General news and announcements

From the Superintendent – Year-end Message to Parents/Guardians (June 23, 2021)

Dear Parents/Guardians,

First and foremost I want to say THANK YOU.  We are so fortunate here in Saanich to have a supportive parent and guardian community.  We have traversed the pandemic in large part due to the teamwork between home and school.   Thank you for your collaboration, patience and understanding as we worked through the challenges of the pandemic together.  I have heard from many schools about the support from their PAC, the spirit of generosity from parents in general and the feeling that we are together in this journey.  So, thank you.

THE PANDEMIC AND NEXT YEAR

There hasn’t been a year like this in my 33-year public education career.  Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has been both an enormous challenge, but also a time of celebration for how we forged creative new ideas in meeting the needs of students and families.  I am proud of our teachers, administrators, support staff and district office staff for their individual and collective efforts to meet this year’s challenges -- finding solutions to unique situations that popped up over these past 16 months.

On June 17th the provincial government announced that we can expect to return to full-time in-class learning in September.  And while specifics around health protocols will be confirmed later in the summer, they did announce that students will no longer be grouped into cohorts which will allow for normal timetabling in our schools.  We expect that things like assemblies, extracurricular activities and school sports will return this fall.  Specifics on things like mask-wearing, community gatherings and other health-related items will be confirmed sometime in late August.  The June 17th provincial media release can be found here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021EDUC0044-001180.  Island Health has asked us to remind families of the opportunity to have youth between the ages of 12-17 vaccinated this summer.  You can find more information on the Island Health COVID-19 Vaccine website

The Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, Education Minister, has written a year-end letter to all parents/guardians which you can find here: Minister Whiteside letter

Keep an eye on your email for any additional announcements about school opening from the district as we approach the end of August.

A TIME TO REMEMBER

As we head towards a summer of relaxing and recharging I also feel it is important for me to take a few moments on another topic.

As a society, we have had recent reminders of our collective need to battle intolerance and racism – to find a path forward where there is respect for everyone regardless of the colour of their skin, how they worship, their gender identity or whom they love.  We have seen a number of social movements rise up this past year against bigotry – things like Black Lives Matter and the Anti-Asian Hate campaigns.  Most recently there has been an outcry against the deaths of 4 people in Ontario who were struck down on a street corner simply because they were Muslim.  As a country, we still have much work to do to combat these intolerances and injustices.

215 – Kamloops Indian Residential School

The discovery of at least 215 children’s graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has been a stark reminder to all of us that our entire country has a past that is shameful and fraught with pain and suffering.   As a school district, we have a moral responsibility to not only remember this tragedy but to continue to find ways to teach about its history and its effects on Indigenous peoples across this land.  Our schools have held a number of ceremonies, tributes and actions in the days and weeks since the revelation that have been tremendously emotional and moving.  I recently posted a blog on my thoughts about the national tragedy of residential schools -- if you are interested in reading it, you can find it here: THE SHAMEFUL HISTORY OF RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS

Our collective, moral responsibility as an educational organization is to leverage these tragic reminders into actions that make a difference in our schools, our community and beyond.  Here in Saanich, we will continue in our efforts to bring awareness and action on the topics of intolerance and racism in the months and years ahead.

YEAR-END REFLECTIONS

My year-end reflections on this most tumultuous year can be found in my last blog post – I hope that you can find a few minutes to read it.  I have penned this one around my favourite theme of Star Wars as well as including something quite personal at the end: 2021 YEAR-END REFLECTIONS: THE SCHOOL YEAR, STAR WARS & MY DAD

Wishing you and your family a wonderful summer filled with relaxation and rejuvenation,

Sincerely,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

Family Communication System Update

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We believe timely and clear communication is an important part of our relationship with families.  To date, district communication home has been through the provincial student information database emails, however, we are beginning the process of transitioning to a new tool that will be more effective in communicating with you.  The new platform is called School Messenger.   School Messenger is used by many school districts across BC to effectively communicate with parents and guardians – especially for critical announcements such as weather closures or school lockdowns.  One of its advantages is its ability to use text, email or phone calls to contact parents.

To ensure that the rollout of this new platform is as smooth as possible, we are looking to confirm your contact information – in particular, your email and phone numbers. 

Your child(ren) will be bringing home access codes to a demographic confirmation we will be sending out shortly.  These secure ‘tokens’ will allow you to log into an online Saanich Schools tool to view, confirm or update your contact information.  Please note, the provincial student information system stores more than one record if you have multiple children in the district.  Please sign in with the token for each child to confirm your information.

In addition to the secure token, you will be asked two ‘challenge questions’ to confirm your identity and relationship to the student which will permit you to access the demographic information.  These questions may include asking for the student’s Personal Health Number which we may have on file.  Information collected through these challenge questions is not being stored but only being used for comparison to the information we have on file.

