It’s almost time for school

SD83 staff are eager to welcome our students and their families back for the 2021-22 school year. While much has changed in our province over the past year, SD83 remains committed to ensuring the safety of our students, staff and school communities by providing safe learning and working environments.

“I am personally very excited to join SD83 as Superintendent. I know that as we enter into a new year of learning, our district remains committed to our mission of engaging all students in meaningful and relevant learning experiences that develop their knowledge, skills, attitudes, creativity and the pursuit of personal success,” comments Superintendent of Schools Donna Kriger.

“Though COVID-19 is still posing challenges for all of us, we remain focussed on the possibilities and opportunities that the 2021-22 school year holds. As we have done throughout the pandemic, our schools will continue to adhere to the Provincial Health Officer’s (PHO) guidance. Our plan will be updated and changed based on regional requirements from Interior Health, the Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Education.”

Registration for those brand new to SD83 begins today (please also ensure you register your child for the school bus if you live in a bus route area at 250-832-9415). High school students are encouraged to register as soon as possible so that timetabling can be completed. The first day of school is Tuesday, September 7. School will be dismissed three hours earlier than usual on this first day.

Here is a brief summary of our return to school plan. The complete plan will be posted on the SD83 website later this week.

Parents/guardians play an essential role in supporting our schools by keeping their children home when sick. Before leaving home, staff, students and visitors should monitor for any symptoms daily using the B.C. Health Check (the health check and app for your smart phone can be found here).

Family Day weekend fun challenge!

SD83 is inviting all students and families to participate in P.L.A.Y Shuswap’s Family Day PLAY Challenge February 12-15th, 2021.

SD83 Healthy Schools Co-ordinator Laura Paiement encourages all SD83 families to join in the multi-community activity challenge that promotes, physical literacy, family fun, and being outdoors. This challenge is being sponsored by SD83, Salmon Arm Recreation, Enderby Recreation Services, Sicamous Recreation and P.L.A.Y Shuswap.

“We are encouraging each family/household group to complete as many challenges as they can.  After completing each challenge, they are to send in a photo to playshuswap@gmail.com or to the P.L.A.Y Shuswap Facebook page.  Each submission earns them an entry into great local/community prizes.  Along with the participation prizes, each community will have a grand prize draw for families/households that complete all 10 activities,” explains Paiement.

P.L.A.Y Shuswap is a group of stakeholders from SD83, Sicamous, Salmon Arm and Enderby Recreation Departments, local sport organizations and Interior Health.  We have come together to promote Physical Literacy in the Shuswap.

 “Physical Literacy is the gateway to both participation and excellence in physical activity and sport.  When you have the foundation of skills, motivation, and confidence you will be more likely to be active for life,“ she adds.

This event is made possible thanks to the support of the BC Government BC Family Day grants.

Click here to download pdf poster of Family Day P.L.A.Y Challenge

New safety guidelines announced

Enhanced safety measures and the plans for the second installment of the previously announced federal funding were outlined by Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, to continue to strengthen health and safety plans in K-12 schools to help keep students, teachers and staff safe during the pandemic.

School District No. 83 Superintendent of Schools Peter Jory comments that SD83 will now be updating safety plans and practices to meet the new requirements. He said some of the just announced measures will be in place immediately, while some will take a little more time to implement. “These changes have come about as a result of the learning that has taken place over the last six months, and will build on our current safety measures and make them stronger,” he added.

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The announcements include stronger requirements for mask wearing for middle, and secondary students as well as staff, strengthened guidelines for physical education and music classes, a rapid response team in each health authority to help if there is a significant exposure/outbreak at a school, updated safety plans to be implemented at each school, and a health-checker app to support daily screening.

The new safety guidelines include that all middle and secondary students and K-12 staff will now be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, including when they are with their learning groups. The only exceptions are when:
‡ • sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom;
‡ • there is a barrier in place; or
‡ • they are eating or drinking.

Prior to these changes, masks were required for middle and secondary students and all K-12 staff in high-traffic areas, like hallways, school buses, and outside of classrooms or learning groups when they could not safely distance from others.

For elementary students, wearing masks indoors remains a personal choice. These updates are part of ongoing work of the provincial education steering committee and are in alignment with provincial health updates. Updated guidelines for the child care sector will be made available in the coming week.

Guidelines have also been strengthened for physical education and music classes. High intensity physical activities are to be held outside as much as possible. Shared equipment or items, such as weight machines, treadmills or musical instruments, can be used only if they are cleaned between use, compliant with strict school sanitization guidelines. Students using equipment or playing instruments should also be spaced at least two metres apart and masks are to be used when singing.

