August 6 – School Start-up Information

August 6, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians;

The BC Ministry of Education, under the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced that all schools in BC will reopen in Stage 2 of a Five Stage Framework for K-12 Education (see below).

Stage 2 is a full return to in-class instruction for all students for the maximum time possible. We look forward to K-12 students having access to full-time, in-class instruction in September.

To lower the number of in-person contacts, students will be grouped into cohort groups or learning groups. For elementary-students this group size is 60 including students and adults. For Secondary Schools, the group size is 120.

In our elementary schools, students will mainly be in their classroom with their teacher. For outside recess and outside lunch times, students will be with their assigned cohort group which will be their class with one other class. Physical distancing and proper hand hygiene will be stressed. Recess and lunch times will be staggered for us to accomplish this.

In our secondary school, we are working on the timetable so that students will also be in cohort or learning groups for their classes and remain with the same students as much as possible throughout the day or have the ability to physical distance with smaller student numbers. Lunch times will be staggered. The timetabling changes are not yet complete so more information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

We will remain focused on maintaining a healthy and safe environment for all students, families, teachers, and staff. Health guidelines will be followed as they were in June with physical distancing; increased janitorial services for extra cleaning of classrooms and high-touch areas; frequent hand washing and access to hand sanitizer; hallway flow management; and no assemblies or large gatherings. Parents, guardians, and community members are asked to use school doorbells or phone for appointments to enter the school. Parents will be asked to monitor their children daily for symptoms and not send students to school if they are sick (see attached checklist). Anyone who is sick will not be allowed in school.

Students and staff are not required to wear masks in school but non-medical masks will be provided upon request for use in situations where the person is interacting with someone outside of their learning group and cannot maintain physical distance for an extended period of time. It is not recommended for young children to wear masks as masks can be irritating and can lead to increased touching of the face and eyes. Older students will be asked to wear non-medical masks when riding on the bus. More information on what grades will be included for mask wearing on buses will be forthcoming. It is recommended that students and staff have a non-medical mask or face covering available at school, so it is accessible should they become ill.

Parents and caregivers of immune compromised children are encouraged to speak to their health-care provider to determine their child’s level of risk so that their needs can be accommodated.

Parents who do not want their child to attend in-person classes have the option to register their child for online and distributed learning (correspondence) or home-schooling.

We are working to have a smooth and safe school start up but we are still receiving new information weekly and do not have all of the answers to every question. You will be receiving more information as our school plans are finalized. Please be aware that as always during these COVID-19 times, plans may need to change and if necessary, the Public Health Officer will advise public schools to change back to Stage 3 or 4 with increased at home learning depending on the provincial COVID-19 numbers.

Yours truly,

Diana Samchuck
SD 81 Fort Nelson