Thank you for helping ensure that your contact information is accurate so that we can move forward with the implementation of the School Messenger communication tool.  We hope to send our first message through the system by the end of the school year, in anticipation of using it more fully throughout the 2021/2022 school year.

 

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent

A Message from the Superintendent - Saanich Schools Response to the Tragedy in Kamloops (May 30 2021)

Good afternoon parents/guardians,

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this email to you today. 

The news from last Thursday of the discovery of at least 215 Indigenous children at the site of a former residential school near Kamloops is horrific as well as deeply emotional for many in our community and across Canada.  The tragedy of our country’s past injustices and unimaginable treatment of First Nations’ children and families is a stark reminder that we still have a long path ahead of us towards reconciliation.  It remains critical to continue to seek and share the Truth before any real Reconciliation is possible.

We are in communication with the local W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation to ensure that we are respectful in our acknowledgement and actions to this recent event. There will be staff, students and community members who are significantly impacted by this recent news and who will need support to navigate through things.  Ensuring that our actions are mindful of the traumatic nature of this event is critical.

Initial District Actions

  • All Canada and BC flags will be flown at half-mast from the morning of Mon May 31st to the evening of Fri June 4th

  • Staff and students are encouraged to wear ORANGE during the week of May 31st – June 4th

As a district, we are committed to ensuring that our responses are more than just wearing orange and lowering flags to half-mast.  We also have the obligation to commit to an educational focus in consultation with the local W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation community – one that responds not only to this tragic discovery, but also continues our moral obligation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. We are working with the Nation to produce educational resources that will allow students to engage in learning about this tragedy in ways that are trauma-informed, and age and culturally appropriate.  

Responding to Trauma

Each of us will be working through this tragedy in our own way.  Attached is a document from our provincial partner Safer Schools Together that you may find helpful with regards to recognizing trauma and helping your children who may be having some difficulty with this topic.

Additional Community Resources

The following is a list of resources and hotlines dedicated to supporting Indigenous people.

24/7 supports:

KUU-US Crisis Line  1-800-588-8717

Indian Residential School Survivors and Family  1-866-925-4419

Mon – Fri, 8am – 8 pm PT:

Weekends, 10 am – 2pm PT:

Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum Society  1-888-403-3123

Aboriginal Wellness Program  604-675-2551 or 1-866-884-0888

Canadian Mental Health Association - British Columbia Division  1-800-555-8222

HeretoHelp  1-800-661-2121

First Nations Health Authority – Mental Health Benefit  https://www.fnha.ca/benefits/mental-health

Métis Nation BC – Mental Health Services  https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/mental-health-substance-use/resources/kuu-us-crisis-line

Our district is a family who care deeply about each other and we will continue to do so through this very difficult time. 

Respectfully,

Dave Eberwein
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools

Budget Consultation 2021/22

The Board of Education of the Saanich School District invites you to participate in and contribute to the formation of our budget for 2021/22. Public participation in this process is important for the Board's adoption of a budget that reflects the values, beliefs and priorities of the community.

The Board of Education is seeking your input through the completion of a survey and participation in a virtual Community Budget Meeting on April 15th at 7 pm. The survey will be the primary tool for gathering feedback and closes on April 22, 2021 (end of the day).  The attached background document provides information on the Saanich School District and the 2021/22 budget context and facilitates the completion of the survey by those who are unable to attend the virtual meeting.

The survey is available on our website at https://www.sd63.bc.ca/202122-budget-consultation-survey

To participate in the virtual Community Budget Meeting beginning at 7 pm on April 15th, please contact Leigh Glancie at  or 250-652-7300 to be included in the meeting invitation.

We look forward to your participation in this important process.

Parent Engagement Evening

School District 63 and COPACS are pleased to welcome parents and guardians to join our 1st Annual Parent Engagement Evening: What is Mental Health? This evening will be an opportunity to explore Mental Health and hear about how this is supported within our schools. All parents are welcome to join with school and district leadership teams as we focus on this important conversation.

It will be held on March 11, 2021, from 7:00 - 8:30 pm as a virtual meeting.  Please sign up here

StrongStart Updates

Please see the Early Learning page for updated StrongStart information.

Kindergarten Registration for Fall 2021

Kindergarten Information Evening: 

January 7, 2021   7 - 8pm
Zoom Meeting - https://ca01web.zoom.us/j/6133683264

Kindergarten Registration at Catchment Schools - January 2021

Children born in 2016 are eligible to register for Kindergarten at your neighbourhood school.

French Immersion Kindergarten Lottery Registrations