Dear Parents / Guardians,
As you have likely heard from media reports, school opening is being delayed until Mon Jan 10th to allow schools time to organize for the next phase of our response to COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant. My message to you today includes some critical details about next week and weblinks to further information if you are interested.
School Opening Delayed Until Mon Jan 10th
The province recently announced a delay in school opening until Jan 10th. The vast majority of students will return to class on this date. This will allow time for Public Health and school districts to adapt to the impacts of the Omicron variant, and to implement enhanced safety plans to support the continuation of in-person learning. Safe and engaging in-person learning is known to have a positive impact on the intellectual, social and emotional development of children. As safety continues to be our highest priority, the time next week will provide us with the opportunity to ensure we continue to have these safe and engaging learning places for your children.
Students with Complex Physical or Health Care Needs
During the week of Jan 4th-7th, Saanich Schools will be open for students who have support needs requiring complex care for physical or health reasons as identified through their Individual Education Plan (IEP). Should your child require this type of support next week, please contact your school principal to determine how we may best be able to support you and your child. Please also indicate if you require school bus transportation. Once we know who will require bus service, we can schedule appropriate routes. We anticipate bus transportation for next week to be available on a modified schedule beginning Wed Jan 5th.
Supporting Health Care Workers
Health Care workers continue to be an essential part of our community’s capacity to respond to this pandemic. As such, Saanich Schools will be supporting parents who work in health care and other essential public service fields and require their children to be in school next week. Please contact your school principal directly if this situation pertains to you, including if you may need school bus transportation. We anticipate being able to provide limited bus transportation for next week beginning Wed Jan 5th.
Health & Safety Updates
Public Health continues to refine the expectations for the K-12 education sector. At this time, we have a number of updates and we anticipate further changes next week.
- Schools will be reinforcing existing safety measures:
- Reminding students about mask protocols.
- Reminding staff and students to conduct their own daily health checks and staying home if not feeling well.
- Avoiding crowding where possible, including class transition times.
- Cleaning and disinfecting schedules will continue on a daily basis.
- Hand washing / sanitizing will be reinforced.
- Changes to existing protocols include the following:
- School visitors will be limited to those persons who provide direct service to children or the school (e.g. district staff, student teachers, school meal program volunteers, etc.).
- Sports tournaments will be temporarily paused. Individual games and practices can still occur.
- School gatherings like assemblies will be virtual where possible, or at a maximum of 50% capacity in the gathering space.
- Staff meetings and professional development activities will be virtual when possible.
Our school district’s Communicable Disease Plan will be updated to reflect these changes and any others that may be announced in the days and weeks ahead. The plan is located on our school district website.
Public Health continues to reinforce the need for eligible persons to obtain vaccination against this virus. Information on the province’s COVID-19 vaccination program for children aged 5-11 can be found on their website.
Day Care / Before and After School Care
Please check with your specific provider if you access services that reside on school district properties. We anticipate most operators will be open next week, but it is essential that you contact them directly to confirm their availability.
We greatly appreciate the voices of support from our community as we navigate these unsettling times and thank you for your patience as we respond to this next curve in the road ahead. You can anticipate further communication from your child’s school in the days ahead as we prepare for re-opening on Jan 10th.
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools