COVID-19: Sharing Information
- Joint Letter for Parents/Caregivers from the Minister of Education, Rob Fleming and the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils President, Andrea Sinclair (March 27th, 2020)
- March 27th Letter to Families from the Superintendent of Schools.
- On March 17, 2020, under the direction of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Government directed all K-12 schools to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice.
- The Ministry’s expectation is that children of Essential Service Workers (ESWs) and vulnerable students shall be prioritized for learning support.
- An Integrated Planning Framework is being created and shared on Friday, March 27th by the Ministry to support the school district in developing plans to deliver educational opportunities and support. Beginning Monday, March 30th, school and district staff will use this as a guide for our next steps.
- All user group bookings at School District 46 facilities have been suspended indefinitely to ensure physical distancing.
- All playgrounds and basketball courts on School District 46 property are closed until further notice in order to support best hygiene practices and physical distancing.
- At least until Monday, March 30th, the schools are not to be accessed by students or staff. This measure is in place to support best hygiene practices and physical distancing.
- Please do not return to school to pick up resources or personal effects. A plan will be prepared by each school during the week of March 30th to allow for the safe pick up of resources and personal belongings for staff and students. Your school principal will provide further instructions next week.
- The School Board Office is closed for in-person visits until further notice and staff across the district are working from home whenever possible.
- Board Meetings will be conducted via Zoom and will be broadcasted live via the SD46Schools youtube channel.
- Where can I receive up to date information from trusted sources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, BC and the Sunshine Coast?
- For parents and guardians, a new government website has been launched with up-to-date non-clinical information on COVID-19.
- British Columbians can also use the new provincial phone service by calling 1-888-COVID19, available seven days a week from 7:30AM to 8PM, with information in over 110 languages. Specific public health questions re: COVID-19 should be directed to your local health authority for response.
- Sunshine Coast Physician Task Force Community Updates
- BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool
- Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
- BC Centre for Disease Control – Information on COVID-19
- HealthLink BC – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- 5 Steps to Managing COVID-19 Stress, Anxiety and Depression
- When do learning opportunities for students begin?
- We will be putting in place learning opportunities for students as soon as practically possible, no later than mid-April. We will be taking the time over the coming weeks to develop plans for how ongoing learning opportunities can be provided to students.
- We will communicate with parents as soon as possible about the learning opportunities that will be made available to students and when parents can expect to receive more information.`
- Should I be creating a learning program for my child now?
- There is no need to create a learning program for your child at this time (please see answer to question above for learning opportunities that are being created by our staff for your child). As always, we strongly encourage parents to talk, read, and write with their children. For more ideas on what you can do right now, check out the ‘resources for families’ tab.
- What if I don’t have access to technology or the internet for learning online?
- We will be providing a wide range of ideas to support our students’ learning. Some of those may involve technology and we will be working with our technology department to support our families. Details to be developed by our staff.
- Should I return my borrowed learning materials (text books, library books etc.) to the school?
- We will be sharing information in the weeks to come regarding materials that need to be returned or picked up as we develop our learning plans for students.
- Should I return my rented band instrument to the school?
- No. Please keep your rented band instruments at home. We hope your child will continue to practice and further direction on instruction will be forthcoming.
- Who are Essential Service Workers (ESW)?
- Essential Service Workers (ESWs) are those individuals considered critical to preserving life, health and societal functioning – including emergency responders, front-line health care workers, and critical infrastructure and supply chain workers. Tier1: (health care workers and/or emergency responders): o Hospital Employee o Medical Services o Pharmacist o Law Enforcement o Fire Service o Paramedic Service Tier2: workers supporting vulnerable populations (e.g. social workers, income assistance workers); utilities workers and workers supporting key supply chain functions (e.g. grocery store workers, warehouse workers) o Social Worker o Income Assistance Worker o Utilities Worker o Grocery Store Worker o Warehouse Worker Tier3: o Child care workers who do not have access to child care and who are providing care or instruction to children of ESWs.
- The Ministry has also posted an FAQ document to help you with your most pressing questions.
- Continuity of Education:
- During the week of March 30th, staff will be putting a plan in place to reconnect students with their learning and offer a support program for vulnerable students and students (ages 5-12) whose parents/caregivers are Essential Service Workers (ESW).
- By April 3rd, teachers will have connected with every students’ parent/caregiver to review and support the needs of our students.
- Essential Service Workers will be identified and a learning and care program for their children will be developed.
- Continuity of Education:
Uncertainty is hard for most people, yet there are simple and practical ways to cope with even the most difficult situations. Research shows that coping with stress builds resilience and can make us stronger. People in our community and around the world are helping each other, working together, showing kindness, and trying to be creative in addressing the problems we are facing.
Here are some ways to help yourself and your family during this time:
- Self-Compassion – Fear is a natural response to a pandemic such as this. Try to be kind to yourself if you are feeling more worried or anxious than usual.
- Self-Care – It remains important to engage in healthy and relaxing activities that you enjoy. Consider a wide variety of fun, intellectually stimulating, and physically active options such as reading for professional growth or leisure, cooking, practicing yoga, exercising, meditating, and spending time in nature.
- Connection – Stay connected with family and friends through virtual visits.
