Education During Covid-19
The updated provincial guidelines for K-12 settings cover many topics, including mask use, hand hygiene, vaccinations, regional responses to the pandemic, cleaning, ventilation, gatherings, extracurricular activities, meal programs and sports:
- Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K to 12 Settings
- BCCDC COVID-19 Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K to 12 School Settings
- B.C.’s K to 12 Education Recovery Plan
Other helpful links:
- BC Ministry of Education Covid-19 Safe Schools
- Provincial and Regional Restrictions and Orders
- BCCDC Data for K-12 Schools | Monthly Situation Reports
- For more information on COVID-19, please visit http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/about-covid-19
- For more information on testing, please visit http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/covid-19-testing
- For more information on COVID-19 and VCH school exposures, please visit: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/school-exposures
- For more information on COVID-19 and key information for school contacts, please visit: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/forcontacts
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
Supportive Resources – websites, apps, helplines and other phone numbers
- 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)
erase = expect respect & a safe education
ERASE is a government of British Columbia strategy with the goals of building safe and caring school communities. This includes empowering students, parents, educators and the community partners who support them to get help with challenges, report concerns to schools, and learn about complex issues facing students.
Kelty Mental Health
If you are concerned about your child or a child you care for, the BC Children’s Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre has resources to support you. You will find information on key topics that parents and caregivers often have questions about. This includes some first steps you can take if you are concerned about your child, how to navigate through the different options for treatment and support in BC, information on different medications for mental health challenges and how to connect with a parent peer support worker at the Kelty Centre. Whether it’s information, tools, or a listening ear you are looking for, the Kelty Centre there to help.
Foundry BC, BC Children’s Hospital
Foundry supports young people aged 12-24 and their families with easy access to care. Whether a young person needs support for anxiety or depression, wants to see a family doctor or is struggling with a stressful situation, we will help them get the services they need. Foundry makes it easy for young people to find youth-friendly, welcoming and appropriate services – by simply walking into their local Foundry centre, accessing Foundry’s virtual services, or by exploring the tools and resources online at foundrybc.ca. Foundry reaches young people earlier – before their health concerns have a severe impact on their health and well-being.
FamilySmart® comes along-side young people and families to provide support, navigation assistance and information and then invites them and professionals to come-alongside each other to learn with and from each other to enhance the quality of experiences and services for child and youth mental health.
Virtual Mental Health Supports
The BC Government has collated a comprehensive list of virtual services for British Columbians who are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges.
Vancouver Coastal Health
Child and Youth Mental Health
Child and Youth Mental Health Services provide free-of-charge assessment, treatment, consultation, therapy and parent education for children and youth experiencing mental health challenges. Services are available to children and youth who live in the areas served by Vancouver Coastal Health and may include nurses, counsellors, occupational therapists, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, social workers and support staff.
Social Emotional Learning Resources
Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
According to CASEL, social and emotional learning starts at home. Parents and families are critical partners in helping their children develop social and emotional know-how. They can model the kinds of skills, attitudes, and behaviors we want all students to master. And they can be important advocates for SEL at school. The following resources support your child’s social and emotional well-being.
Building SEL Skills at Home Edutopia
There are many ways parents can encourage emotionally intelligent behavior in their children. Check out this guide to resources for learning more about character development.
MindUp at home offers resources to help parents and kids to reduce stress and anxiety and to improve their brain fitness and resilience. The MindUp at home resource provides webinars for parents to support SEL skills at home. There are also lots of wonderful kid friendly videos that teach the skills and strategies to help your child learn how the mindful brain works and teaches concepts such as gratitude, optimism, and kindness.
Committee For Children
Everyday challenges are part of life. Providing your love and support is the most important step in helping children develop the confidence to overcome anything they face. Committee for Children has collaborated with Sesame Workshop to bridge the divide between what children learn in school and what they learn at home with their families. Sesame Street’s Little Children, Big Challenges initiative provides tips and strategies to help adults and children (ages 2 to 5) navigate challenges and build lifelong skills for resilience.