Strengthened health and safety guidelines also include these updates:

  • Activities that include prolonged physical contact should not be a part of physical education or any other classroom learning. For example, activities like tag or touch football are lower risk, since students may only come into contact with each other briefly, whereas activities like wrestling or partner dancing should be avoided.
  • All K-12 staff are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering when they are in a classroom and they are away from their individual desk or workstation.
  • Staff should be assigned to one learning group whenever possible. Staff interacting without a transparent barrier and with more than one learning group, or with students in more than one school, are to practice physical distancing.
  • Staff must practice physical distancing and wear non-medical masks for any face-to-face meetings or interactions, including in the staff room. Staff also must hold meetings virtually whenever possible.
  • Any visitor to a school is required to wear a non-medical mask.
  • Even when wearing a mask, students and staff must still practice physical distancing whenever possible. Exceptions will be made for people who do not tolerate masks for behavioural or health reasons.
  • Within learning groups, physical distancing should also include avoiding physical contact and minimizing close, prolonged, face-to-face interactions, while spreading out as much as possible within the space available. There should be no crowding, gathering or congregating of people, even when non-medical masks are worn.

Whiteside also announced the second installment of the federal funding arrived on Jan. 29, 2021. School districts will be able to spend their portion of the funding in the following areas, based on local needs:

  • ‡ hiring teachers to deliver education programs, including extended transition programs;
  • ‡ hiring and training custodial and administrative staff to support students in their safe return to schools and to implement school safety plans;
  • ‡ purchasing additional non-medical masks or other personal protective equipment
  • ‡ improving ventilation and air systems in schools;
  • ‡ increasing hand hygiene, including additional handwashing and hand-sanitizing stations;
  • ‡ cleaning equipment and supplies;
  • ‡ mental health support;
  • ‡ software and computer or tablet loans for students learning remotely; and
  • ‡ additional transportation costs to accommodate additional routes and enhanced cleaning.

There will also be funds allocated for six regional rapid response teams, one for each health authority and one dedicated to support independent schools, with representatives from both school and provincial health staff. These teams, announced by the provincial health officer, will continue to improve the speed of school exposure investigations, so health authorities can inform school districts and families more quickly. Rapid response teams will conduct physical or virtual site inspections to ensure K-12 COVID-19 health and safety guidelines are being followed consistently. If there has been a significant exposure event or an in-school transmission, rapid response teams will be deployed to conduct a review and make recommendations, if needed.

School principals and vice-principals at each public and independent school are being provided with updated COVID-19 health and safety checklists to ensure they consistently follow provincial guidelines. Additionally, families in their local communities are reminded of the personal measures they can take to help keep schools safe. School districts and independent school authorities will be required to confirm every school has completed the checklist and safety plans have been updated to reflect the updated guidelines by Feb. 26, 2021. All schools will also post updated plans on their websites.

One of the most important factors to keeping schools safe is a daily screening for any COVID-19 symptoms, which is why daily health checks continue to be required. To support daily screening, a new K-12 health-checker app has been developed for students and their families and can be found at: https://www.k12dailycheck.gov.bc.ca The app will allow people to answer simple questions every day. It will inform them if they can attend school or if they need to self-isolate and contact 811 to be screened for COVID-19.

Learn More:
The BC Centre for Disease Control has a new website with information and resources about health and safety measures in K-12 schools, student and staff safety, and what happens when there is a COVID-19 case in school: www.bccdc.ca/schools
Families and students can find up-to-date information about K-12 schools at: https://www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools
The B.C. K-12 daily check app can be found at the following addresses:
Apple: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bc-k-12-daily-health-checker/id1547334827
Google: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.qp.k12App

New info on school start up

In this unusual year, SD83 would like to share what information we currently have, and hopefully answer some questions our parents may have about the new school year.

When will my child begin school?
The Ministry of Education has announced there will be a staggered start to the new school year to give everyone time to become familiar with the new safety protocols.

School District No. 83 staff will report to their schools on Tuesday, September 8 for safety orientations and planning sessions.

Students will report to schools on Thursday, September 10 for their welcoming and safety orientation sessions. Regular learning will commence as soon as appropriate routines are established. School staff will communicate any changes to student schedules. Graduated entry for Kindergarten will still occur in its usual manner.

