COVID-19

COVID-19 Updates

LOOKING AHEAD TO MARCH 30TH AND BEYOND - March 25, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you are well aware, the provincial government announced that all in-class instruction in BC schools was suspended indefinitely as of March 17th. Since that announcement, we have been in our 2-week Spring Break. Our district team in Saanich Schools has been busy working to provide your children with a ‘Continuity of Learning’ plan for the immediate future. I know that you have many questions. While there is still much to determine, I hope that this letter provides some answers for you.

Continuity of Learning Plan

We continue our work on developing a plan to support students as we make this transition to a virtual learning environment. At this time, we do not know how long the provincial government will suspend in-person instruction, but I anticipate it will be for a considerable time as the COVID-19 virus continues through our province. While our learning plan continues to take shape, what I can tell you that it will focus on the following:

  • core curriculum learning objectives;
  • a reasonable amount of time for each child to work on their learning every week;
  • a limit to the amount of technology or materials being required at home; and
  • enhancing access for teachers to a variety of e-resources to aid them in their lesson delivery

Administrators and teachers will begin reaching out to students and families next week once we have had time to meet with teachers about our plans.

Effect on Student Progress

The provincial government announced last week that every student will receive a final mark for this year, some graduation assessments were being postponed and students would be able to progress to the next grade level, or graduate, as usual at the end of this school year. 

It is important to remember that virtually every education system around the world is affected by this health crisis. We are not alone in the changes and challenges we are seeing at this time. Things like graduation ceremonies and other time-honoured traditions are presently on ‘hold’ as we wait to determine how this will unfold for us this spring.

Accessing the School

School administrators will let families know next week when students will be able to enter their school to obtain any materials they may require. Students were instructed to take as much home as possible before Spring Break, so we anticipate this need to be minimal. We are working to ensure that we have a ‘physical distancing’ plan that fits each unique school environment before allowing students into the schools to obtain any items from their desks or lockers.

Moving Forward

Undoubtedly, there will be bumps along the way as we settle into a new normal. However, as a collective district we have the skills, fortitude and desire to tackle the task ahead of us. As a district, we take enormous pride in not only providing an outstanding education to your children, but being that community hub – that gathering place where we come together to celebrate. And while we are currently in a place where most of those activities are changed or postponed, we are determined to provide your children with as robust an educational experience as possible.

Future Communication

We continue to post new updates on our district webpage (www.sd63.bc.ca/COVID-19), so I encourage you to visit it regularly. I will also be providing system-wide email updates to our community on a regular basis. However, you will now also begin to hear from your school principal as we return after Spring Break with updates specific to your school community.

We are all in this together! Thank you for your understanding and your patience during this unprecedented time.

Sincerely,
Dave Eberwein
Superintendent of Schools

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New Provincial Government Website and Phone Service for Parents (Mar 21, 2020)

A new government website has been launched with up-to-date non-clinical information on COVID-19. British Columbians can also use the new provincial phone service by calling 1-888-COVID19, available seven days a week from 7:30AM to 8PM, with information in over 110 languages.  

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Saanich School District Playgrounds are now CLOSED (Mar 20, 2020)

Due to the increased need to limit exposure to the COVID-19 virus, all Saanich Schools playgrounds will now be CLOSED until further notice. The field areas around the schools are still open at this time, but we ask the public to please respect the 'social distancing' requirements outlined by the Provincial Health Officer.  Signage will be posted in the near future. Thank you for your understanding.  

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Community Use Suspended

All community use of Saanich Schools sites is currently suspended.  Please contact the community use office for further details: Phone: (250) 652-7342 Email:  Emergency Phone: (250) 514-7461

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PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT ON SCHOOLS – MARCH 17, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Thank you, again, for your ongoing support as we continue to work through the consistently evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The implications continue to unfold in our district with today’s press briefing by PremierHorgan, Education Minister Fleming and Finance Minister James.

Today at noon, the provincial government announced that all in-class instruction in BC schools will be suspended indefinitely. Very few details were provided. The government did indicate that they will be working with school districts to plan for the maintenance of some level of educational service, a promise that every student will receive a final mark for this year, some graduation assessments were being postponed and students would be able to progress to the next grade level, or graduate, as usual at the end of this school year. I expect a more formal announcement from the provincial government to come out either later today or tomorrow. I recognize that this announcement creates a tremendous number of questions. What does this suspension of in-class instruction mean for our students, our school and district staff, families, and our community as a whole? It is obvious that one question leads to another.

We have already been working behind the scenes to anticipate a number of possible scenarios. As we now liaise with the government over the implications of their announcement on school districts, we will have a better idea of what this means for Saanich Schools families over the next few days and weeks. We are fortunate to have strong connections with other BC school districts, as well as with the Ministry of Education – sharing ideas, information and resources to make this transition to a temporary ‘new normal’ as smooth as possible. Undoubtedly, there will be bumps along the way. However, as a collective district, we have the skills, fortitude and professionalism to tackle the task ahead of us.

I want to reassure you that we have been, and are continuing to work as diligently as possible to best support our students, staff and families during this changing scenario. United and collaboratively we will find our pathway forward. My commitment to you is to share information in a timely fashion as well as to post it on our district website.

This is, indeed, an unprecedented time. We are living in a world when today doesn’t look like yesterday – where one day does not lead into the same pattern the next day. Having said that, we are also living in a community that is taking extraordinary measures to keep us informed and safe.

Thank you, again, for your understanding during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent of Schools

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COVID-19 INFORMATION UPDATE - Mar. 13, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your understanding as we work to ensure that our students and staff continue to be as safe as possible during this challenging time. Our goal is to provide you with the most current information on COVID-19 and its impact on us both locally and globally.

With the recent announcement by the World Health Organization of COVID-19 being classified as a pandemic, a number of new realities have emerged for us here in Saanich. This letter outlines some of the more pertinent issues that are affecting our school district.

Spring Break School Cleaning

Our schools will be undergoing a ‘deep clean’ over Spring Break that will include:

  • Extra sanitization on contact surfaces such as doorknobs, door bars, handrails, desks and tables.
  • Fogging of all schools with a probiotic cleaner. This sanitization process is safe for plants, animals and food surfaces. A bleach-based fogger will be used in school common areas.  Fogging of school buses will be done after Spring Break.

Spring Break Travel

As of March 12th, provincial health officials are strongly advising all British Columbians against nonessential travel outside of Canada. Should you and your family travel outside of the country there is now an expectation of self-quarantining for 14 days upon your return. As such, it is highly recommended that families remain in BC during the Spring Break period to avoid any potential interruption to your child’s schooling when we re-open.

A letter to parents from the Deputy Minister of Education can be found on our district website.

Talking to Your Children

A new virus such as COVID-19 can create anxiety and be difficult for children to understand, especially if someone in their school or family is sick or they observe troubling messages in the media. It is normal for children to feel worried and have questions. You can support your children by reassuring them about their personal safety and health. Telling them that it is okay to be concerned is comforting. Reassure them they are safe and there are many things they can do to stay healthy:

  • Wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home if they are not feeling well
  • Keep their hands away from their face and mouth
  • Eat healthy foods, keep physically active, and get lots of sleep

We have also prepared a more comprehensive guide for parents on how best to support your child during this uncertain time with COVID-19. There are suggestions for parents of children in Elementary, Middle and Secondary levels.

You can find the information here: Talking to your kids about COVID-19

COVID-19 Health Information Websites

At this time, the province has not issued any order to extend the Spring Break period. As this situation is fluid, it is important that parents continue to monitor the news as well as check our district website for the most current information.

Thank you, again, for your understanding during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent of Schools

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A Message from the Superintendent - COVID-19 Update - Mar. 9 , 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you are aware, the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has continued to impact countries around the world. Given the evolving nature of this health issue, we are sending parents and staff a current update, including how it may impact the many families who are looking forward to travelling this Spring Break. Understandably, there is a good deal of concern with respect to international travel, including international field trips and personal vacations. Public health officials are advising the public to reference Government of Canada travel health notices to inform decision making regarding their travel plans. Situations can change quickly, so checking the site regularly is strongly advised.

The public has been made aware there is an updated warning to avoid non-essential travel to Iran, Northern Italy and some areas of South Korea. In addition, some countries have enacted measures which restrict some movement and public gatherings. We are currently aware of school closures in Japan and Italy, as well as restrictions on public gatherings in France.

After careful consideration we have decided to cancel Saanich School District international field trips planned for Japan and Europe due to the possible elevated risk for students and staff travelling in these regions.

We are also asking parents and staff who are travelling overseas for personal travel to please consider that there may be a need for these travellers to be quarantined upon their return to Canada. Island Health is currently recommending that travelers returning from Iran, China and Italy self-quarantine for 14 days. Please note that these areas may change and expand as the situation evolves. We are working closely and take direction from our provincial health experts at the BC Ministry of Health and Island Health.

For more information on COVID-19, including ways to reduce your risk of infection, please refer to the following resources:

We thank you for your understanding during this difficult time. If you have any questions, please contact your school administration directly.

Sincerely,
Dave Eberwein
Superintendent of Schools

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