COVID-19

COVID-19 Updates

Min of Education - June School Restart Sets the Stage for September (June 25, 2020)

June 25 - The Ministry of Education released a general update on preparations for September.  This release does not provide any information on the anticipated stage being implemented, but it does mention the plan over the summer to prepare for this decision later on.

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EDUC0034-001170 

A letter from the Minister of Education and the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is attached for your information.

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A Message from the Superintendent – Welcome Back to School (Jan 3, 2021)

Dear Parents / Guardians,

Welcome back and Happy New Year!  It’s nice to see the calendar change to 2021 with the optimism that a new year brings.  We are looking forward to continuing to bring a responsive educational experience to your children as we adjust to any new requirements surrounding COVID-19 including any new guidelines from the Provincial Health Office (PHO), Island Health, or the Ministry of Education.

As a reminder, here are a few items for your attention as we settle back into a regular school routine:

  1. If your child is sick please keep them at home until they are feeling better.
  2. Your child must complete a daily health check before they come to school.  Symptoms to look for include: fever; chills; cough or worsening chronic cough; shortness of breath; loss of sense of smell or taste; diarrhea or nausea/vomiting.  You can find more information about health checks and provincial resources on the BCCDC website: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid-19 
  3. All visitors to schools must sign-in indicating that they do not have any of the above symptoms.
  4. If your child has travelled internationally over the break they must quarantine for 14 days before returning to school.  This is a federal government requirement: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/travel-affected-by-covid-19?keyword=covid&keyword=travel&keyword=quarantine#interprovincial 

As the PHO reviews more information, we expect that there will be refinements to any orders and guidelines for schools.  We will continue to share pertinent information which affects our schools as it becomes available.  Current updates can be found on our district website.  

As we navigate these new waters we will continue to take Dr. Henry’s words to heart to “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe”.  Wishing all of you a wonderful 2021.

Respectfully,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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A Message from the Superintendent – Dec 3, 2020

Dear Parents / Guardians,

Here we are in December almost 4 months into the new school year.  It has certainly been a roller-coaster ride for everyone in our school system.  I want to thank parents and guardians for your continuing support as we navigate the changing landscape in our schools and communities.  Our strength is our resolve to find solutions when presented with the challenges before us and the amazing spirit of cooperation we have in our district.   I am writing to you today to provide you with an update on a number of district items:

Health & Safety

We continue to follow the recommendations from Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team at the Provincial Health Office (PHO) who work in conjunction with the BC Centre for Disease Control.  Our schools have enhanced safety protocols in place that include extensive cleaning and other safety measures such as hand-washing stations, mask protocols and student cohorts.  Our schools are some of the most controlled environments in the province and continue to be safe places to work and learn.  You can find more information about the latest information and guidelines at the following websites:

Communication Protocols

We will continue to keep parents and guardians informed in a timely manner on any significant updates with our school operations.  This will include things such as school schedules, any operational changes that may be required, as well as any Island Health notifications that need to be sent home.  Island Health remains the regional authority on all medical issues related to COVID-19 and will direct the school district should there be an exposure in a school.  We will work to ensure that this communication is efficient and transparent. 

Winter Break (Dec 21st – Jan 1st)

At this time, there is no indication that the provincial government is planning to extend the upcoming Winter Break.  This would be a provincial decision and not one controlled by the school district.  The decision would come from either the PHO or the Ministry of Education.  

The Holiday Season

This will be a very different holiday season for most families in our community.  It is normally a time for gathering and celebrating.  And while that may look quite different this year it can also be a time of rejuvenation and renewal.  I know from visiting schools and speaking with students, staff and parents there is a need for some time to recharge.  I want to take this time to wish everyone a wonderful upcoming holiday season – one that is filled with love and reconnection, however that might look.  I have posted a new blog entry on my professional blog The Power of Why and hope that you may take a few minutes to read it:  ‘Tis the Season for Hope

Season’s Greetings,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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COVID-19 Testing Procedures for Children (Sept 18 2020)

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Today, Island Health provided school districts with a letter that we are sharing with all parents about the new gargle test for COVID-19.  It provides information about the new test, when to go for the test, as well as health checks and return-to-school protocols.  You can find the letter Taking Your Student For a Mouth Rinse & Gargle COVID-19 Test on our district website here.

Sincerely

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent of Schools

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Stage 2 - Q&A (Updated Sept. 7, 2020)

Q&A have been grouped into four themes: Click here to view the answers.

  1. RETURN TO SCHOOL
    1. Why are schools returning to in-class instruction in September?
    2. Is it safe for children to return to school?
    3. What has B.C. learned from the reopening of schools in other places?
  2. HEALTH & SAFETY
    1. Why are safety measures in K-12 schools regarding physical distancing and masks different than what is expected in the general community?
    2. What is the frequency and protocol for classroom cleaning?
    3. Will playgrounds be sanitized between the different learning groups using them?
    4. How is SD63 ensuring that the HVAC systems are satisfactory?
    5. Will parents need to supply masks and sanitizing supplies?
    6. What happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school?
    7. Will children keep their school supplies at school, or will they be expected to bring in their items daily?
    8. What is a daily health check? When and how should I do them?
    9. Will I be notified if there is a positive COVID-19 case in my child’s school?
    10. Is it safe to share books and other paper documents?
    11. How were the learning group sizes determined?
  3. LEARNING COHORTS & PHYSICAL DISTANCING
    1. What are cohorts or learning groups?
    2. Are children required to be physically distancing in their classroom?
  4. STUDENT LEARNING
    1. ​If I register my child for distributed learning or home schooling, will they lose their place at their current school?
    2. When do I have to decide about whether to choose in-class instruction, distributed learning, remote learning or home schooling for my child?
    3. What is the Remote Learning option?
    4. Can students move back and forth between In-class and Remote Learning?
    5. What supports will be in place for students with disabilities and diverse abilities?
    6. What about immunocompromised students and parents/caregivers?
    7. What are the initial proportions of students in each of the learning options?
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Letter to Parents: Returning to School Operations (Aug 27, 2020)

