Supporting essential services

Part of the government’s direction to school districts during this challenging time is to provide some support for the children of Tier 1 essential service workers who have no other child care options. This has caused some confusion with parents as many are on the essential services list, but not necessarily in the Tier 1 group. Hopefully the following information will help provide clarity.
Click on this link for more details.

Calling all families

teacher calling

We just wanted to let parents know that with the unprecedented number of phone calls teachers are making to students and parents, many of these calls will not be coming from our school phone number.

Some of the calls may show up as No Caller ID.

Some will show up on your call display as (236) 600-9089.

Please answer as it will be a teacher attempting to contact you. Thanks!

If you missed Monday’s letter to parents explaining about the phone calls please click here.

Taking steps to keep kids learning during in-class school suspension

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, B.C. has suspended all in-class instruction until further notice. This means as spring break ends, please do not bring your children to school.

On Monday, March 30 parents will be receiving an emailed letter from SD83 with further information and initial learning opportunities for your child. Staff will be working this week to assess needs and further develop plans.
You will soon be contacted by telephone by your child’s teacher.

SD83 would also like to share this information received from the Ministry of Education:

New guidelines for school leaders and a new website are being introduced to support B.C.’s K-12 students while in-class education is suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a challenging time for families in B.C. as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is vital students have a sense of routine and continued opportunities to learn while they are at home,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “These guidelines will ensure the needs, health and safety of students are put first as school leaders actively plan to serve the unique needs of their communities.”

While in-person classes are suspended, the B.C. school system remains open to continue to support students and families in a variety of ways. Note that parents should not bring their children to school on Monday, March 30, 2020, as they usually would after spring break.

However, essential frontline health-care workers, like those directly involved in patient care, who need urgent care for their school-aged child the week of March 30 are advised to contact their school principal as soon as possible to discuss care arrangements available during the first week back after spring break. Other parents who are deemed an essential service worker and who may need child care for their school-age children can expect to hear from their school regarding care options by Friday, April 3, 2020. Schools will be doing their best to accommodate urgent child care needs while meeting the guidelines and directives of the provincial health officer.

Since there are many students who will have challenges working online, schools have been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs and circumstances of their communities. School leaders are actively working on these plans, and families will hear from their school superintendent and/or school principal in the coming week with an update on their timelines.

Government is working with all 60 school boards, independent school authorities, First Nations schools, teachers, school leaders, support staff, public health officials and all education partners on a co-ordinated approach. Guidelines for developing education plans for students will follow these principles:

  1. Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees.
  2. Provide the services needed to support children of essential workers.
  3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
  4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

These principles will also guide planning and support for students who need extra learning support or those with disabilities, important services like meal programs and child care services operating on school grounds.

“Boards of education across the province are working on ways to ensure continuity of learning in their communities,” said Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association. “Local boards of education understand the unique needs in each community. That local connection will be key as boards roll out plans tailored to each school district in the province.”

While teachers and schools will have primary responsibility for continuous learning, government has launched Keep Learning BC. This is a central place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, annotated links to free learning resources, as well as how to help children learn and how to ensure their well-being while they are at home. Keep Learning BC is available at: www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/

The Keep Learning BC website will have helpful guides to maintain routines and stay safe online, giving parents information about how talk to their children about COVID-19, along with other mental health resources to manage stress or anxiety. A comprehensive set of frequently asked questions is also available, with continuous updates about school services and programs as things progress: www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools/

Fleming added, “While it’s important for kids to keep learning, there is no expectation that we can duplicate a normal school day at home, and every family will need to figure out what works best for them, in discussion with their children’s teachers. I understand that many children are experiencing anxiety, while also missing their teachers and friends, and that’s why it’s important they know the actions we’re taking are designed to keep everyone safe, and we will return to regular school life down the road. By working together and supporting each other, we will get through this.”

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said, “We are proud of the parents, families and school communities who are working together to keep their children safely at home, and recognize how important it is for children to have continued learning opportunities in these challenging times. Parents who are health-care workers are also eagerly waiting for support, and it’s our job to work as a team to make sure they can continue their essential services.”

Quote:

Andrea Sinclair, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils —

“The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is truly appreciative of the united effort that is being undertaken across the education sector resulting in the continuity of an educational program while our children are at home. Parents understand that alternative instruction plans are being created to best meet the needs of children and that learning will vary by grade, district and region. As we try to maintain a daily routine in our homes, including academics and recreation, parents acknowledge that educators play a critical role supporting our children during this extraordinary time.”

