Friday December 31st, DPAC attended a meeting of SD57 Stakeholders on the January 4-7 Re-entry period. Information is limited at this time, open for constructive feedback and subject to change. We all wish for nothing more than for school to function as normally as possible in a safe and predictable manner but the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is going to make this very difficult to achieve in the coming weeks.
Please understand that School Staff, District Staff and the Board of Trustees are working diligently to implement these changes appropriately. Our parent community will be understandably frustrated and we ask for your patience and respect towards our partners in public education during this period of uncertainty. Commentary on how and why this is being done should be reserved at this time and respectfully expressed to elected representatives and relevant provincial Ministries.
What we currently know:
- Essential workers are defined as parents who are Essential Health Care Workers or SD57 Staff.
- No changes to district calendar.
- School Trustee By-Election will proceed as scheduled
- No funding or support from MOE other than this ‘prep’ period (no PPE, no money, limited guidance yet)
- They are planning for Functional Closures due to staff illness (Functional Closure: not enough staff to safely supervise students)
- Classroom layout will adapt to be similar to 2020/2021 (more space and no face-to-face configurations by removing non-essential furniture, no ‘carpet time’ spaces)
- There will be no ‘instruction’ during the week of Jan 4-7 although electronic/self-serve supports and resources will be available and distributed to families in a general way.
- There are multiple competing priorities from government to balance on behalf of the people of BC and all are valid: health, healthcare, continuity of learning for students, predictability for families.
There are almost no new ‘enhanced’ measures from the Ministry of Education plan (more detail available here: Addendum to the K-12 Communicable Disease Safety Plan)
- No spectators for sports; only 2 teams allowed for games (no tournament play of 3 or more teams at one place/time)
- Essential visitors in schools only (not sure if PAC hot lunch would be essential – requested that clarification)
- Virtual gatherings for student assemblies and staff meetings
- Reinforce the importance of previous mitigation efforts (hand washing, health check, stay home when sick, masking effectively and importance thereof – exemptions will continue to be respected but may be reviewed individually)
- Reviewing traffic movement within the schools, staggering breaks but no cohorts.
What we will see from School District 57 in the coming days:
- Letter released December 31 to all parents/families.
- Bussing will run normally on Tuesday for student safety and revised for the remainder of the week.
- Planning will be underway to have a process ready to support Functional closures on a school-by-school basis as needed basis (more information coming on what this would look like)
- Outreach to specific families/students from a school contact
- Outreach to school-level PAC and parents on implementation of Enhanced Measures
- Communication on Ventilation in schools
- Changes to Covid Exposure notification in conjunction with Northern Health Authority and the Ministry of Health/BC CDC as contact tracing will not be able to function on a case-by-case basis as it was September to December 2021
There have been a wide-range of responses to this news. All responses and view point are valid, and we understand that this is extremely disruptive now with 5 days’ notice let alone what it will be like if families are facing Functional Closures with less than one day notice which is entirely probable. Thus we want and need to hear from you, our parent voice, to make sure we are advocating for what you need for your families and children.
Please send all your thoughts, feedback and concerns to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your attention, thank you for your patience, thank you for supporting our school communities.
SD57 DPAC Executive
If you or a family member are experiencing concerns with your mental and emotional well-being support is available. Please review this list from the Province of BC for specific supports:
Additional free support options are available through this Government of Canada portal: https://wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA