Taking steps to keep kids learning during in-class school suspension

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, B.C. has suspended all in-class instruction until further notice. This means as spring break ends, please do not send your children to school.

On Monday, March 30 parents will be receiving an emailed letter from SD83 with further information and initial learning opportunities for your child. Staff will be working this week to assess needs and further develop plans.
You will soon be contacted by telephone by your child’s teacher.

SD83 would also like to share this information received from the Ministry of Education:

New guidelines for school leaders and a new website are being introduced to support B.C.’s K-12 students while in-class education is suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a challenging time for families in B.C. as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is vital students have a sense of routine and continued opportunities to learn while they are at home,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “These guidelines will ensure the needs, health and safety of students are put first as school leaders actively plan to serve the unique needs of their communities.”

While in-person classes are suspended, the B.C. school system remains open to continue to support students and families in a variety of ways. Note that parents should not bring their children to school on Monday, March 30, 2020, as they usually would after spring break.

However, essential frontline health-care workers, like those directly involved in patient care, who need urgent care for their school-aged child the week of March 30 are advised to contact their school principal as soon as possible to discuss care arrangements available during the first week back after spring break. Other parents who are deemed an essential service worker and who may need child care for their school-age children can expect to hear from their school regarding care options by Friday, April 3, 2020. Schools will be doing their best to accommodate urgent child care needs while meeting the guidelines and directives of the provincial health officer.

Since there are many students who will have challenges working online, schools have been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs and circumstances of their communities. School leaders are actively working on these plans, and families will hear from their school superintendent and/or school principal in the coming week with an update on their timelines.

Government is working with all 60 school boards, independent school authorities, First Nations schools, teachers, school leaders, support staff, public health officials and all education partners on a co-ordinated approach. Guidelines for developing education plans for students will follow these principles:

  1. Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees.
  2. Provide the services needed to support children of essential workers.
  3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
  4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

These principles will also guide planning and support for students who need extra learning support or those with disabilities, important services like meal programs and child care services operating on school grounds.

“Boards of education across the province are working on ways to ensure continuity of learning in their communities,” said Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association. “Local boards of education understand the unique needs in each community. That local connection will be key as boards roll out plans tailored to each school district in the province.”

While teachers and schools will have primary responsibility for continuous learning, government has launched Keep Learning BC. This is a central place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, annotated links to free learning resources, as well as how to help children learn and how to ensure their well-being while they are at home. Keep Learning BC is available at: www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/

The Keep Learning BC website will have helpful guides to maintain routines and stay safe online, giving parents information about how talk to their children about COVID-19, along with other mental health resources to manage stress or anxiety. A comprehensive set of frequently asked questions is also available, with continuous updates about school services and programs as things progress: www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools/

Fleming added, “While it’s important for kids to keep learning, there is no expectation that we can duplicate a normal school day at home, and every family will need to figure out what works best for them, in discussion with their children’s teachers. I understand that many children are experiencing anxiety, while also missing their teachers and friends, and that’s why it’s important they know the actions we’re taking are designed to keep everyone safe, and we will return to regular school life down the road. By working together and supporting each other, we will get through this.”

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said, “We are proud of the parents, families and school communities who are working together to keep their children safely at home, and recognize how important it is for children to have continued learning opportunities in these challenging times. Parents who are health-care workers are also eagerly waiting for support, and it’s our job to work as a team to make sure they can continue their essential services.”

Quote:

Andrea Sinclair, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils —

“The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is truly appreciative of the united effort that is being undertaken across the education sector resulting in the continuity of an educational program while our children are at home. Parents understand that alternative instruction plans are being created to best meet the needs of children and that learning will vary by grade, district and region. As we try to maintain a daily routine in our homes, including academics and recreation, parents acknowledge that educators play a critical role supporting our children during this extraordinary time.”

Quick Facts:

  • On March 17, 2020, under the direction of the provincial health officer, all schools were ordered to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice. 
  • Every student in K-12 will receive a final mark for the 2019-20 school year, and all students who are on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall. Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this school year will also graduate. On average, about 45,000 students graduate every year.
  • The Ministry of Education is also working across government to ensure all students graduating high school will have a smooth transition to post-secondary education.

Learn More:

Students, parents, guardians and teachers can find learning resources and accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions at: www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools/

A new website is constantly being updated with the latest information: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19

The best source of COVID-19 health information can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

For non-health-related questions, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19, email servicebc@gov.bc.ca, or call 1 888 COVID-19

For those who think they have symptoms of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has developed an online self-assessment tool at: https://covid19.thrive.health
People with symptoms can also call 811 to pre-arrange health testing.

If children are struggling with a problem big or small, encourage them to call the Kids Help Line, a free resource available at 1 800 668-6868.

