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Education During Covid-19

SD46 Health and Safety Guide for Students, Staff, and Visitors Spring 2022

Students, Staff and Visitors:

  1. Be Health Aware:Health awareness is an updated approach to a Daily Health Check. Health awareness reduces the likelihood of a person with a communicable disease coming to school when they are infectious. This includes a person checking regularly they (or their child) are not experiencing symptoms of illness (including but not limited to COVID-19 symptoms) to ensure they are not coming to school when they are sick. (p. 14
  2. Stay Home When Sick: If you feel unwell, stay at home. 
  3. Focus on personal practices, such as the use of masks and face coverings as a personal choice that will be respected and supported, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, personal space, and not sharing food, beverages and other items that touch the mouth. (p. 14

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:

BC Ministry of Education:


School District 46 – Sunshine Coast:

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

It is everyone’s responsibility to do their part in helping keep our school communities safe. The district continues to remind students, staff, and any visitors to follow daily personal measures outlined below:

Students, Staff and Visitors:

  1. Be Health Aware:Health awareness is an updated approach to a Daily Health Check. Health awareness reduces the likelihood of a person with a communicable disease coming to school when they are infectious. This includes a person checking regularly they (or their child) are not experiencing symptoms of illness (including but not limited to COVID-19 symptoms) to ensure they are not coming to school when they are sick. (p. 14
  2. Stay Home When Sick: If you feel unwell, stay at home. 
  3. Focus on personal practices, such as the use of masks and face coverings as a personal choice that will be respected and supported, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, personal space, and not sharing food, beverages and other items that touch the mouth. (p. 14

Effective March 12, 2022, the decision to wear a mask or face covering is a personal choice. A person’s choice is to be supported and respected.

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.

Updated February 22, 2022. 

  • 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 the 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.
  • For ventilation system overviews by the school, see above dedicated tab on this page. 

COVID-19 is mainly spread by liquid droplets that come out of the mouth and nose when a person with the virus coughs, sneezes, or talks. Larger droplets are heavier, and they usually fall to the ground within two meters. Smaller droplets, also known as aerosols, are lighter and they can float in the air for longer.

While transmission via smaller droplets may occur in specific situations, (e.g.aerosol generating medical procedures,) at this time there is no evidence that ventilation systems, in good operating condition, are contributing significantly to the spread of the virus in BC schools. As a result, portable air cleaners (e.g.HEPA) are not required under the provincial Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 Schools. As part of the measures currently in place to keep schools safe, school personnel regularly check the mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in schools to ensure that they are working properly.

Like most common respiratory viruses, COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplet transmission within a short range. Most commonly, students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 acquire the virus through close contact with a case at home or through their social networks. Unfortunately, school-based ventilation changes are unlikely to prevent transmissions in homes and social networks. In-school transmission accounts for approximately 1% of COVID-19 cases.

VCH FAQ nUpdated Jan 10, 2022

  • 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.
  • Students should clean their hands before and after taking the bus and complete a daily health check.

Who can I contact for more information?

Mike Martens, Assistant Manager of Facilities and Transportation

Phone: 604-886-9870 | Email: mmartens@sd46.bc.ca

Randy Gould, Manager, Thirdwave Bus Services

Phone: 604-885-1260 | Email: randyg@thirdwavebus.com

Covid Self-Management and Travel

If you are planning to travel,  please consult the Federal and Provincial Guidelines for advice on your family situation.

It is the responsibility of parents and families to know and understand the federal and provincial guidelines and regulations before they decide to travel. SD46 follows the regulations in the links listed above.

We remain committed to continuing to support the educational needs of our students. If children are absent from school due to illness or the need to self-isolate, our staff will coordinate home learning options to help keep all students moving forward in their classes.  

WHAT TO EXPECT FOR POSSIBLE DISRUPTION TO LEARNING

There are two types of closures that could impact our schools:

  • Functional Closure: A functional closure of a school is a temporary closure determined by a school district or independent school due to a lack of staff to provide the required level of teaching, supervision, support, and/or custodial to ensure the health and safety of students. This would likely be due to a high number of staff or certain employees away who are required for a school to function, and the inability to temporarily replace them.

  • Public Health Closure: A public health closure is the temporary closing of a school by order of a Medical Health Officer when they determine it is necessary to prevent the excessive transmission of a communicable disease (e.g., COVID-19).

  • Transportation Disruption: A transportation closure is a lack of staff able to provide the required level of transportation services for students. This would likely be due to bus drivers and/or mechanics being away and the inability to replace those absences. Some routes may be adjusted, delayed, and/or cancelled. This does not impact school operations and schools will remain open.

As we know, what’s happening in our schools is reflective of what’s happening in our community, and our leadership team has had to consider and plan for the continued or increased impacts of Covid-19 on our staffing levels. While we will still use our on-call and casual staff to supplement school-based staff absences, in addition to district staff in required situations, we are also planning for the possibility that extreme staff shortages may require we temporarily call a functional closure to a school: a temporary shift of 3 to 10 days to home learning options, allowing us to provide continuity of learning until we can safely staff and support all students back at their school. This is an emergency measure that will only be taken if there is no other way to safely support students in person – a decision that will be made sparingly and, on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with school and district leadership.

