COVID-19

COVID-19 Updates

A Message from the Superintendent - Island Health Communication on Possible COVID-19 Exposures (Mar 29 2021)

Dear Parents / Guardians,

I was contacted late last night by the Vancouver Island COVID-19 Rapid Response Team about a letter they had crafted with Island Health for distribution to all parents and guardians on the island.  

The purpose of the attached letter is to remind parents and guardians of the importance of remaining vigilant in reducing possible exposures to COVID-19 and as well as doing daily health checks of your children before sending them to school.  You can use the COVID-19 Health Check App to determine if you or your child should stay home and be tested for the virus.  If your child is not feeling well please keep them at home and call 811 to speak with a health professional.  If necessary, COVID-19 testing appointments can be made by calling 1-844-901-8442 (8:30 am – 8:00 pm).

Thank you for your continuing efforts at helping to keep our community safe.  

Respectfully,
Dave Eberwein

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A Message from the Superintendent - Spring Break 2021 & Survey

Dear Parents / Guardians,

It seems almost unbelievable that it was a year ago since the pandemic was proclaimed and our school experiences changed dramatically.  One year later and I will say again that I am extremely proud of our staff, our students and our community as we found ways to overcome the challenges before us.  Thank you for your ongoing support and patience as we travelled this road together.  And while we are not yet out of the woods, we can begin to see some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. 

As we head into Spring Break I want to provide you with a few updates:

  • Spring Break (March 15th – 26th)
    • All neighbourhood schools (Elementary / Middle / Secondary) and Remote Learning will be closed during Spring Break
    • SIDES courses will remain ‘open’ in Brightspace for student access.  However, SIDES staff will be available again beginning the week of March 29th
    • Please make sure your children take home any personal belongings they may need during this time
  • Province-wide COVID Safety Protocols
    • Avoid non-essential travel where possible
    • Adhere to the PHO’s Order on Gatherings and Events – no social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or your core bubble
    • Follow the EPA Order on wearing masks in public indoor spaces
    • Updates can be found on the provincial website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/restrictions#restaurants-bars
    • Keep safe and enjoy Beautiful BC – go for a walk or hike, take a stroll along a beach or enjoy some time in your back yard
  • Parent/Guardian Survey – The 2020-2021 School Year in Reflection (March 11th – April 8th)
    • We have recently posted a survey for all staff, students and parents to gather feedback on your educational experiences this year
    • As we head into spring we are looking to hear from you – your thoughts on what has worked well and what was particularly challenging
    • Our goal is to learn from this year as we prepare for next fall
    • We hope that you can find a few minutes to share your thoughts with us: https://www.sd63.bc.ca/2020-2021-school-year-survey

Wishing all of you a wonderful Spring Break filled with family as you enjoy the glory of spring and its message of renewal.

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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A Message from the Superintendent – COVID-19 School Protocols Update (Feb 4, 2021)

Dear Parents / Guardians,

This morning the Minister of Education, the Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, and the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced changes to some safety protocols in our schools.  In their joint address, they re-emphasized that schools continue to be safe places where virus transmission remains very low throughout BC and where the provincial safety protocols already in place are working very well.  Dr. Henry stated that these changes to some safety protocols have been introduced to fine tune our practices to ensure that our learning and working spaces reflect the most current scientific understanding about the COVID-19 virus.

Provincial Announcement Topics:

  • Federal funding grant allocation in BC;
  • Updated non-medical mask requirements in schools;
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols for things like equipment and tools;
  • Money for regional health authorities to establish rapid response teams for school outbreaks;
  • Updated health and safety checklists for schools; and
  • A new mobile Health Check App that has been developed for students and their families (Parents and students are encouraged to download this app and use it daily -- see below)

With regard to mask requirements, students in middle and secondary schools are now expected to wear masks while in school except under the following situations: when at their personal desk or workspace, when eating or drinking, or when separated by a physical barrier of some kind.  Students unable to wear a mask due to health or other reasons are still permitted to not wear one.  For elementary students, wearing a mask remains a personal choice.   

Our district is committed to implementing provincial guidelines in a timely fashion and also communicate these changes to our staff, students and parent communities.  We will be updating our district Safety Plan to reflect these recent changes.  You can expect additional information to come out from the district or your child’s school over the next few weeks.

For further information about today’s provincial announcement please visit the following sites:

Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work to provide your children with a safe, enriching and welcoming school environment.

Respectfully,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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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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