Canadian kids need active bodies to build their best brains. In order for them to reach their full mental, emotional and intellectual potential, their bodies have to move to get the wheels in their brains turning! This ParticipACTION App has great ideas for home activities content for the whole family!
Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, and can be done at almost any time. Dr. Dzung Vo and Dr. Jake Locke from BC Children’s Hospital have recorded some of the mindfulness meditations that they use in the mindfulness groups they offer at BC Children’s Hospital. Feel free to download these recordings and listen to them from your computer or mobile device.
The volunteer task force will try to help community members to connect with the organizations who are responding to the special needs arising from the COVID-19 crisis. The Sunshine Coast Community Task force is a team of dedicated volunteer and community organizations working together to connect the people and the resources they need during the current crisis.
The Sunshine Coast Child and Youth Medical and Mental Health Town Hall took place on May 21st. Below is the recording of the event and resources for families.
- Child and Youth Medical and Mental Health Resources
- Sunshine Coast Resources: Website Links
- CYMHSU: Managing Anxiety and Stress in Families with Children and Youth During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- FamilySmart Brochure
- Recording of April 2020 Mental Health Town Hall Meeting
Youth Vaping During COVID-19
The McCreary Centre Society has released a research paper on youth vaping during COVID-19. In June, September, and December 2020, 28 youth researchers from across BC collected over 3,500 surveys from their peers about their experiences with vaping during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report of the findings, Youth vaping during COVID-19: BC youth’s experiences during the pandemic is available to download here. Youth researchers created an infographic poster to share the results with parents/caregivers.
This video was created by Russell Teibert, Vancouver Whitecaps Captain and McCreary Board Member. In the video, Russell shares with youth what he’s learned through sport about life, facing adversity, and finding the people in your community who can help you succeed.
BC Children’s Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre 2-part webinar series on Challenges with School Attendance where the presenters talk about anxiety and related challenges that can be a barrier to attending school, as well as practical strategies to help things go more smoothly.
The BC Centre for Disease Control has released their report on Impact of School Closures on Learning, Child and Family Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Regulating Emotions Resources:
SD46 continues to ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards.
SD46 school filters have been upgraded to MERV 13. A small number of buildings, that do not have HVAC systems, like portables, have been upgraded with air filtration and heat exchangers to bring in fresh air.
Where and when it is feasible, doors and windows will be open to provide a flow of air through spaces.
Outdoor classes will still be encouraged, based on their health and learning benefits.
Ventilation System Overviews:
- Cedar Grove Elementary
- Davis Bay Elementary
- Gibsons Elementary
- Halfmoon Bay Elementary
- Kinnikinnick Elementary
- Langdale Elementary
- Madeira Park Elementary
- Roberts Creek Elementary
- West Sechelt Elementary
- SPIDER – Community Learning Centre
- Chatelech Secondary
- Elphinstone Secondary
- Pender Harbour Secondary
- SCAS – Heritage Learning Centre
- SCAS – Sunshine Building
- School Board Office
Archive of SD46 School Exposures:
|School Name||Date(s) of Exposure||For this case, self-monitor for symptoms until|
|Elphinstone Secondary||January 7th and 11th||January 25th|
|Chatelech Secondary||January 26th||February 9th|
|Chatelech Secondary||January 13th, 14th, 18th, 21st, and 25th||14 days from last exposure date|
|Elphinstone Secondary||March 9th and 11th||March 25th, Midnight|
|House of Red Cedar Indigenous Covid-19 Outreach Program||April 6th||April 20th|
|Sunshine Coast Alternative School||April 19th||May 4th|
|Chatelech Secondary||April 26th and 27th||May 11th|
|Chatelech Secondary||April 22, 23, 26, 27th||May 11th|
|Chatelech Secondary||April 26-28th (inclusive)||May 12th|
|Chatelech Secondary||May 6th||May 20th|
|Elphinstone Secondary||May 6th and 7th||May 21st|
|Elphinstone Secondary||May 10th||May 24th|
|Elphinstone Secondary||May 11th||May 26th|
|West Sechelt Elementary||May 11th||May 25th|
|West Sechelt Elementary||May 10th and 11th||May 25th, midnight|
BC Ministry of Education:
October 1, 2021: Expanded health, safety measures for K-12 students
June 17, 2021: Recovery Plan investment supports safe K-12 return
March 29th, 2021 | Three-Week Circuit Breaker
February 4, 2021: Enhanced Safety Measures for K-12 Schools
December 17th, 2020: Honourable Minister Jennifer Whiteside’s letter of introduction and holiday greetings for parents and caregivers.
