This FAQ is intended to answer some of your questions regarding the September school restart for K to 12 students.
Note: The information shared here is based on the most current information we have. As more information becomes available, we will update this FAQ accordingly.
Under the Stage 2 model that the Ministry of Education and Provincial Health Officer have laid out, a hybrid model is not included. Currently, we do not have the capacity, staff, resources or training to offer this model adequately for students. We know things can change rapidly so we are looking at processes that we can shift to.
We take all of our direction from the Ministry of Education and the Provincial Health Office. They say the schools need to be open and we oblige knowing we have a great plan in place.
There are a number of reasons for a return to in-class instruction:
- It is safe to do so. Information from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) tells us the COVID-19 virus has a very low infection rate in children. As well, children are not the primary drivers of the COVID-19 spread in childcare facilities, schools or in community settings.
- Schools are important community hubs. Social interaction is critical to our individual and collective well-being and mental health.
- Schools are critical to student learning.
- School closures have significant negative mental health and socioeconomic impacts on vulnerable children and youth.
- As of September 8, some students will have been out of school for 178 days.
We know many families rely on school bussing for their children. To enhance health and safety the following will take place:
- Assigned seating to allow for contact tracing
- Masks to be worn by drivers and riders (lack of cohort isolation and physical distancing)
- Elementary/middle students separated from secondary students
- High touch point areas will be cleaned after each run
- Deep cleaning/fogging will be done after each day
We understand families have many reservations. At this time, the School Act does not allow a student to be registered in two places, for example in a school and online or in a school and homeschooled. During this time, if a student does not return to school and does not have a doctor’s note, the student will be withdrawn from the school.
We know some families have choices to make. Regardless of which stage we find ourselves in, parents/guardians will continue to have choices regarding their child’s educational program. Families who do not want to their child to attend in-person classes at a public school have the option to register their child for Distributed Learning (online)* or Homeschooling prior to the start of the school year.
While parents/guardians can choose a different option during the school year, this choice may be limited based on program availability and must be made in accordance with applicable school district policies and procedures.
*SD62’s Westshore Centre for Learning and Training offers academic and elective courses in Grades 10-12. Currently, we do not offer DL for kindergarten to Grade 9.
Under guidance from the provincial government, Provincial Health Officer, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and our local health authority, SD62 schools have strict health and safety measures to ensure the safety of our staff and students. These include:
- Frequent hand washing
- Added sanitization stations
- Hand sanitizers in all portable classrooms
- Physical distancing for students outside of their learning groups
- Mandatory masks or face coverings in high traffic areas where physical distancing cannot be met (middle & secondary schools, school busses). *Exceptions will be made for people who cannot wear masks for medical reasons
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting of schools, classrooms and high touch areas
- Designated entrances, floor markings and/or signage to address traffic flow
- Limitations on assemblies and other gatherings
- Visitor access only for people entering to support activities that benefit student learning and well-being
- Isolated rooms should someone fall ill while at school
- Below learning group maximum at secondary level
- Quick contact tracing through the learning group model
- Trust in parents, students and staff to stay home if they feel ill
- Allows for return of 100% of students, but only half are in the school at a time.
- Learning group of 30 (staff being the connection between the AM & PM classes).
- Drastically reduces the number of people per class, far below the Province’s allotment of 120 students per learning group.
- Maximizes health and safety for large groups of students and limits class transition/common time.
- Student maintains course selection.
- Remainder of the day will be for self-directed learning/homework.
- Provides extra support for students outside of their scheduled class.
- Supports student mental wellness and concerns about returning to large schools.
- Allows students to focus on a single class at one time.
Simple “occupied” door signage will be used.
When school resumes in September, all students with disabilities or those who need extra support in school will continue to have full-time access to in-class instruction and the supports and services they are eligible to receive.
School districts and independent school authorities will be expected to identify students with additional support needs through a needs assessment to allow for proactive planning to ensure supports and services are in place at the start of the school year.
According to the Provincial Health Officer and the BCCDC, most children with compromised immune systems can return to school when safety measures are in place. Protective self-isolation is only recommended for children with severely compromised immune systems, on a case-by-case basis. Conditions include organ transplant, chemotherapy, receiving high doses of steroids or severe immune deficiency diseases.
Parents/guardians of children with complex medical conditions or underlying risk factors should consult with their healthcare provider to determine their child’s level of risk regarding returning to school. Subsequently, parents/guardians may wish to reach out to the principal or support teacher (case manager) of their current school to discuss available options and support.