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Re: Returning to School Options

As indicated by the Minister of Education yesterday, the Province is providing districts with funding to allow for a remote learning option for those parents/guardians who are not yet ready to have their child(ren) return to in-class instruction. The purpose of the email is to provide you with a description of the options available to you as we begin school in September. We are providing a Declaration Form so we can accurately plan for start-up in the limited amount of time we have before school begins. It is important we receive a form for each child who will be entering Kindergarten through Grade 12. Please complete the Declaration Form no later than Monday, August 31st at 3:00 pm. This information is critical to our planning as we ready for school in September.

Families will need to select from 1 of 4 instructional methods for each of their children:

  1. Student will return to In-Class Learning at school (Elementary and Middle 100% attendance model; Secondary 75%-100% attendance model).
  2. Student has been enrolled in Distributed Learning. Please see the following link for more information about this option: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/classroom-alternatives.
  3. Student will Learn Remotely through the district and maintain a place in their school for when they are ready to return. **Please see the information below regarding this option.
  4. Student will enroll in Homeschooling. Please see the following link for more information about this option: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/classroom-alternatives.

Link to Declaration Form: https://www.sd63.bc.ca/Return-To-School-Declaration

Option #3: Remote Learning

On August 26th, the Minister of Education announced that districts will now provide a remote learning option as part of their offerings to their community. Link to Minister’s announcement: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EDUC0057-001592

In Saanich, the Remote Learning option will have the following components:

  • Students will learn remotely at home with the assistance of a teacher assigned by the district (not their regular classroom teacher).
  • Teachers will connect with students periodically throughout the week.
  • The focus for all levels will be on core academics:
    • Elementary / Middle – Language Arts and Math
    • Secondary – Core Academic Subjects (no electives will be offered due to their instructional nature).
  • French Immersion will be supported for Elementary, Middle and Secondary.
  • Individual Education Plans (IEPs) will be followed and supported.

We expect the Remote Learning option to begin sometime during the week of September 21, 2020. Students who are enrolled in the Remote Learning option will have the option of returning to In-Class Learning in their school at natural breaks during the year (i.e., Quarter-semester breaks: 10 weeks/20 weeks) as well as the Winter and Spring Breaks. This is to minimize changes to Student Cohorts (Learning Groups) within the school.

Immune-compromised Students: If your child has a medical condition that prevents them from learning at school, please contact your local school directly for more information. As we have always done, schools will continue to work with families to best support your children who are medically compromised.

We know that this time of uncertainty has been challenging for families. Our goal continues to ensure that we build a robust educational program in our schools to meet your needs. Thank you for your continuing patience and understanding.

Please complete the Declaration Form by 3:00 pm on Monday, August 31, 2020.

Link to Declaration Form: https://www.sd63.bc.ca/Return-To-School-Declaration

Sincerely,
Dave Eberwein
Superintendent of Schools

DE/klg

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A Message from the Superintendent – Stage 2 Plan Approval (Aug 26 2020)

Good afternoon Parents / Guardians,

Here in Saanich, it goes without saying that these past few months have been like no other in our educational careers – I’m sure it has been challenging for both you and your children as well.  We have been asked to adjust and accommodate to a new set of expectations on a regular basis.  However, I continue to hear of many examples in our community about how we have rallied around the challenges before us – building bridges of understanding and compassion, supporting each other when needed and finding creative ways to be successful in whatever we are doing.  It is a poignant reminder to me about me how lucky we are to work and learn in a community which cares so passionately about our schools, our students and each other.

And as we ready ourselves for another school year, we are finding another new ‘normal’.  In terms of our school district, we continue to work diligently behind the scenes to ready our schools for September -- buildings have been scrubbed, supplies have been ordered and school timetables have been adjusted where needed.  In my previous email to you, I briefly outlined our organizational plans for Elementary schools, Middle schools and Secondary schools.  You can find my message from Aug 21st on our district webpage.

I am pleased to report that the Ministry of Education has recently approved our overall re-start plan – both our Stage 2 Operational Plan as well as our district Health & Safety plan .  We have posted both of these on our school district website.  I would encourage you to visit the site to read them as there is a wealth of new information –  particularly about the extensive health and safety measures that have been put in place.   For your additional information, there is a Ministry of Education media event this afternoon at 1:30 pm.  Should there be any further information at this time we will continue to share pertinent details with you in a timely fashion.

Your school’s administration will be reaching out to parents later today and again next week as we work to finalize information on the preparations at school.  Please ensure that you check your school’s normal communications including your school’s website. 

I am very proud of the work we have done and will continue to do to provide the best possible educational experience for your children in a safe and welcoming environment.  We look forward to seeing them in September.

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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