September 3rd, 2020: New federal funding builds on plans for a safe back to school
August 26th, 2020: Detailed plans support safe return to classroom
August 17, 2020: K-12 operational guidelines set requirements for masks
School District 46 – Sunshine Coast:
October 6th, 2021: VCH & SD46 Expanded Mask Mandate FAQ
March 31, 2021: Superintendent Letter to Families
March 10th, 2021: Superintendent’s Letter to Families
September 24th, 2020: SD46 & VCH Town Hall Q&A Recording
September 21st, 2020: Letter to Families re: Protocols for CV19 School Exposures
September 11th, 2020: SD46 Superintendent’s Update
August 27th, 2020: SD46 Options and Survey
August 13, 2020: Superintendent’s Update: 08/13
July 29, 2020: September Start-Up
- BCCDC Impact of School Closures Report: Impact of School Closures on Learning, Child and Family Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The findings of the report speaks to how important it is to have face to face supports for our children, especially those with diverse abilities. It also confirms why as a school district we have been proactive and diligent to have solid processes in place and resources to support our diverse learners whether they are present at school or remote learning. Ideally, we want all of our students, especially those with diverse needs, to be back at school so that we can provide the safe space and specialized services in an optimal environment. However, we also understand that for a variety of good reasons some students need to stay at home. Therefore, we continue to be creative whichever option our families choose to provide equitable access to education, resources, tools and supports.
Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ is intended to answer some of your questions regarding education, resources, and supports during the Covid pandemic. It is informed largely by the resources listed at the end of this document.
Note: The information shared here is based on the most current information we have. As more information becomes available, we will update this FAQ accordingly.
Health & Safety Protocols
All students, staff and other adults are expected to complete a daily health check prior to entering the school and to follow the instructions provided based on their specific symptoms.
Staff and other adults can refer to BCCDC’s “When to get tested for COVID-19”
Staff, students and parents/caregivers can also use the BCCDC online Self-Assessment Tool or call 8-1-1.
- Attached are the symptomatic gargle testing instructions to ensure that parents know what to do when their child is tested.
The federal government continues to outline requirements for people travelling internationally, including to the United States and Mexico:
• Students, staff and other adults who are not fully vaccinated and have travelled outside of Canada CANNOT attend school until a minimum 14 days after arrival, as part of federal requirements.
• Fully vaccinated students, staff and other adults who have travelled outside of Canada may qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption.
o Individuals qualified as fully vaccinated travellers are exempt from quarantine and from Day-8 testing.
• Specific information is also available on COVID-19 requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and unvaccinated children less than 12 years of age.
Students, staff, or other adults should stay at home when sick, as this is one of the most important ways to reduce the introduction to and the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
See the Staying Home, Self-Isolation and Symptoms section (p.17) of the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 for more information.
Close contacts of a confirmed case who are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated (have received the full series of doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior) may be permitted by VCH to continue to attend school/work while self-monitoring for symptoms.
- We encourage these individuals to stay home while they wait for direction from VCH, and to call 8-1-1 or their local health authority if they have any questions.
SD46 will not require students and staff to disclose their vaccination status.
BCCDC further information/clarification:
Living in a household with a person who has COVID-19 means you and all of the other people who live in that house are close contacts and need to self-monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 for 14 days after being exposed. You and all others who live in the household with someone who has COVID-19 may also need to self-isolate. Public Health will help you decide based on your vaccination status, the dates you were vaccinated, and whether you have had COVID-19 in the past. They will use this information to guide you on which steps you need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If another person in your household tests positive for COVID-19, this may extend the amount of time that you will need self-monitor and self-isolate. Visit our How Long Should I Self-Isolate page to learn more about the right isolation period for you and your household members.
