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August 27, 2021: Letter to families from Superintendent Harry Dhillon

August 27, 2021 4:31 PM

Dear families,

I hope you are enjoying a bright, restful, and safe summer! We are looking forward to welcoming your children back to school. As we prepare for the beginning of the 2021/22 school year, I am writing to let you know about an important change to this year’s district school calendar, to provide information about the schedule for the first day of school, and to update you on the health and safety measures that will be in place across all our schools and facilities.

2021/22 district school calendar changes

In June 2021, the federal government announced a new annual statutory day to commemorate and honour those who were lost, the Indigenous survivors, and the families and communities who continue to grieve as a result of the residential school system in Canada. This new federal statutory day is called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and will be observed annually on September 30.

The SD42 Board of Education held a special meeting this week to approve the addition of the Thursday, September 30, statutory holiday to the 2021/22 District School Calendar and the 2021/22 Kanaka Creek School Calendar. The board also moved a previously scheduled non-instructional day from Tuesday, September 28, 2021, to Friday, October 1, 2021, in both calendars. The amended 2021/22 District School Calendar and 2021/22 Kanaka Creek School Calendar are available on the district website.

Schedule for first day of school

Opening day for students is September 7, 2021. The attendance schedule for both elementary and secondary students on September 7 has been adjusted to accommodate training/orientation for staff on the updated Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 School Settings. This dedicated time in the morning will also provide staff time to plan and prepare for student attendance in the afternoon in alignment with the updated guidelines.

At the elementary level, students will attend on September 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:25 p.m.. Regular daily attendance (8:30 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.) will start on September 8.

Parents/guardians of secondary students will be provided updated student attendance schedules for September 7 by their child’s principal in the coming days.

Health and safety measures

Updated COVID-19 guidelines for K-12 schools were announced last week, and are detailed in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings document. Key measures include the following:

  • 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.
  • MASKS: All K-12 staff, visitors, and students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas of the school and on school buses. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged to wear masks. Exceptions to the mask requirements are outlined on page 20 of the provincial guidelines.
  • DAILY HEALTH CHECKS: Daily health checks are required before students/staff come to school. A daily health check list is posted to the school district website and all school websites.
  • HAND HYGIENE: Diligent hand hygiene will continue to be emphasized, with hand-washing 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.
  • VENTILATION: Ventilation systems in all school district facilities meet WorkSafeBC requirements and requirements as set out in the provincial guidelines with all air filters continuing to be replaced on a regular basis. Improvements to SD42 ventilation systems are listed here.
  • VACCINATIONS: According to public health, vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in schools and communities. Public health strongly encourages all eligible students (12+) and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Registration is available:
  • TARGETED MEASURES: Local public health orders may be put in place for entire regions or communities, including schools, as determined by the Medical Health Officer.
  • 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.

Program alternatives

For the 2021/22 school year, we are returning to regular in-classroom instruction. The gradual transition and remote learning options offered during the 2020/21 school year with support of federal funding are not being offered this year. However, our school district continues to offer other programming options:

  • Students in grades 10 to 12 can participate in the Connected Learning Community, an online school offering a variety of courses from the re-designed B.C. curriculum. For K-9 students, SD42 offers the Odyssey program, where learning is designed and developed by our teaching staff to meet the needs of students and parents who want to combine home and school learning.
  • The SD42 Hospital Homebound Support program (kindergarten to Grade 12) provides support to students who are unable to attend school for medical reasons. Eligibility requirements, a physician request form, and other resources related to this program are located on the Learning Services website at https://learningservices.sd42.ca/departments/hospital-homebound-services/.
  • Finally, under the School Act (section 12), a parent may also choose to provide their child with an education outside of a public or an independent school. This alternative method of teaching is not supervised by a BC-certified teacher, is not required to meet provincial standards, and is not inspected by the Ministry of Education. Families who choose this option must register the child on or before September 30 in each year, and provide and supervise their child’s entire educational program, including curriculum and learning materials. You can learn more about homeschooling on the Ministry of Education website at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/classroom-alternatives/homeschooling. If you are considering homeschooling your child, I encourage you to contact your child’s school principal. Families who decide to homeschool their child(ren) will be asked to complete a transfer form.

We appreciate your support and patience as we once again make health and safety a top priority in our school district. I look forward to welcoming students and staff back to the classroom for another exciting school year.

Sincerely,

Harry Dhillon
Superintendent of Schools

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