Half-Masting of Flags

In recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept 30th) all Saanich Schools flags will be lowered to half-mast on the evening of Sept 29 and raised again the morning of Oct 1st.

Return to School Updates – A Message from the Superintendent (Aug 25 2021)

Good afternoon Parents/Guardians,

I hope that you and your families have had an enjoyable summer.  As you know, we are getting ready to receive your children in school after Labour Day.  School offices are open next week as we make the final push towards Sept 7th.  I want to take this opportunity to provide you with some information on a few items including health and safety as it pertains to the pandemic. 

Full-Time In-Person Instruction

The Ministry of Education confirmed in their Tuesday media release that schools are returning to full-time in-person instruction this September.

Pandemic Health & Safety Protocols

Also announced on Tuesday were the updated operational guidelines for K-12 schools.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • As mandated by WorkSafeBC, a new Communicable Disease Program will replace our district’s Safety Plan.  It will have many similarities to our current plan but will reflect any new measures being implemented in our schools.  Ours will be available on our district website early next week.
  • Regional Medical Health Officers will now have the authority to implement additional safety requirements at a regional, district or school level should that be required.
  • All K-12 staff and students in Gr 4-12 are required to wear masks while indoors or on the school bus.  K-Gr 3 students are encouraged to wear masks, but this remains the choice of the student and their family.
  • General cleaning of the premises, and the cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, will occur at least once in a 24-hour period.
  • Staff and students (or their parents if appropriate) are to continue to do their own Daily Health Check and should remain home if they are not feeling well. 
  • Visitors will still be required to sign-in at the office or front counter to confirm that they are feeling well.
  • Our ventilation systems will continue to use high-filtering MERV 13 filters as recommended.  Ventilation performance will also continue to be monitored by our Facilities Department.
  • School gatherings and events will now align with provincial/regional guidelines.  The following activities will now be able to occur:
    • School sports 
    • Extra-curricular activities & assemblies
    • Theater and dance performances
    • Staff gatherings and meetings

Additional guidance and information can be found in the Ministry of Education document: Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings.

Vaccination Update – From Island Health

Island Health MHO, Dr. Mike Benusic: “We are making great headway with youth vaccination rates on the Island and would like to get students and staff off to a great start with the school year with high immunization rates among eligible students and staff. We are sitting today at about 69% of youth 12-17 with at least 1 dose of vaccine, and vaccinating more every day.”

Please see the attached Information Sheet from Island Health on student vaccination.

Welcome Back

We know that school is important for our students and our goal remains to provide an engaging learning environment while prioritizing appropriate health and safety measures.  We are looking forward to a positive and safe year ahead and are excited to see our students again.  See you after Labour Day.

 

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept 30th) – All Saanich Schools to be Closed (A Message from the Superintendent) August 4, 2021

Good afternoon Parents/Guardians,

I wanted to send you this recent provincial announcement about September 30th so that you had as much notice as possible.

On June 3rd of this year the federal government announced that Bill C-5An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), had received Royal Assent and that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation would be observed by federal government employees and by federally regulated workplaces every year, starting on September 30, 2021.  All Provinces and Territories would need to enact subsequent legislation if they wished other employees within their province/territory to also observe these days. 

I am contacting you today to provide you with the latest information from the BC government.

We received word that the BC government has declared Sept 30th as a holiday this year for all provincial public sector employees – this includes public school districts.  This means that Thursday Sept 30th all Saanich School District schools and the Board Office will be closed.  This is a day for all of us to consider what each of us can do to further the prospects of TRUE Truth and Reconciliation.

Details on various school and district operational implications will be coming over the next few weeks, once we receive more information from the Ministry of Education.  This will include considerations for potential impacts to school schedules.

You can find the provincial announcement about this new holiday here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021FIN0048-001531 .  The provincial government is also beginning to engage with Indigenous partners and the business/labour communities to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate this day next year and beyond.  

We are looking forward to a great year ahead here in Saanich Schools.  See you all in September.

Yours truly,
Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

Spare Room? Become a Homestay Family!

Saanich International Student Program (SISP) is in need of host families for international students joining our district in September 2021. Make life-long friendships, receive a generous allowance of $975 per month to offset expenses and share the beauty of your home and community. 

*SISP is following all guidelines and requirements set by the Federal and Provincial Government regarding COVID-19.  Extensive safety protocols are in place.* 

Annual General Meetings

The Annual General Meetings for the School District 63 Business Company and its two subsidiary companies, Saanich International Student Recruiting Services Inc. and Saanich International Distributed Learning Services Inc., will be held on Wednesday, August 25th, 2021 at 4:00 pm at School District 63 School Board Office, 2125 Keating Cross Road, Saanichton, B.C.

Message to Parents/Guardians - Unseasonably Warm Temperatures (June 27 2021)

Good afternoon parents and guardians,

We know that this unseasonable ‘heat dome’ in BC has created some concern about school temperatures as we head into the last 2 days of school.  I want to take a few minutes to share with you what we are doing so that you can make an informed decision about whether you will be sending your children to school on Monday.