For a traditional Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Continued_Learning_during_COVID19_Mar27.Chinese.pdf

For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/COVID19_March27_Continued_Learning_during_COVID_Punjabi.pdf

The letter from the Government of B.C. can be found here

Playground, courts closed

School District No. 83 has joined other school districts and local governments across the province in closing its playgrounds to combat the spread of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, March 24 SD83’s playgrounds, tennis courts and sports courts at all SD83 sites will be closed. Pathways and fields remain open and the district urges all to follow the Provincial Health Officer’s requirements on physical distancing.

SD83 will continue to work to support Municipal, Provincial and Federal guidelines around everyone’s safety.

School, Travel and COVID-19

Late Thursday afternoon (March 12) we received some important information from the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry around schools and COVID-19.

LETTER FROM DEPUTY MINISTER SCOTT MACDONALD

  • First, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) advised that there is no plan at this time to close public schools in the province. It is therefore anticipated that public schools will remain open after spring break. The PHO advises that closing schools is not appropriate or advised at this time. Health Minister Dix added, public health officials will be working with stakeholders in the education sector during spring break to continue monitoring the pandemic and B.C.’s response to it.
  • Second, Dr. Henry strongly advised against all non-essential travel out of the country, including travel to the United States. She noted that those who do choose to travel out of the country will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
  • Finally, Dr. Henry also urged organizers to cancel any social gatherings consisting of more than 250 people, which would mean that any planned large school assemblies, concerts or other events should not proceed.

As this situation changes daily, if not hourly, we ask that you please ensure you check the school district’s website at http://www.sd83.bc.ca before students return from Spring Break on March 30th.

Here is the joint statement – https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0077-000484

SCHOOL CLOSURES – Important reminder on school closures: Decisions about school closures should made by public health officials in cooperation with school districts and the Ministry of Education. All schools should be following the school closure guidelines and protocols currently in place.

Pandemic Response Framework and Planning Guidelines https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/healthyschools/pandemic_response_framework.pdf 

While there have been a small number of school closures in B.C. this week, medical health officers have not advised that those steps are necessary.

 Useful Links

Spring Break and COVID-19

Letter from Superintendent/CEO Peter Jory

As we look forward to Spring Break and spending time with our families I am writing to give you share some updated information on the novel coronavirus (COVID‐19).

As knowledge of COVID-19 evolves, we continue to use information from Interior Health  & Health Canada to inform our recommendations to keep students and staff safe. With some families travelling internationally during Spring Break, we know that there may be an increased risk of the virus spreading.

We are also aware that some jurisdictions are closing schools and it is important that everyone stay apprised of any new developments. Therefore, we ask that parents please check our website for any updates before school resumes on March 30.

As advised by our health officials, anyone concerned about respiratory symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up. In the meantime, we are reminding everyone to follow proper respiratory hygiene etiquette during the cold and flu season. This includes:

  • Proper hand-washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled.
  • Do not touch your face/eyes/mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow.
  • Stay at home when you are sick

For more information on the virus please click on this link for the BC Centre of Disease Control

If you are planning an international trip with your family, please monitor the Government of Canada Travel Site for the latest travel advisories. COVID-19 is currently found in over 110 countries. The following travel advisories for COVID-19 have been issued (as of March 12, 2020):
• Level 3 Travel Advisory (Avoid Non‐essential Travel) for China, Italy, Iran
• Level 2 Travel Advisory (Practice Special Precautions) for Japan, South Korea
• Level 1 Travel Advisory (Practice Normal Precautions) for Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Spain and France.

The BC Provincial Health Office is now advising self-isolation for 14 days for people who have been to China, Italy and Iran in the last 14 days. The federal government has recommended that Canadians avoid all  cruise ship travel  due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

As such, please note that if your family travels to any location with a Level 2 or Level 3 travel advisory during Spring Break, you are being asked to self-quarantine your child for 14 days prior to returning them to school.

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We want to ensure parents, students and staff have time to adjust their plans accordingly. This is an evolving global situation, and as such we need to be prepared that between now and the end of Spring Break there likely will be more changes to the situation, which is why I am asking that you please visit our website before school begins on March 30 for any updates.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
Sincerely,

Peter Jory,
Superintendent/CEO of School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)

For more information about COVID-19 and complete newsletter: https://conta.cc/2TG1XVo

Meeting for 2021 trip to Ecuador

Students in grades 9-12 interested in taking part in the service learning trip with Me to We are invited to an information meeting on Thursday, March 11 at 6 p.m. at South Broadview Elementary Library.

At the Feb. 11 meeting it was determined the trip for 2021 would be going to Ecuador, as the original choice of Ethiopia was unavailable.

Those taking part in the trip will venture into the heart of Ecuador’s lush Amazonian rainforest, where you’ll find the world’s most diverse ecosystems. In Otavalo, you’ll experience the culture and heritage of the city, visiting the Mercados ds los Ponchos – a famous market known for its local beautiful textiles – and learning how traditional crafts and meals are prepared when you visit a local family’s home. As you’re immersed in the Quito and Otavalo cultures, you’ll also put your hands to work: building and restoring local schools and promoting social justice.

Check out the tour by clicking here

 If you need additional information before the meeting please contact Heather Gobbett at (250) 832-2167.