- All K-12 staff, students and are required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas of the school and on school buses.
- Students and staff are required to complete daily health checks – to stay home when feeling sick – and to practice diligent hand hygiene.
- October 6th, 2021 | VCH & SD46 Expanded Mask Mandate FAQ
- In addition to the continuation of indoor mask requirements for all K-12 staff, visitors and students, changes to the health and safety measures also include the ability for health authorities to introduce additional regional measures specific to individual schools or school districts in instances where community transmission rates are higher.
The school district follows the guidance of the Public Health Officer, the Ministry of Education, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the local health authority, in adhering to the use of masks inside schools.
Please note, there are exceptions for mask wearing. Parents and students can talk to their classroom teacher and principal about these needs.
The following is on page 19 of the Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for the K-12 Setting.
Exceptions to the mask policy include:
- A person who cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons
- A person unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person
- If the mask is removed temporarily for the purposes of identifying the person wearing it
- If the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask. For example:
- Playing a wind instrument
- Engaging in high-intensity physical activity
- If a person is eating or drinking
- If a person is behind a barrier
- While providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (for example, a hearing impairment), where visual cues, facial expressions and/or lip reading/movements are important
- Hand-washing must occur upon school entry and before/after breaks and eating, using washroom and using frequently touched shared equipment.
- Students and staff should also wash their hands carefully when leaving for school and arriving home from school.
- Students and staff should:
- Cough and sneeze into their elbow, sleeve, or a tissue.
- Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene.
Some families have raised concerns regarding the use of hand sanitizer. There are alternatives to hand sanitizer such as hand washing with soap and water. Please discuss with your school principal if you prefer that your child does not use hand sanitizer for their hand hygiene needs.
- Buses used for transporting students will be cleaned and disinfected according to the guidance provided in the Cleaning and Disinfecting section of the provincial guidance document.
- K-12 Students are required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings when they are on the bus.
- Non-medical masks or face coverings should be put on before loading.
- Students should clean their hands before and after taking the bus and complete a daily health check.
- Bus drivers are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) on school buses except while driving.
Who can I contact for more information?
Mike Martens, Assistant Manager of Facilities and Transportation
Phone: 604-886-9870 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Gould, Manager, Thirdwave Bus Services
Phone: 604-885-1260 | Email: email@example.com
Physical distancing of two metres is no longer a recommended public health measure for the K-12 setting. However, strategies to create space between people and to support students and staff will be used, including, but not limited to:
- reminding students and staff about respecting others personal space, and using visual supports, signage, prompts, video modelling, etc., as necessary;
- using available space to spread people out where possible for gatherings and events;
- taking students outside more often, where and when possible; and
- managing flow of people in common areas, including hallways and around lockers, to minimize crowding and allow for ease of people passing through.
The following cleaning frequency guidelines must be adhered to when cleaning and disinfecting schools:
- General cleaning of the premises, and cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, at least once in a 24-hour period and when visibly dirty.
Covid Cases & Notifications
- We cannot confirm a case until VCH has deemed it appropriate to share.
- VCH is in charge of contact tracing and information sharing for all Covid-19 cases in our community and they will direct SD46 to support and inform when necessary.
- VCH contact tracing is unchanged from last school year. Every case and close contact is contacted directly by VCH.Public health will investigate to determine if there were any potential close contacts within the school
- If it is determined that there are close contacts within the school, VCH will:
- Notify the school administrators and request information to assist with contact tracing
- Provide guidance on what steps should be taken
- VCH may then:
- Recommend 14-day self-isolation if necessary
- Recommend self-monitoring for symptoms if necessary
- Provide follow-up recommendations if necessary
- Schools will ensure students required to self-isolate are able to continue their educational program. Together, schools and public health officials will determine if any other actions are necessary.
- Parents, caregivers and families will be notified by public health if your child was determined to be a close contact of a COVID-19 positive person.
- The key point for families to remember is that Vancouver Coastal Health will connect directly with any individuals who may have been exposed with further instructions via phone call or letter. If you are contacted by Vancouver Coastal Health, please follow their advice carefully.