Quick Facts:

  • On March 17, 2020, under the direction of the provincial health officer, all schools were ordered to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice.
  • Every student in K-12 will receive a final mark for the 2019-20 school year, and all students who are on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall. Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this school year will also graduate. On average, about 45,000 students graduate every year.
  • The Ministry of Education is also working across government to ensure all students graduating high school will have a smooth transition to post-secondary education.

Learn More:

Students, parents, guardians and teachers can find learning resources and accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions at: www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools/

A new website is constantly being updated with the latest information: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19

The best source of COVID-19 health information can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

For non-health-related questions, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19, email servicebc@gov.bc.ca, or call 1 888 COVID-19

For those who think they have symptoms of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has developed an online self-assessment tool at: https://covid19.thrive.health
People with symptoms can also call 811 to pre-arrange health testing.

If children are struggling with a problem big or small, encourage them to call the Kids Help Line, a free resource available at 1 800 668-6868.

For a traditional Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Continued_Learning_during_COVID19_Mar27.Chinese.pdf

For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/COVID19_March27_Continued_Learning_during_COVID_Punjabi.pdf

The letter from the Government of B.C. can be found here

Playgrounds, courts closed

School District No. 83 has joined other school districts and local governments across the province in closing its playgrounds to combat the spread of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, March 24 SD83’s playgrounds, tennis courts and sports courts at all SD83 sites will be closed. Pathways and fields remain open and the district urges all to follow the Provincial Health Officer’s requirements on physical distancing.

SD83 will continue to work to support Municipal, Provincial and Federal guidelines around everyone’s safety.

School suspended

As most have now heard, under the direction of the Provincial Health Officer, the Minister of Education has suspended in-class instruction in all schools in British Columbia until further notice.

As this situation is changing rapidly, SD83 wants to assure parents that we are working closely with the Ministry of Education and Health to determine next steps. At this point school districts around the province are waiting for more specifics from the Ministry of Education, which will be shared through discussion with District staff starting tomorrow (March 18th).

From there we will be talking to the Board and staff groups, then developing concrete plans to ensure appropriate continuity of learning for our students. As our education staff is scheduled to return from Spring Break on March 30th, our best estimate is that we hope to have these plans in place for early April.

Thank you for your understanding and patience. We will continue to communicate information as we know more. Please see the letter below for additional information.

Peter Jory,
Superintendent of Schools/CEO
School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)

Letter to Parents and Staff from Minister of Education Rob Fleming

Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff:

The health and safety of our students, staff and their families is our highest priority.

The global pandemic COVID-19 is moving quickly and its impact on British Columbians is growing.

We have followed the direction – daily – of public health officials and scientists in making fact-based decisions when it comes to B.C.’s school system.

Today, under the direction of the Provincial Health Officer we are directing all schools to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice.

While classroom lessons are suspended it is expected that schools will implement a variety of measures to ensure continued learning for students.

We are urging teachers, principals, school districts and independent school authorities to begin planning now to ensure continuity of learning and I have tasked Ministry of Education staff to work with our education partners to coordinate these initiatives.

We expect school districts and independent schools will develop plans to maintain some level of service for children of people who are performing essential services across our province – like medical health professionals, first responders, pharmacists and critical infrastructure workers.

We also know there are vulnerable students who have unique needs; important services like school meal programs, and child care services operating on school grounds that need to be addressed. We expect schools to consider these issues in their planning while we work together through these extraordinary times.

Every student will receive a final mark, and all students on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall. For grades 10 and 11 students, graduation assessments will be postponed.

Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. The only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. The Ministry of Education will ensure Grade 12 students who have not yet completed this assessment and who are otherwise on track to graduate are able to meet this graduation requirement.

The ministry will also work with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with post-secondary institutions on admissions and the smooth transition of graduating students in this extra-ordinary year.

We will continue to work in consultation with our education partners as we plan for ongoing learning, including frequent contact with school districts to ensure we work through this together as plans are developed.

This is a very challenging time in B.C. and around the world. Please take necessary preventative measures to keep you and your families healthy. If you think you have symptoms the Ministry of Health has developed an online self-assessment tool at covid19.thrive.health. If you do have symptoms you can call 8-1-1 to pre-arrange health testing. While symptomatic, self-isolate.

The province has a launched a new non-medical information line for British Columbians who have questions about COVID-19: 1-888-COVID19. Phone lines are open 7 days a week from 7:30 AM to 8 PM, and information is available in more than 110 languages.

These measures are temporary. But we must act together and act now to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Sincerely,
Rob Fleming
Minister of Education

For a pdf version of the letter and for further information please go to Safe and Healthy Schools by clicking here