- Routines – Keeping similar routines and developing healthy new routines helps provide predictability and a sense of safety for you and your family.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be a very stressful and frightening time for our children. While it is important to remember that fear and anxiety about disease is normal, excessive worry is not. There are many things we can do as parents to support our children during these extraordinary times. When talking to our children about the current situation, a solutions-focussed approach is helpful.
Things to keep in mind when having discussions with children include:
- Many individuals and organizations (governments, doctors, nurses, schools etc.) are helping during the current situation.
- It will get better.
- Life will return to normal.
- Let’s focus on caring for our family, friends, and community.
- Positive Focus – Try to shift the dialogue away from the negative and toward what we can be grateful for in this time.
- Talk and Listen and Model – Take the time to talk to your child or teen about COVID-19 in an age-appropriate way. Reassure your child or teen that they are safe, and share your own strategies for coping with stress. Model for them how to be resilient and health.
Supporting All Children and Youth
- Routines are important and can help to create a sense of predictability and security.
- Some examples of routines include scheduling daily academic time, outdoor activities, and family time.
- Focus on the moment. Mindful breathing is very helpful.
- Model calmness, routine, and a focus on family and friends.
- It is appropriate to provide a fact-based discussion on the changing landscape of COVID-19. This discussion should be done in a calm and reassuring tone conveying the message that we are safe. We take precautions, but we are safe. Listen, provide age-appropriate information and focus on prevention (frequent hand-washing, social distancing etc.).
- Focus on the positive and encourage children to do the same. Rather than feeling stuck inside, for example, see it as an opportunity to focus on family and home.
Supporting Older Students
- Limit social media and news consumption. Create a window of time to check the news together rather than watching it all day.
- Consult accurate information from reliable sources
- Limit exposure to the news;
- Watching news that repeatedly emphasizes both the rapid spread of coronavirus and lack of effective treatment makes people feel anxious and dis-empowered. Anxious thoughts include those that suggest the worst case scenario and our inability to cope with that. This news coverage feeds that faulty thinking.
- Moderate the amount of gaming time.
- Eat as nutritiously as is possible. Make balanced meals you can prepare together.
- Try to ensure older students are getting enough sleep (sleepfoundation.org).
Supporting Younger Students
- Younger students may show their stress in different ways, for example: crying, irritation,
‘acting out,’ reduced attention and concentration, regression to an earlier are such as bed-wetting, and ceasing activities that they previously enjoyed.
- Here are some strategies to help reduce stress in younger students:
- More time with trusted adults
- Increased play time, inside and out (if possible)
- Quiet times to read books, listen to music, do puzzles, and play board games
- Adequate sleep
- Children, teens or adults who have mental illness or addiction should continue to seek support.
- Many counsellors are continuing their work on the phone or online.
- Local supports in the community are ongoing, but support may look different. (see below for phone numbers)
- There are helplines and online tools and apps (please see below for a few ideas).
- Have a safety plan and ensure that youth and children know they are not alone.
Phone Numbers/Crisis Resources
Mental Health Resources for Children and Youth are available during this time. Supports may look different, but they are still working to support families and children with mental health during this unprecedented time. Please use the links below for local resources and contact information.
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868/https://kidshelpphone.ca
- Youth in BC – distress line: 1-866-661-3311/https://youthinbc.com
- 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- 310-Mental Health – 310-6789
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Helpline for Children: 310-1234 (toll free)
- Kidsafe BC
- Emergency Response: 911
Apps (Click on Hyperlink below):
Supportive Resources – websites, apps, helplines and other phone numbers
Please click on the Hyperlink Below
- Here to Help – BC – Covid-19 and Anxiety
- Centre for Disease Control – Mental Health and COVID-19
- Kelty Mental Health
- UNICEF – Mental Health & Teens for COVID-19
- Canadian Psychological Association-Fact Sheet: Psychological Impacts
- Harvard University- Managing Fears and Anxiety around COVID-19
- Teen Mental Health
- Anxiety Canada
- Bounce Back- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Talking to Children about COVID-19- Parent Resource from National Association of School Psychologists
- Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus- Child Mind Institute
- CBC Kids News: Busting Myths about the Coronavirus
- Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): What to Talk About with Your Child
- First Nations Health Authority: Novel
- Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Students, parents, guardians and teachers can find learning resources and accurate, timely information about schools at www.openschool.bc.ca/KeepLearning. You can also find a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions that will be continuously updated as things progress at www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools/.
- Learning takes place everywhere and in every ‘task’. Make meals together, bake, play board games, garden, paint/draw, learn/practice an instrument, free play in nature, and remember to allow for personal time for everyone in the family to decompress and choose a quiet activity of their choice. There is no expectation to follow a similar timeline as the school bell schedule. There is a lot of room for flexibility to follow your child’s interests!
- There are many apps that support learning, mental health, and family connection. Stay connected to family and friends through video messaging. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp all offer group video chat features. YouTube offers many free how-to videos from child yoga to lego builds. Take a virtual tour of museums, zoos and theme parks. Also, Audible.ca is currently offering free audio children stories for kids of all ages.
- Technology can be a supportive tool right now, but remember to also step away from it and get curious and discover with your children what is right in your home space or surrounding natural environment.
- For younger children, the SD46 StrongStart team has been posting story time videos on the SD46 Early Learning Facebook page. Check it out daily for the latest story post!