- If you do not receive a phone call or letter from Vancouver Coastal Health, your child should continue to attend school. As a reminder, please continue daily health checks to monitor your child for COVID-19 symptoms. If you have any health questions or concerns, we encourage you to call 811.
When a school community member receives a positive COVID-19 test, VCH will notify the case of their test result and determine who they were in contact with while they were infectious (including at school), and follow up with those contacts, as well.
If there is an increased risk of ongoing transmission to groups they were a part of (e.g. a specific class), a school exposure notice will be posted. If Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has not contacted you, it is because you are not at significantly elevated risk and you do not need to be concerned. If you have not been directly contacted by VCH, please keep your child in class. Children and youth continue to be at low risk for serious outcomes from COVID-19, but research has shown missing school impacts mental health, social connection and learning outcomes.
- For more information on COVID-19, please visit http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/about-covid-19
- For more information on testing, please visit http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/covid-19-testing
- For more information on COVID-19 and VCH school exposures, please visit: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/school-exposures
- For more information on COVID-19 and key information for school contacts, please visit: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/forcontacts
Web postings are for public awareness only, and are updated after an initial investigation is complete, and direct communication with affected individuals has occurred. A lag between a positive lab test and a webpage update (if required) is to be expected, and is not reflective of the Public Health process of contact tracing and case management. This webpage includes current potential exposures in VCH schools with an increased risk of ongoing transmission*, including the school name and potential dates of exposure.
VCH conducts an investigation and risk assessment for every case of COVID-19 in its region. When a school community member receives a positive COVID-19 test, VCH will notify the case of their test result and determine who they were in contact with while they were infectious (including at school), and follow up with those contacts as well. If there is an increased risk of ongoing transmission of COVID-19 to groups they were a part of, such as a class, that group will be notified directly, and in those cases, the notification will also be posted on the VCH website after the investigation and risk assessment are complete.
If you have not been directly contacted by Public Health, please keep your child in class. Continue to do a daily Health Check, and seek testing if symptomatic.
Please note that schools and districts are required by law to protect the personal privacy rights of individuals. In addition, to ensure that information that is shared is complete and correct schools and school district authorities should not provide any public statements to staff or students’ families about potential or confirmed COVID 19 school exposures unless communications have been approved and reviewed by the Medical Health Officer or designate prior to their release. As the school year progresses it is normal for students and staff to be away from school from time to time due to illness, vacation, or family circumstance. We ask for your support in not speculating or commenting on such absences.
The safety and well-being of our students, families and staff remains our highest priority. We will continue to follow the health guidelines so that children and staff can continue to attend school as safely as possible.
VCH contact tracing is unchanged from last school year. Every case and close contact is contacted directly by VCH. Under the Public Health Act, COVID-19 is a reportable communicable disease, which means positive lab results are automatically reported to Public Health, and contact tracers initiate an investigation within 24 hours. After speaking to the case and determining actions for them and their household contacts, other contacts who need to take action, such as self-isolate, are contacted directly by Public Health. Neither the process nor the timing has changed since last year.
- BCCDC Contact Tracing infographic: http://www.bccdc.ca/schools/Documents/Contact_Tracing.pdf
- One-pager outlining the process
- Updated web content on BCCDC schools webpage
Self-monitoring means monitoring yourself daily for symptoms of COVID-19, and is recommended for lower risk contacts (e.g. casual non-household contacts and those who have been vaccinated). However, everyone should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 every day. Those who are sick should stay home.
Self-isolation is recommended for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their unvaccinated close contacts. Self-isolation means staying home and avoiding situations where you could come into contact with others, even if you don’t have symptoms. This is to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Those who need to self-isolate are contacted directly by Public Health. If you have not been contacted, you do not need to self-isolate. More information about self-isolation can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
Schools will ensure students required to self-isolate are able to continue their educational program, if the student is well enough to do so. This may include an online presence with connections and touch points.
Vaccines & Proof of Vaccinations
Public Health and Vaccination Clinics in Schools
The Inter-ministerial Protocols for the Provision of Support Services to Schools requires boards of education and participating independent school authorities to provide a designated space in each school for public health nurses or other qualified health personnel to carry out their duties, which include immunizations. This means we provide space, as well as share and distribute health information from the BC Centre of Disease Control and the Public Health Officer.
