Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday January 07, 2022

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

Thank you for your patience and understanding with the phased restart of school. All students are welcome back to school on Monday, January 10 for face-to-face programming with enhanced safety measures.

From January 4-7, school staff have worked hard to put in place enhanced safety measures that will be implemented to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

Existing safety measures

  • Continue to complete the daily health checklist or use the K to 12 Health Check App;
  • Ensure that students and staff stay home when they are sick or have symptoms;
  • Use available space to spread out and to respect others’ personal space;
  • Students and staff wear a mask when in schools or riding a bus;
  • Regular and effective hand washing and/or sanitizing;
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces at least once a day.

Enhanced safety measures

  • Continue to emphasize the completion of the daily health checklist or use the K to 12 Health Check App;
  • Continue to stay home when sick or have symptoms;
  • Continue to maintain personally respectful space between individuals;
  • Continue to wear a mask when in schools and when riding a bus;
  • Continue regular and effective hand washing and/or sanitizing;
  • Continue cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces at least once a day;
  • School events and assemblies will be virtual;
  • Adult-only meetings (e.g., staff meetings) will be virtual, whenever possible;
  • Visitors to the school will be limited to those who provide direct benefit to student learning and wellbeing (e.g., teacher candidates, meal program volunteers, etc.);
  • Spectators at school events, including sporting events, are not permitted;
  • School classrooms will be reconfigured to maximize the amount of personal space available;
  • Break times will be staggered and students will use outdoor classroom doors to reduce the congestion in hallways and shared spaces during transition and break times;
  • Restrict the sharing of food among students.

The District Communicable Disease Prevention Plan reflects these changes that are based on provincial safety measures and K-12 guidelines. Every school has a revised communicable disease prevention plan posted on their website.

Superintendents and Board Chairs were part of a Ministry of Education call today and learned that additional information is forthcoming next week about rapid tests. The Ministries of Health and Education will share when districts will receive rapid tests and how they will be used in the K-12 sector. In this call, we also learned that contact tracing and public notification of exposures are no longer useful tools for preventing the spread of Covid. The increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the shorter incubation period results in more people being infected quicker, which makes contact tracing ineffective, and in some ways, even impossible. The direction from Interior Health for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is to self-report a positive test, self-isolate, and notify close contacts. This information, along with examples of close contacts, can be found on the Interior Health website.

To support continuity of learning for every student, school and district staff collaborated throughout this week to create a District Continuity of Learning Plan.

District Continuity of Learning Plan

The following four scenarios for providing learning are documented within the plan:

  • Scenario One: Face-to-Face Programming with Enhanced Safety Measures (our current scenario)
  • Scenario Two: Hybrid Learning (Face-to-face and online materials and programming)
  • Scenario Three: Partial or Full Functional Closure of School
  • Scenario Four: Online Learning

Through living the plan this week and considering feedback from parents, students, staff, employee groups, and the Aboriginal Education Council, as well as changes in provincial guidance, we will continue to review and revise these scenarios, if necessary.

District Functional School Closure Plan

A functional school closure may result if there are not enough staff to teach one or more classes or a whole school. Staff and student absenteeism will be monitored closely, so if there is a school in this situation, parents will be informed immediately. Children would need to go home, and there would be a 1-2 day preparatory time for administration to determine which staff could work from home and teach online. Staff would then prepare to pivot from face-to-face to online programming, and parents would be informed of the schedules for their children to be online.

The aim would be to return to face-to-face programming as soon as reasonably possible, assuming staff are able to return to work.

While it is better to have plans for multiple scenarios, I hope that we can remain face-to-face and enjoy safe and innovative educational programming in our schools as we have throughout the pandemic. We have learned a great deal together, and I have absolute faith in our staff, students, and parents to continue to be patient and invested in what is best for our children and staff.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD

Superintendent

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