All of our schools have HVAC systems which circulate the air in the buildings, however, they do not have chilling capabilities.  In anticipation of this heat we are utilizing this air circulation to have a complete exchange of air to bring early morning air into our buildings.  To keep the air temperature as low as possible we are reminding staff to keep windows and blinds closed so that the warmer exterior air is not drawn into the building.  This should allow for the interior to be several degrees cooler than outside, however, it will definitely be warmer than usual in our schools.  Activities may be adjusted to ensure that children stay as cool as possible. 

Please consider packing a water bottle for your children and snacks that have a liquid component (e.g. oranges).  It is important that they stay hydrated.  The BCCDC has additional information on warm weather safety during the pandemic – you can find this information HERE.

However, if you feel that it is best for you to keep your children at home on Monday due to the anticipated warm temperatures please do so. 

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate this most unusual school year.

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

Saanich Schools Virtual Graduation Ceremonies 2021

The Saanich School District, in association with Roll Focus, and Shaw Cable, is proud to announce the viewing dates for the upcoming Virtual Graduation Ceremonies, celebrating the achievements of our Class of 2021.   To acknowledge this important milestone, Saanich Schools will be hosting the release of the video ceremonies... please click through to find the dates and times.

From the Superintendent – Year-end Message to Parents/Guardians (June 23, 2021)

Dear Parents/Guardians,

First and foremost I want to say THANK YOU.  We are so fortunate here in Saanich to have a supportive parent and guardian community.  We have traversed the pandemic in large part due to the teamwork between home and school.   Thank you for your collaboration, patience and understanding as we worked through the challenges of the pandemic together.  I have heard from many schools about the support from their PAC, the spirit of generosity from parents in general and the feeling that we are together in this journey.  So, thank you.

THE PANDEMIC AND NEXT YEAR

There hasn’t been a year like this in my 33-year public education career.  Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has been both an enormous challenge, but also a time of celebration for how we forged creative new ideas in meeting the needs of students and families.  I am proud of our teachers, administrators, support staff and district office staff for their individual and collective efforts to meet this year’s challenges -- finding solutions to unique situations that popped up over these past 16 months.

On June 17th the provincial government announced that we can expect to return to full-time in-class learning in September.  And while specifics around health protocols will be confirmed later in the summer, they did announce that students will no longer be grouped into cohorts which will allow for normal timetabling in our schools.  We expect that things like assemblies, extracurricular activities and school sports will return this fall.  Specifics on things like mask-wearing, community gatherings and other health-related items will be confirmed sometime in late August.  The June 17th provincial media release can be found here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021EDUC0044-001180.  Island Health has asked us to remind families of the opportunity to have youth between the ages of 12-17 vaccinated this summer.  You can find more information on the Island Health COVID-19 Vaccine website

The Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, Education Minister, has written a year-end letter to all parents/guardians which you can find here: Minister Whiteside letter

Keep an eye on your email for any additional announcements about school opening from the district as we approach the end of August.

A TIME TO REMEMBER

As we head towards a summer of relaxing and recharging I also feel it is important for me to take a few moments on another topic.

As a society, we have had recent reminders of our collective need to battle intolerance and racism – to find a path forward where there is respect for everyone regardless of the colour of their skin, how they worship, their gender identity or whom they love.  We have seen a number of social movements rise up this past year against bigotry – things like Black Lives Matter and the Anti-Asian Hate campaigns.  Most recently there has been an outcry against the deaths of 4 people in Ontario who were struck down on a street corner simply because they were Muslim.  As a country, we still have much work to do to combat these intolerances and injustices.

215 – Kamloops Indian Residential School

The discovery of at least 215 children’s graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has been a stark reminder to all of us that our entire country has a past that is shameful and fraught with pain and suffering.   As a school district, we have a moral responsibility to not only remember this tragedy but to continue to find ways to teach about its history and its effects on Indigenous peoples across this land.  Our schools have held a number of ceremonies, tributes and actions in the days and weeks since the revelation that have been tremendously emotional and moving.  I recently posted a blog on my thoughts about the national tragedy of residential schools -- if you are interested in reading it, you can find it here: THE SHAMEFUL HISTORY OF RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS

Our collective, moral responsibility as an educational organization is to leverage these tragic reminders into actions that make a difference in our schools, our community and beyond.  Here in Saanich, we will continue in our efforts to bring awareness and action on the topics of intolerance and racism in the months and years ahead.

YEAR-END REFLECTIONS

My year-end reflections on this most tumultuous year can be found in my last blog post – I hope that you can find a few minutes to read it.  I have penned this one around my favourite theme of Star Wars as well as including something quite personal at the end: 2021 YEAR-END REFLECTIONS: THE SCHOOL YEAR, STAR WARS & MY DAD

Wishing you and your family a wonderful summer filled with relaxation and rejuvenation,

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools