March 27, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has changed our world in ways that we could not have imagined even four weeks ago. As a school district, our hearts are with our students, staff and community as we all come to terms with what the crisis means to each of us.
For our students, there is a realization that the sudden pause on in-class instruction means they are not going to see their teachers and friends for a while. Our students can’t visit with their friends and extended family outside their homes. They may be lonely. Furthermore, your children may be aware, confused and possibly frightened as they see and hear the impact of the daily news. Some of our students are particularly vulnerable when their routines and supports are not presently in place as they have come to expect. Our Grade 12 students have many questions about their academic standing as they prepare to enter the next phase of their life. They will have the frustration and disappointment of their final year being disrupted, and the uncertainty over graduation celebrations. All of this is weighing on our students.
Parents and caregivers, you are facing pressures that most of us never have – the struggling economy, job uncertainty, child-care concerns, and the responsibilities of keeping your family healthy and safe.
Our staff are also juggling many things, professionally and personally. They have many questions about work expectations and how to support their students when face-to-face classroom instruction is not possible at this time. Individually, they are worried, like you, about their health and well-being and that of their loved ones. Many are parents of our students, and many have parents and relatives themselves who may be vulnerable in this pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis has created a level of anxiety for us all. In our current context, relationships and connections are critical. Accordingly, our first effort as a district will be to reach out to our students, and to you as parents and guardians, so that we can all know that we are okay and in this together. Educational planning is next and our staff will put their training, creativity and dedication into this as a team. All of this takes time, but the time is well spent to make sure that we do it well.
As we move forward in our planning and decision-making, the Ministry of Education has directed school districts to prioritize, in this order, the following principles:
1. Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students and families, and all employees.
2. Provide services to support the children of essential workers.
3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.
The school system is part of a bigger solution during this COVID-19 pandemic. The B.C. government is calling on us to do our part, to provide educational and child-care services so that essential services workers can continue to do their jobs – preserving life, health and public safety. Our health-care system needs us and it is our civic duty and role as public servants to stand together and collectively support the efforts of our front-line workers. The Sunshine Coast School District will step up and respond to this call with professionalism, compassion and commitment while keeping our staff and community safe.
Principals, Vice Principals and district staff have been working this week to prepare for the return to work. The vast majority of our staff will be working from their homes in order to be fully compliant with the community expectations of staying at home. Those who absolutely need to be physically present at our schools will exercise the highest degree of physical distancing and hygiene practices.
Over the coming days you can expect that:
· Principals will be sending a message to their staff and school families on Friday, March 27th;
· Staff will be reconnecting on Monday, March 30th;
· School and district staff will be connecting with their students/ families from Tuesday to Friday;
· Throughout the week, staff will be developing strategies to support the continuation of learning. We will provide updates to families as we move along in this process.
For clarity, please note:
· In-class instruction for all K-12 students in B.C. has been suspended and students are not to attend school at this time. If you have emergent and/or specific questions, please contact your school Principal/Vice Principal by email. All email addresses can easily be found on the school websites.
· Our district will adhere to all expectations regarding social/physical distancing; school Principals will establish a process and schedule over the next two weeks for the collection of any critical resources and personal items in a way that is safe and controlled. Any other access to the school is limited to essential school staff only.
District updates are posted on this district website. Please check the site for Ministry information regarding COVID-19, continuity of education and other related resources.
I wish our students, their families, our staff and our community safety, good health and wellness as we move through this apart, but never more together.