It is important to note, public health has not declared an outbreak at the school when a functional closure is under consideration. In the event of a functional closure, the district will make an announcement to students, staff, and families through regular communication methods, and with as much advanced warning as possible. The first day of a functional closure will involve staff preparations, communicating instructions, and sharing materials with pre-determined mechanisms/strategies with students and families. As soon as practical, staff will provide student support and further communication. Staff absence levels will continually be assessed and a decision to return to regular in-person instruction will be considered.

Functional closures will have two levels dependent on staffing:

  • Level 1: Prioritize – children of health care workers, SD46 staff and diverse learners in attendance (additional essential service workers children as staffing allows)
  • Level 2: Full closure for all students of in-person learning

This will look much like a functional closure Level 2 scenario where all staff/students in a classroom or school would move to home-based learning for a limited amount of time as directed by public health. 

As directed by the province, the district has planned for potential school closures due to COVID-19 impacts. In the event that a functional closure or directed public health closure is required for a school within our district for a period of 3 to 10 days, SD46 staff have spent this week preparing materials, resources, guidelines, and plans.

We are prioritizing in-person learning and a full return on Monday, January 10th. Remote learning is not currently being offered. Please contact your child’s principal to discuss your options. For more provincial online learning program options, click HERE, including the SD46 SPIDER Secondary Grade 10-12 Online Learning.

Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccination is now authorized by Health Canada for children five and older. Getting young people vaccinated helps protect them and the people around them. 

It is important for families to be informed about their decision whether to vaccinate. We encourage parents to talk to their children about health-related decisions.

The Ministries of Health and Education have requested that we share with you this helpful information sheet from the BCCDC about COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5-11: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID-19_vaccine/Vaccine_children_5_11.pdf

Please find below an informative presentation hosted by joint BC DPACs from Canadian Medical Association president, Dr. Katharine Smart, specifically about vaccines for children.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJbmoJmzGQE

At School District 46:

Any time a vaccine clinic is scheduled by VCH in our schools, families are provided with information in advance of the clinic.

As per our regulation, we will notify parents of any future 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.

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. 

Secondary Students:

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

COVID-19 Vaccines:

Questions regarding the safety of COVID vaccines should be addressed to the BC Centre for Disease Control or the Public Health Officer.

There is information related to vaccines for children 5-11 HERE and aged 12-17 HERE.

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.

SD46 will not mandate Covid-19 vaccination for staff at this time. Visit this link for the full news release on November 10th, 2021. 

PHO Order: School Staff Member Vaccination Status Reporting: The PHO released a new order on January 17th, 2022 related to the gathering and reporting of vaccine status of K–12 staff: School Staff Member Vaccination Status Reporting. This order enables local Medical Health Officers (MHOs) to direct school boards and independent school authorities to obtain the vaccination status of school staff and share with the MHO in aggregate form.  

The purpose of this order is to support MHOs, when necessary, to obtain information about K–12 staff vaccination rates to assess, advise on and respond to risks arising from exposures, cases, clusters and outbreaks in schools.

An MHO directive issued under this order would:

  • Require the employer to collect vaccination status information of staff;
  • Require staff to report vaccination status information to their employer;
  • Require staff to update their vaccination status information if their status changes to their employer;
  • Require the employer to provide aggregated vaccination status information by school to the MHO; and
  • Require the employer to consider that staff who do not provide vaccination status as unvaccinated, when implementing control measures.

It is important to note that this order requires an MHO to issue a directive to a specific district/school authority to be actioned and does not apply until/if such a directive is issued. No action is required by school districts or school authorities unless contacted by your local MHO and provided a directive to comply.

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, Events & Extra-Curricular Activities

As detailed in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings, all school gatherings and events can return to 100% capacity as of April 8, 2022. Schools should continue to utilize a trauma-informed lens when planning school gatherings and events.

 

Graduation 2022 Update

Our secondary schools are ready to move forward with the planning of graduation festivities and celebrations. Based on current health and safety guidelines, the district is informing students, staff, and families that graduation events such as ceremonies can take place, on the condition that health and safety rules of venues are followed by attendees if and where applicable. 

 The district is closely monitoring the situation and is continuing to have conversations with public health regarding health and safety guidelines. If changes arise, families will be updated as soon as possible. 

 Please contact your child’s principal if you have more questions. 

Updated April 12, 2022

All sports, clubs and extracurricular activities are allowed.

  • Sport tournaments and activities like team practices or games can continue
  • Sport and extracurricular activities should be held outside whenever possible
  • Students will be encouraged to wash their hands before and after using equipment and cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing
  • Students will be asked not to share equipment that touches the mouth unless cleaned and disinfected in between uses

updated February 22, 2022

For events with visitors (e.g., parent/caregiver spectators):
• Can return to 100% capacity when the PHO Gatherings and Events Order is lifted (end of day April 7, 2022).

  • Schools should make every effort to avoid venue/locations that place additional requirements that could prevent a person from being able to participate.

Updated February 22, 2022

Please visit our facilities page for more information regarding our facility bookings during the Covid pandemic.

 

Education & Supports

  •  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 a provincial online learning program (this includes the SD46 SPIDER Secondary Grade 10-12 Online program); or
    • register their child for homeschooling. 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. 

Also, the Government of Canada’s Connecting Families initiative: In partnership with 14 participating Internet service producers (ISPs) across the country that are voluntarily contributing to the initiative by offering $20 a month high-speed Internet services, the Government of Canada is helping connect hundreds of thousands of low-income families and seniors to affordable high-speed Internet. 

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 questions@sd46.bc.ca. 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.

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