and an email change.

Important dates (new Pro-D day in bold)

Monday September 27 – Professional development day (school is not in session)

Wednesday September 29 – Orange shirt day at VISII

Thursday September 30 – National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (school is not in session)

Monday October 4 – Rattle-making workshop 

Thursday October 7 – Rattle-making workshop

Monday October 11 – Thanksgiving (school is not in session)

Wednesday October 13 – Ministry training day for our staff (school is not in session)

Friday October 22 – Professional development day (school is not in session)

Orange shirt day

September 30th has been Orange Shirt day in Canada since 2013 (https://www.orangeshirtday.org/). This year, for the first time, September 30 will be recognized as a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. If your learner would like to wear an orange shirt on Wednesday September 29th to honour the survivors of residential schools, we invite and encourage them to do so. 

Rattle-making workshop

There is a rattle-making workshop led by Jay Havens on the mornings of October 4th and 7th. Jay Havens is a 2Spirit educator and artist from the Haudenosaunee-Mohawk nation.  If you would like more information about this remote workshop, please see the website: https://www.axistheatre.com/all-ages-workshops

The cost of this workshop is $25/student. We are asking parents/guardians to pay for the workshop. However, no child will be excluded; if this amount is onerous, please do not feel that you must pay.  If you are able to pay a bit more to subsidise this workshop for other students, please consider doing so.  Please send payments by e-transfer to treasurer@visii.ca with a note that it is for the rattle-making workshop.

New Email for e-transfers of tuition payments

If you are paying on a monthly basis, we would now prefer that the e-transfers went to treasurer@visii.ca.  The next payment is due September 30. We have already received some payments for this month through admin@visii.ca; that email continues to be functional for the purposes of e-transfers.

Attendance 

If your child is going to be away from school, please use the new attendance form on the website which will go live in the coming week. Until then you can send an email to attendance@visii.ca to report a child’s absence or early pick-up. The attendance@visii.ca email will continue to be a way to report a child’s absence after the website form is posted.  As per the ministry regulations, any absences that are not reported to the school will be recorded as unexcused absences on your child’s report card. Additionally, as student’s earn more independence, specifically commuting to school alone, a message from the parents/guardians to inform the school that their child will be away spares the education team from worrying about your child’s safety when they don’t show up at the start of the school day.

IEP Team

The Board is pleased to report that our superb educational team is being supported in the preparation of IEPs and submission of supporting documentation by two top-notch experts. Marine McDonnell, our school psychologist, is new to VISII; she has extensive experience with psychoeducational assessments and psychometrics and is helping our education team help you (our families) gather the right documentation to give your children the best possible support. Amy Caesar, who worked with many of our learners last year as well,  is helping with the writing of IEPs and developing support plans. 

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 admin@visii.ca attendance@visii.ca [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

Optional:

  • 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

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