What is a Learning Group or Cohort?
Through the direction of our Public Health Officer (PHO), the BC Ministry of Education has established learning group limits for regular student interactions that occur inside our buildings. Schools are expected to adhere to this expectation for all learning activities, or establish additional safety protocols, including social distancing. Staff that work with more than one cohort of students will also have to adhere to these safety protocols.
Click here for information on Learning Groups/Cohorts

Will the school buses be running?
School District No. 83 will continue to offer bus services. In late August all bus students will receive a postcard in the mall with a stop location and pick up and drop off times. If you are new to the district and qualify for busing please contact our transportation office at 250-832-9415 to register your child for busing. Please contact the transportation department if you don’t receive yours or if your mailing address has changed.

Please note that additional safety protocols are being finalized for all bus routes. These will likely include seating plans, use of masks for riders in grades four through twelve, as well as PPE for the drivers. Submission of regular health checks may also be required.

Will the school district be staggering school day start and end times?
Changes to school start and end of day times are not being contemplated at this time, as many of our students ride to school on our interlocking bus schedule. However, break and lunch times may be staggered in some schools to reduce hallway, playground, and common area interactions.

What is happening at the high schools?
High schools are currently investigating timetable options to limit the number of contacts. At this time, some secondary schools in School District No. 83 are considering the use of the quarter system, where students would take two courses a day for ten weeks. To meet the cohort requirements determined by the PHO, but still allow students to stay enrolled in their currently selected course options, some of our larger schools may have to divide the student population into groups, having students attend in-person on certain days and work from home the other days. Secondary leadership teams are currently working on this issue and will notify families as plans are nearer to completion.

What health guidelines are being put in place?
The plan and protocols are being updated and will be posted on the district website (www.sd83.bc.ca ) by August 26.
Click here to view the COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines for K-12 School Settings

Will there be “health checks” like there were in June
Parents of bus students may be required to submit health checks, but otherwise, health check forms will not be required. However, it is extremely important that parents pay close attention to the health of their children and keep them at home if they are sick or symptomatic. More information is available here.

Our family has an immune compromised member and we don’t think our children should attend school. What are our options?
School District No. 83 is focusing on making our schools as safe as possible for all students. However, if are uncomfortable having your child return to regular learning, you may wish to consider some other options.

School District No. 83 currently has an online option for students in Grades 9-12 known as the Education Outreach Program (EOP). Students in EOP are supplied assignments and resources (such as textbooks and learning activities) as well as some access to a local teacher, but the program is primarily self-directed. The Education Outreach Program currently offers a wide range of online courses to students on a full-time or cross-enrolled basis in Grades 9-12.

School District No. 83 previously offered an Education Outreach Program option to elementary and middle schools student, but it was closed due to lack of demand. We will reopen this program option for the duration of the pandemic if there is sufficient interest. For more information regarding the EOP program, or to express your interest in registering, please contact Education Outreach Principal Rob Macaulay at rmacaula@sd83.bc.ca

Note that the Home Learning Opportunities program that School District No. 83 provided through June will not be available this coming year. Parents who are interested in homeschooling their children may wish to visit this website:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/classroom-alternatives/homeschooling

What about music/band/choir/musical theatre?
At this time, all programs will be carrying on as previously planned. However, there music-specific safety protocols and scheduling to allow for sufficient physical distancing for classes outside the set cohort numbers that still need to be worked out. Expect further communication from your school prior to start-up.

Students with special needs?
Students with special needs will be given full access to learning and supports, as they would in a non-pandemic context. For more information about your child’s program or to request an individual meeting or orientation, please contact your school.

What about extra-curricular activities (clubs/sports)
Schools may continue clubs if cohorts or physical distancing can remain intact. The Fall interschool sports schedule has been cancelled. The remaining seasons of play will be re-evaluated throughout the year. https://www.bcschoolsports.ca/news/planning-return-play-fall-2020

Community use of school facilities?
After hours community use of facilities will be allowed in the fall providing they are in full alignment with health and safety measures.

Further Information
Further information will be provided via the School District No. 83 website over the coming weeks, including the full District Safety Plan. You can also expect a survey confirming your student’s intentions to attend school and/or utilize bus transportation for September.
Additional links from the Ministry of Education and Public Health
Ministry of Education Return To School Information
BC Centre for Disease Control website with the most recent information on school safety and child care safety protocols.
The BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 dashboard
7 Tips for talking to kids about COVID-19 poster on the Fraser Health website 
All joint statements from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix are posted here
The Provincial Pandemic Coordination plan

Click here for complete SD83 newsletter

Taking steps to keep kids learning during in-class school suspension

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, B.C. has suspended all in-class instruction until further notice. This means as spring break ends, please do not send your children to school.

On Monday, March 30 parents will be receiving an emailed letter from SD83 with further information and initial learning opportunities for your child. Staff will be working this week to assess needs and further develop plans.
You will soon be contacted by telephone by your child’s teacher.