For more information, see the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Guidance for Families of Immunocompromised Children in School and Group Gatherings.
PPE is not required for most staff beyond that used as part of regular precautions for the hazards normally encountered in their regular course of work (e.g. gloves for some custodial services).
However, non-medical masks or face coverings are required to be worn by staff and middle and secondary students in high traffic areas, in common areas (e.g. hallways) or in situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained and the person is interacting with people outside of their learning group (e.g. Teachers Teaching on Call, specialist teachers or Education Assistants required to work in close proximity to students across learning groups).
Exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons.
Schools will also ensure non-medical masks are available for staff if someone should become ill while at school.
Beyond the above, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in schools is a personal choice that will be respected.
On the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, non-medical masks are not recommended for elementary students because of the increased likelihood they will touch their face and eyes, and because they may require assistance to properly put on and take off their mask (which means increased close personal contact from school staff). However, younger students will need to wear a mask if they become sick at school.
If you have a question that has not been answered here, please reach out to your school principal or email us. Administrators will ensure commonly asked questions are shared (while protecting your personal privacy) so that we can update our FAQ and provide an answer that benefits all visitors to this page.
Sickness at school or home, learning from home
The provincial guidelines cover this – all of our schools are following these guidelines and conducting daily health checks to monitor for symptoms.
The guidelines state that students who show any symptoms of a cold, the flu or COVID-19 should not go to school.
- For mild symptoms without fever, students and staff can monitor at home for 24 hours. If symptoms improve, they can return to school without further assessment.
- If the staff or student (or their parent) indicates that the symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition and are not unusual for that individual, they may return to school. No assessment or note is required from a health care provider.
From the BCCDC FAQ
Staff and families of students will be contacted if public health believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 at school, and provided with recommended follow-up steps (noted below).
Only public health can determine if a staff or student may have been exposed.
Public health will:
- notify anyone who may have been exposed.
- provide any follow-up steps like self-isolating or monitoring for symptoms.
- work with school administration to decide if communications to the school community are needed.
Public Health will determine who may have been in close contact and at risk of being exposed.
A: From the BCCDC FAQ
If a staff or student in a school is confirmed by public health to have COVID-19, public health will work with the person who is sick or their family, school administration, and any relevant health care providers to determine and support the next steps.
- The first step is telling the person who is sick to self-isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days from when symptoms started.
- Public health will start contact tracing. This means calling people who have been close to the person who is sick for a long enough time (at least 15 minutes).
- Public health will determine which family members, teachers, support staff or students have been in close enough contact for a long enough time with the person that they may have been exposed.
- Public health will look at a number of different things such as where the contact happened and how long other staff and students were exposed. This will help to assess the likelihood of others getting sick.
- If contacts are more likely to get sick with COVID-19, they are considered “close contacts”.
- Close contacts will be asked by public health officials to self-isolate and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
- It is expected that most members of a learning group will not be deemed close contacts, and will only need to monitor for symptoms, not self-isolate.
Family members, teachers, support staff and students who may have been exposed but are determined not to be a “close contact” do not have to self-isolate as they are no more likely to develop COVID-19 than anyone else.
*The use of learning groups supports rapid contact tracing by allowing public health to focus on a smaller group of people.
If a student or staff shows any symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, they will be supervised and cared for in a separate room and returned home as soon as possible. The individual will need to be assessed by a healthcare provider. If COVID-19 is confirmed, public health will notify the school and district.
They will then identify any potential COVID-19 exposures and reach out to anyone who may have been exposed. Parents/guardians will be notified if their child has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person. Public health officials will work closely with the school to determine if further actions should be taken. The school will support student learning while they are in self-isolation.
This is something that we would review on a case-by-case basis. As would be the case in any prolonged illness or absence from school, we would work with the student and their family to provide for the continuity of learning.
All school districts’ restart plans are designed to allow for the seamless transition between the 5 stages of the provincial framework for K to 12 education. This will allow students to attend the maximum time possible within cohort limits and density targets.
Daily Health Check
Parents/guardians have a responsibility to assess their child(ren) daily for symptoms of COVID-19 before sending them to school.
Staff and other adults entering the school must assess themselves daily before entering the school.
No, you do not.
Parents/guardians must complete an Acknowledgement that they understand how to complete the daily health check and that it must be completed daily. This Acknowledgement is completed through School Cash Online (KEV online forms), along with the other online forms required at school start-up.