Additional information on the school district’s immunization regulation can be found SD46 Immunization Regulation 3125.
Elementary School Vaccinations:
For regular immunization elementary school clinics, the COVID-19 vaccine has been added for eligible students.
As per our regulation, we will notify parents of clinic dates through school correspondence and send individual student immunization consent form and immunization information home for a parent to sign and return.
As per our regulation, ALL vaccines for elementary students (Grades K-7 inclusive) must have parental consent at the elementary level – including grade 7 students at Pender Harbour Elementary/Secondary and SCAS.
Consents and information to families is provided, but students may self-select to receive a vaccine based on the Infants Act (Mature Minor), see below information.
Mature Minors and the Infants Act
When talking about consent it is important to note that boards of education cannot override the Infants Act. This piece of legislation is about a minor’s right to make a decision for themselves about their health, which includes decisions about medical procedures, medication and prophylaxis.
It requires that a medical professional determine a minor’s capacity to understand the consequences, potential negative outcomes as well as the intended positive outcomes of medical decisions. A school district has no authority to interfere in the right for a minor to access their own health/medical care and when required we also need to provide space for them to access medical/health services on our sites. School staff are not part of this process.
Our school district encourages parents to talk to their children about health-related decisions that impact them and weave into that conversation what their own personal family values are around these issues and where they come from. Consent forms are sent home with students to allow for parents to be aware of vaccinations offered on site and to start the conversation with their children. The consent forms indicate that a lack of a signed consent does not mean that a minor will not receive care/treatment.
Here is additional information on the Infant’s Act, Mature Minor Consent and Immunizations
Questions regarding the safety of COVID vaccines should be addressed to the BC Centre for Disease Control or the Public Health Officer.
The BCCDC states that “Proof of vaccination will not be required for essential activities, including attending K-12 schools.”
SD46 is an inclusive district and we want all students feeling safe and included at school. We support all students by using positive and inclusive approaches. These positive and inclusive practices are to ensure all students fully participate in school without stigma. Vaccination status and health decisions are not reasons for exclusion. If you or your child are experiencing discrimination, connect with your classroom teacher and principal.
Information is now available on the provincial immunization campaign for children ages 5 to 11.
Any child between five and 11 years old can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Parents can register their child in the Get Vaccinated system to be notified of when their child can get vaccinated. The vaccines are free and children do not need BC Care Cards to receive them.
No, board meetings (including those attended by members of the public) and PAC meetings are excluded from proof of vaccination requirements.
- The Office of the Provincial Health Officer has confirmed that all K-12 school activities are excluded from proof of vaccination requirements. This includes any programs for children and youth offered by a school.
- This applies to all educational and extracurricular activities (e.g., school sports, special interest clubs), programming for children and youth (e.g., school meals, early learning/pre-K) and school-led events (e.g., open houses, parent-teacher interviews, science fairs, performances/recitals, school sports, school-led before, during and after school programs etc.).
- This exclusion applies to any person involved in or attending a K-12 school activity, including all students, staff, volunteers and parents/caregivers.
- Schools will continue to follow all other requirements outlined in the:
- Provincial Gathering and Events Order (the Order), and
- Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12, including the sections on School Gatherings and Events (p.9) and Visitor Access/Community Use (p.14)
Proof of vaccination requirements do not apply to staff professional development and in-service activities organized by the school or school district and held on or off of school/district property.
For staff professional development activities hosted offsite, whether organized by the school/district or by a third party (e.g. conferences, external training programs, etc), school/district staff should contact the venue operator and event/program organizer (if applicable) for information on whether they require proof of vaccination for entry.
The Order excludes all K-12 school activities from proof of vaccination requirements regardless of location. This includes when on school field trips. However, venue operators may have different operational practices in place, particularly in situations where other members of the public may be present at the same time (e.g., museums, fitness facilities or restaurants).
School staff are encouraged to communicate with venue operators in advance of any proposed field trips, to confirm the venue’s specific policies and procedures, and to not plan field trips to venues where students and staff may be asked to provide proof of vaccination.