SD83 would also like to share this information received from the Ministry of Education:

New guidelines for school leaders and a new website are being introduced to support B.C.’s K-12 students while in-class education is suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a challenging time for families in B.C. as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is vital students have a sense of routine and continued opportunities to learn while they are at home,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “These guidelines will ensure the needs, health and safety of students are put first as school leaders actively plan to serve the unique needs of their communities.”

While in-person classes are suspended, the B.C. school system remains open to continue to support students and families in a variety of ways. Note that parents should not bring their children to school on Monday, March 30, 2020, as they usually would after spring break.

However, essential frontline health-care workers, like those directly involved in patient care, who need urgent care for their school-aged child the week of March 30 are advised to contact their school principal as soon as possible to discuss care arrangements available during the first week back after spring break. Other parents who are deemed an essential service worker and who may need child care for their school-age children can expect to hear from their school regarding care options by Friday, April 3, 2020. Schools will be doing their best to accommodate urgent child care needs while meeting the guidelines and directives of the provincial health officer.

Since there are many students who will have challenges working online, schools have been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs and circumstances of their communities. School leaders are actively working on these plans, and families will hear from their school superintendent and/or school principal in the coming week with an update on their timelines.

Government is working with all 60 school boards, independent school authorities, First Nations schools, teachers, school leaders, support staff, public health officials and all education partners on a co-ordinated approach. Guidelines for developing education plans for students will follow these principles:

  1. Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees.
  2. Provide the services needed to support children of essential workers.
  3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
  4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

These principles will also guide planning and support for students who need extra learning support or those with disabilities, important services like meal programs and child care services operating on school grounds.

“Boards of education across the province are working on ways to ensure continuity of learning in their communities,” said Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association. “Local boards of education understand the unique needs in each community. That local connection will be key as boards roll out plans tailored to each school district in the province.”

While teachers and schools will have primary responsibility for continuous learning, government has launched Keep Learning BC. This is a central place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, annotated links to free learning resources, as well as how to help children learn and how to ensure their well-being while they are at home. Keep Learning BC is available at: www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/

The Keep Learning BC website will have helpful guides to maintain routines and stay safe online, giving parents information about how talk to their children about COVID-19, along with other mental health resources to manage stress or anxiety. A comprehensive set of frequently asked questions is also available, with continuous updates about school services and programs as things progress: www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools/

Fleming added, “While it’s important for kids to keep learning, there is no expectation that we can duplicate a normal school day at home, and every family will need to figure out what works best for them, in discussion with their children’s teachers. I understand that many children are experiencing anxiety, while also missing their teachers and friends, and that’s why it’s important they know the actions we’re taking are designed to keep everyone safe, and we will return to regular school life down the road. By working together and supporting each other, we will get through this.”

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said, “We are proud of the parents, families and school communities who are working together to keep their children safely at home, and recognize how important it is for children to have continued learning opportunities in these challenging times. Parents who are health-care workers are also eagerly waiting for support, and it’s our job to work as a team to make sure they can continue their essential services.”

Quote:

Andrea Sinclair, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils —

“The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is truly appreciative of the united effort that is being undertaken across the education sector resulting in the continuity of an educational program while our children are at home. Parents understand that alternative instruction plans are being created to best meet the needs of children and that learning will vary by grade, district and region. As we try to maintain a daily routine in our homes, including academics and recreation, parents acknowledge that educators play a critical role supporting our children during this extraordinary time.”

Quick Facts:

  • On March 17, 2020, under the direction of the provincial health officer, all schools were ordered to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice. 
  • Every student in K-12 will receive a final mark for the 2019-20 school year, and all students who are on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall. Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this school year will also graduate. On average, about 45,000 students graduate every year.
  • The Ministry of Education is also working across government to ensure all students graduating high school will have a smooth transition to post-secondary education.

Learn More:

Students, parents, guardians and teachers can find learning resources and accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions at: www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools/

A new website is constantly being updated with the latest information: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19

The best source of COVID-19 health information can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

For non-health-related questions, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19, email servicebc@gov.bc.ca, or call 1 888 COVID-19

For those who think they have symptoms of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has developed an online self-assessment tool at: https://covid19.thrive.health
People with symptoms can also call 811 to pre-arrange health testing.

If children are struggling with a problem big or small, encourage them to call the Kids Help Line, a free resource available at 1 800 668-6868.

For a traditional Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Continued_Learning_during_COVID19_Mar27.Chinese.pdf

For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/COVID19_March27_Continued_Learning_during_COVID_Punjabi.pdf

The letter from the Government of B.C. can be found here