Dear Parents and Guardians,
We hope this update finds you and your family healthy, and that you are doing what you need to do to stay safe in this challenging time. Our paramount concern, as always, is the well-being of our community and all of those within it.
By now, you have likely seen numerous announcements from Federal and Provincial authorities, and you are aware that in-person instruction has been suspended in our province’s schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though our District is currently on spring break, planning has begun at the District level to determine what continuity of learning might look like after staff return to work next week.
Once staff are available, principals and teachers will need some time to assess their capacity to provide opportunities for learning without meeting face to face with students. As part of this preparation process, you can expect a call from your school by the middle of next week. These calls will give staff an opportunity to check in with students and inquire about student access to technology, which will help inform potential next steps.
As well, this contact will also help staff plan for exceptions to campus closure. These exceptions will include scheduled access for students who need to retrieve school supplies or personal items left in the building prior to spring break. Exceptions may also include options for service to children with complex learning needs as determined by the School District, or for younger students who have identified parents who work in an essential service as defined by the Provincial Government.
Please note that opportunities for learning in this new environment will be very different than they would be if we were in session as normal and will vary depending on student age and readiness. Potential options may include:
- Conversations between teacher and students conducted by phone or communication apps
- Email exchanges between teachers and students
- Learning packages emailed to parents
- Introduction of the Microsoft Teams networking platform for group meetings
- Expanded use of the Moodle and MyBlueprint learning platforms
- Use of other learning and communication platforms
Above all else, we recognize this may be an incredibly stressful time for families, and it may be difficult for students to focus on learning. While the suspension of in-class learning continues in its current form, our schools will provide resources and activities that you may access and use in a manner that best fits your family’s needs.
For more information, please consult our School District website, where we will post the most recent updates and links to other sources. I would also ask you to keep in mind that this is a rapidly changing situation, and that Federal or Provincial authorities could change the way we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic on short notice.
Once again, we encourage you to stay healthy and safe, and we look forward to the eventual return of students to our schools.
In support of our communities,
School District No.83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)
Frequently Asked Questions:
When will learning opportunities for students begin?
Though our District is currently on spring break, planning has begun at the District level to determine what continuity of learning might look like. The Ministry of Education is developing an integrated planning framework to assist in local planning. When principals and teachers return to the schools on Monday, March 30, they will need some time to assess their capacity to offer different types of learning opportunities. As part of this preparation process, you can expect a call from your school by the middle of next week. These calls will give staff an opportunity to check-in with students and inquire about student access to technology, which will help determine potential next steps.
I am an essential service worker. Can my child go to school?
The District is working on a plan to support the important work being done by our essential service workers. Please communicate your essential worker role and potential need for this type of support when your school reaches out to you.
My child has special needs.
The District is also working on a plan to support students with specific special needs. School staff will engage with you about your student’s IEP and what that support may look like.
Will my child graduate?
Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. Students who are in Grade 12 and not yet eligible for graduation will receive priority support so that they can meet necessary graduation requirements. The only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. The Ministry will ensure Grade 12 students who have not yet completed this assessment and who are otherwise on track to graduate have the opportunity to meet this requirement.
The Ministry has also promised to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with post-secondary institutions on admissions and the smooth transition of graduating students for next year.
Will my child pass?
Students who are currently eligible for transition to the next grade will move forward with their peers. Students who are not yet eligible will receive priority support.
Are school playgrounds closed?
In an effort to slow down the ongoing spread of COVID-19 School District No. 83 will be closing its playgrounds and playstructures, as will most local city and community organizations. Trails and fields will remain open; however, please follow the Provincial Health Officer’s orders on social distancing.
My child forgot something at school or needs school supplies. Can I go to the school and pick them up?
Please do not return to school to pick up resources or personal effects until contacted by school staff. A schedule will be prepared by each school, following the Provincial Health Officer’s social distancing guidelines, to allow for the safe pick up of resources and personal belongings.
Will children’s breakfast/lunch programs be continuing?
When schools are in session many schools in our district offer breakfast programs. These programs will not be continued in their current form for the remainder of the suspension of in-class learning.
Is the School District office open?
The District Education Support Centre (DESC) is closed to the public but staff are working. You are welcome to call in if you have questions or concerns. The number is 250.832.2157.
What are the services and resources available to parents, students and staff to learn about COVID-19 and combat the spread of it?
• B.C. has launched a new non-medical information line for British Columbians who have questions about COVID-19. Call 1-888-COVID19. Phone lines are open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and information is available in more than 110 languages.
• B.C.’s website has many resources available at http://www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
• The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website also has many resources for British Columbians at http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/
What can everyone do to stop the spread of COVID-19?
Each of us has a role to play in reducing the spread of this virus and protecting the people we love. The most important thing people can do to limit the spread of the virus are:
- Stay home as much as possible and limit contact with other people.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your face
What are the options for COVID-19 testing?
- Testing is available for all who need it, but not everyone requires a test. No test is needed if you have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or are returning traveller self-isolating at home.
- Testing continues to focus on those who are part of an active investigation or outbreak cluster, those who are hospitalized, and residents of long-term care facilities and health-care workers.
- The COVID-19 testing strategy in B.C. is being adapted to ensure testing is available to those who need it most. Testing will focus on people in hospitals, long term care facilities and those involved in ongoing investigations around identified cases. Health autorities will announce new testing centres in the coming days.
- The Province is developing plans for mobile testing sites conducted by regional health authorities.
- Information about COVID-19, including advice and guidance to schools, is regularly updated on the BC Centre for Disease Control site: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID19_schools_childcare_guidelines.pdf Please routinely check this site and its resources.
- All joint statements from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix are posted here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health
- The Provincial Pandemic Coordination plan: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/reports-publications/pandemic-provincial-coordination-plan.pdf
- KIDS and COVID-19 QA:http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)#For–schools–and–childcare
- CBC Kids along with the PHO produced a kid-centric Q and A video about COVID-19: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/watch-coronavirus-facts-versus-fiction
- Ministry of Health response plans – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/pandemic-influenza
- Novel Coronavirus Q&A from HealthLinkBC: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/coronavirus
- BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
- Government of Canada – Novel Coronavirus in China Travel Health Notice: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/travel-health-notices/210