COVID-19

COVID-19 Updates

Superintendent's COVID 19 Q&A - Grad 2020 Update

May 7, 2020 - Grad 2020 Update

Grade 12 students and parents,

This is an incredibly important time of year for you, our Grade 12 students, as we head into the commencement season. I have prepared a brief video message which outlines our district and school plans to celebrate this important milestone in your lives. This is the first of several messages to come about graduation. You can expect your school to be following up with you in the coming days.

We look forward to celebrating with you.

To ask Superintendent Dave Eberwein questions about Saanich School District's COVID-19 response and planning, please email

To view all previous videos, click here

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A Message for Parents from the Superintendent (May 8, 2020)

Good morning parents,

Earlier this week, Premier Horgan announced a 4-phase plan to ‘Restart BC’— to return to a more familiar economic environment.  There was some preliminary information for what this may mean for BC’s public schools, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what we know so far.  BC’s Restart Plan has four distinct phases.  You can find the entire plan HERE if you are interested in reading the document.  

I’ve summarized the plan below for your information:

PHASE 1 - Where We Are Today

PHASE 2 - Mid-May Onwards

PHASE 3 - PHASE 3 – June to September (assuming virus transmission rates remain low)

PHASE 4 - TBD

As you can see from the above charts, changes to public schools are anticipated in PHASE 3 of the plan (June).  I want to stress that at this time, there is no definitive date for restarting in-class instruction nor any detailed specifics on that reintegration.  There is some anticipation that students in Grades K-5 may return part-time in some form and students in Grades 6-12 may also be able to access some classes as needed.  But, we are waiting for more information from the government in some important areas, including:

  • Any updated health and safety requirements for re-engaging more students in our schools (e.g. physical distancing, cleaning, the spacing between desks, handwashing, etc.)
  • Specific guidelines on what returning part-time in school may look like for our students including the option of continuing in remote learning

I want to reassure everyone that we will continue to put as our first priority the health and safety of our students and staff.  Nothing is more important than ensuring we are following the required expectations from the Provincial Health Officer (Dr. Bonnie Henry) so that we can continue to provide your children with a safe, nurturing and productive learning environment.

I am incredibly proud of the work that our staff has done to provide an educational experience for your children during this tumultuous time.  I also want to thank all of you, our parent community, for your patience and understanding as we worked through this significant adjustment to teaching and learning.

I look forward to providing you with timely updates as we continue our journey through the months ahead together.

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

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OUR FIRST WEEK BACK – SOME UPDATES (Mar 31, 2020)

Dear Parents / Guardians;

First, I want to thank all of you for your continuing understanding and patience as we build the Saanich Schools continuity of learning plan behind the scenes.  Many people have been working very long hours building a solid foundation from which to launch our new remote learning reality.  The purpose of my email today, is to outline some of the district-wide updates that pertain to that plan as well as give you some other information that you might find helpful. 

Remote Learning

I have heard some people describe this new learning reality we are entering as “On-line Learning”.  We are not heading into an on-line learning environment, but instead are looking at teaching in a new emergency remote learning reality (A phrase I heard used by one of my colleagues).  We have been tasked with turning an entire education system on-a-dime to something that looks very different than it did before Spring Break.  It is going to take different forms for different learners and different teachers – not just because we have students who range from 5-19 years of age, but also because we have different courses, programs, learning styles and student needs.  Some teachers are already using webpages, blogs and other electronic teaching tools, whereas others have been using more traditional means.  As we move into this new normal, expect to see a variety of approaches being taken to provide your children with an educational program that addresses their academic and social-emotional needs in their grade, course or program.  It is definitely a work in progress – but a challenge that we are definitely ready to tackle.  The energy and enthusiasm from our staff is palpable. 

Contacting Students & Families

As we return from Spring Break, teachers have been meeting with each other and their administrators to plan their approaches to this new learning reality.  Teachers and administrators will also be reaching out to families this week to have a ‘check-in’.  You can expect that every family will have been contacted by the end of the week.

Remote Learning Resources for Parents

In Saanich Schools, we have been busy developing an electronic resource library for our educators, but we have also not forgotten about our parent community.  We realize that parents may not have the expertise, knowledge or time to provide extended assistance to their children as we begin this new journey into remote learning.  As such, we have selected multiple resources that parents can access in one convenient location – resources that are available to you at no cost, aligned with many curriculum goals and objectives, and readily available to help you explore new learning with your children. 

On our new webpage, you will find resources on such things as:

  • Social-emotional Learning
  • Online books and Audiobooks
  • Math, Coding and Computational Thinking
  • Physical Activity
  • Arts and Culture
  • Science
  • Information, Videos and Games
  • Additional Resources

You will also be able to see the multiple resources selected for teachers.  Many of these are subscription-based and available only to our staff – however, we wanted you to see the library that we have been collecting.  You can access the parent resource library at the following public website: https://learn.saanichschools.ca/ .  Once at the webpage, click on RESOURCES and then PARENT/GUARDIAN.   There is also a quick link at the bottom of the webpage.  We hope that you will find this curated list of resources useful as we know you are also wondering how you can help support your child’s learning.  The list is being regularly updated. 

The Ministry of Education has also launched a resource site for parents called Keep Learning – Suggestions for parents and caregivers to keep their children learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.  There are some helpful ideas in this site as well.

bc211

A service provided by the United Way is now available to all BC families who have community-based questions about COVID-19.  Bc211 is a free, confidential help resource that connects people to local government and social services in our community – services like mental health supports, or income and financial assistance.  It’s available by calling or texting 2-1-1 or going online to bc211.ca.  This service is funded by United Way and is available 24/7, 365 days a year with phone service in over 160 different languages.

Provincial Government COVID-19 Website

The government has also launched a new website for parents that includes updates on COVID-19 and its impact on schools.  You can find it here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/program-management/safe-caring-and-orderly-schools

The Power of Why – My Blog Space

I have not been able to get to my professional blog (The Power of Why) as often as I have wanted to lately, but I did want to write on this current crisis we are confronting and what it means when you bring a team together in a time of crisis.  You can read my latest blog entry Sunshine in a Time of Crisis here: https://thepowerofwhy.ca/2020/03/31/sunshine-in-a-time-of-crisis/

Superintendent Q & A

I will be beginning a new Q & A section on our district webpage where parents, staff and students are able to write in to ask me questions about our new educational reality.  I am planning to select several of these questions and provide answers back approximately once or twice per week – likely in a video format.  Stay tuned for more information as we hope to launch it in the near future.

Thank You

Thank you for the kind wishes of support and understanding as we make this significant transformation in a very short period.  We are a community who cares for each other and will rally together in times of need.  I can feel the positive energy from our staff and from our community as we work to find our new normal.  As always, we continue to update our own district website with new information – be sure to check back regularly: https://www.sd63.bc.ca/ .

Together we’ve got this!

Dave Eberwein

Superintendent, Saanich Schools

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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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