Community members/organizations renting SD46 school facilities must follow proof of vaccination requirements, which are based on the type of, and age group participating in the activity. For example, indoor adult sport or exercise activities require proof of vaccination, whereas programs for children and youth under the age of 22 (e.g., an after-school program run by a community organization) do not.
The person/organizer renting a school facility is responsible for verifying proof of vaccination when required, not the school or school district.
SD46 will not mandate Covid-19 vaccination for staff at this time. Visit this link for the full news release on November 10th, 2021.
Here is a link to VCH’s vaccine hesitancy page, which contains information for those who are hesitant: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/vaccine-hesitancy.
Sports & Extra-Curricular Activities
Schools will continue to follow the following capacity guidelines for extracurricular gatherings and events (including concerts, festivals and inter-school sporting events):
- Indoor activities can have 50 spectators or 50% seated capacity, whichever is greater. For example, if the venue has a normal seated capacity of 500 people, 250 spectators can attend.
- Outdoor activities can have 5,000 spectators or 50% seated capacity, whichever is greater.
- The capacity limit total includes everyone in attendance – students, staff, volunteers, and spectators, except for necessary facility staff (e.g., custodians).
- Schools will also continue to follow any applicable regional public health orders in place.
(updated October 22nd, 2021)
Sports, events and extra-curricular activities are allowed, in alignment with Public Health Orders and in a gradual way.
Secondary school indoor and outdoor sport spectators are permitted across the district as of October 19th, 2021.
Elementary school sport indoor spectators are not permitted at this time.
Elementary school outdoor sport spectators are permitted.
Please visit our facilities page for more information regarding our facility bookings during the Covid pandemic.
Education & Supports
- B.C. students returned to full-time, in-person learning this September.
- Mask requirements and other health and safety measures remain in place to keep schools safe.
- We know that students’ academic growth and emotional well-being is enhanced through face to face connection and activities. We will be moving forward in a mindful way so that our learning community feels safe and supported as we begin this school year.
- Local public health orders may be put in place for entire regions or communities, including schools. For schools, the local medical health officer may issue a recommendation for an individual school, a grouping of schools, a school district, all schools within the health authority region or some combination thereof, to implement specific additional health and safety measures during times of elevated risk.
Any additional regional measures put in place by local medical health officers are likely to be similar to those in place during the 2020-21 school year, and may include: limits on gatherings and events;
changing room arrangements or incorporating more activities that maximize space between people and reduce face-to-face contact; and
- We will continue to move forward carefully, informed by data and guided by science and public health advice.
Visitors are welcome! To keep our spaces as safe as possible and to avoid crowding, we encourage visitors to only enter schools for pre-arranged meetings or activities. Visitors are required to follow health and safety guidelines and sign in at the office.
- For the 2021/22 school year, parents/caregivers and families will continue to have the choice to:
- enrol their child in one of our “bricks and mortar” public schools;
- enrol their child in an online learning program; or
- register their child for homeschooling prior to the start of the school year. With homeschooling, parents/caregivers are responsible for designing the educational program for their child and must register their child with either a public or independent school.
- Parents/caregivers and families can choose a different option at any time during the school year, based on program availability and applicable board of education policies and procedures.
Community Schools are providing food to a significant number of families who are struggling to make ends meet at this time. As a district we are working with the Community School Associations and joining with other community groups to ensure that Sunshine Coast families do not go hungry during this pandemic. Please contact your child’s school principal to learn more or if you have any questions.
Telus provides a low cost internet service for K-12 students from low income families.
The program offers internet connectivity for $9.95/month (plus applicable taxes) for 24 months; regular pricing thereafter.
Questions & Trusted Links
If you have questions or comments about your child’s learning, please contact their teacher. If the matter is more school related, please connect with your child’s principal. If the matter is more related to the direction of the district, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t know who to talk to, contact any of us. We are here to help! All district and school contact information is available on this site.
We will ensure commonly asked questions are shared (while protecting your personal privacy) so that we can update our FAQ and provide an answer that benefits all visitors to this page.