Dear CISND Families,
I hope you enjoyed a bright, restful, and safe summer! We are looking forward to welcoming your children back into our schools! We are faced yet again with challenging circumstances to start this new year; however, I am confident that our students will experience a successful year with the support of our staff, student, parent, and parish communities.
We continue to receive direction from the Ministry of Education and medical experts regarding the health and safety measures to put in place to protect our students and staff and still provide a positive educational experience.
This year each school is required to complete a Communicable Disease Prevention Plan. Communicable Disease Prevention Plans focus on reducing the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases, and includes both ongoing measures (e.g., hand hygiene, cleaning procedures) and additional measures to be implemented as advised by public health. Your school administrator will be sharing this detailed plan with you once it has been finalized.
I would like to bring your attention to the following:
- Schools are considered as low risk for Covid-19 transmission.
- VACCINES: Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of Covid-19 in schools and communities. Public health strongly encourages all eligible students and staff to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to protect themselves and those around them – including those who are not eligible to be vaccinated.
- COHORTS: Cohorts, also known as learning groups, are no longer recommended by public health as a COVID-19 mitigation measure and will not be used.
- HAND HYGIENE: Diligent hand hygiene will continue to be emphasized, with handwashing encouraged upon school entry, before/after breaks, before/after eating, after using washrooms, and after touching shared equipment.
- PHYSICAL DISTANCING: Although public health no longer recommends strict physical distancing of two metres, schools will use strategies to help with respecting personal space, including using available learning spaces and making use of outdoor space as appropriate.
- CLEANING: General cleaning, as well as cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, will occur at least once in a 24-hour period and when visibly dirty.
- MASKS: All K-12 staff are required to wear a mask when indoors and on school buses. All students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear a mask when indoors and on school buses. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged to wear masks. 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 or 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.
- DAILY HEALTH CHECKS: Daily health checks for students and staff will be required before arriving at school each day.
- ILLNESS: Students and staff should stay at home when sick as this is one of the most important ways to reduce the introduction to and the of Covid-19 in schools.
- VISITORS: We will be continuing to carefully manage and document visitors in our schools in alignment with current provincial guidelines. If you need to visit your child’s school, please call the school, or email staff to make appropriate arrangements. School doors may be locked when staff are not available to greet prospective visitors. All prospective visitors will need to complete a daily health check and sign in with their contact information.
Medical Health Officers continue to be able to implement local Public Health
Orders requiring additional health and safety measures at their own discretion,
based on their authority under provincial legislation. Local Public Health Orders
may be placed for entire regions or communities, or for specific settings or
activities within a health authority region. Interior Health has recommended the
following additional measures:
- Indoor assemblies are limited to 50 people or two classes (whatever is larger), in a single space.
- Visitors entering the school should be limited to those supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and wellbeing (e.g., student teacher, hot lunch volunteers etc.).
- Extracurricular school sports should follow the Interior Health Order for Gatherings and Events, where sports and tournaments are allowed. Spectators should be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Thank you for your understanding and patience as our schools address the new and constantly changing challenges during this difficult time. I am also thankful for our dedicated staff as they are working very hard to provide a quality education for our students. Our theme for 2021-22 is “One Family, One Hope in Christ”. Let this year be one of hope!
Yours in Christ,
Arthur M. Therrien
Superintendent of Schools