COVID-19 Update

COVID 19 SAFE SCHOOL PLAN

For the 2021/2022 school year, students and staff are in the classroom full time with updated health and safety measures. (Updated August 24, 2021 – Province of British Columbia)  (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-safe-schools)

Health and safety measures

Safety measures are in place to protect students and staff and reduce the spread of COVID-19. These include effective personal practices like regular hand washing and the wearing of masks.

Daily health checks

All students and staff must complete a daily health check. If you feel unwell, stay at home.

Parents and caregivers are responsible for assessing their children daily before sending them to school.

School administrators will ensure staff and other adults know they are responsible for assessing themselves daily for symptoms prior to entering the school.

Use the daily health check app

The K to 12 Health Check website and app is an easy way to decide if your child should attend school based on their symptoms. It includes current health guidelines and offers an age-appropriate user experience for K to 12 students.

Masks

All K to 12 staff, students in grades 4 to 12, and visitors are required to wear masks in all indoor areas, including:

  • At their desks
  • On school buses

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
    • 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

Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged to wear a mask indoors in schools and on school buses, but are not required to do so. Mask wearing remains a personal or family/caregiver choice for these students.

Keeping your distance

Strict physical distancing is no longer required. Schools can continue to create space between people, including:

  • Managing flow of people in common areas, including hallways and around lockers, to minimize crowding and allow people to pass through easily
  • Preventing crowding at pick-up and drop-off times
  • Reminding students and staff about respecting others’ personal space, using visual supports, signage, prompts and video modelling as necessary
  • Using available space to spread people out where possible
  • Taking students outside as much as possible

Ventilation

Schools must ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards.

Expert guidance is being applied using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Reopening of Schools and Universities Guidelines to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of virus transmission.

ASHRAE recommends a combination of the following practices:

  • Regular inspection and maintenance of HVAC systems
  • Increased supply of outside air to dilute indoor contaminants
  • Upgraded filtration, including installing MERV-13 filters where possible
  • Use of other air cleaning or treatment technologies
  • Management of energy use and air distribution through building automation control systems

Cleaning and disinfecting schools

General cleaning of schools, cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces will be conducted at least once in every 24-hour period and when visibly dirty.

COVID-19 protocols

Students and staff who become sick at school

If a student or staff member develops symptoms at school:

  • They will be given a mask and separated from their classmates or colleagues.
  • Separated children will be supervised and cared for
  • The student’s parent or guardian will be contacted, and asked to have their child picked up as soon as possible
  • Staff will be asked to go home as soon as possible
  • Custodial staff will clean and disinfect the areas the person used

COVID-19 exposure at school

If a student or staff member is confirmed to have COVID-19, and were potentially infectious while they were at school:

  • Public health will investigate to determine if there were any potential close contacts within the school

If it is determined that there are close contacts within the school, public health will:

  • Notify the school administrators and request information to assist with contact tracing
  • Provide guidance on what steps should be taken

Public health may then:

  • Recommend 14-day self-isolation if necessary
  • Recommend self-monitoring for symptoms if necessary
  • Provide follow-up recommendations if necessary

Schools will ensure students who required to self-isolate are able to continue their educational program. Together, schools and public health officials will determine if any other actions are necessary.

Parents, caregivers and families will be notified by public health if your child was determined to be a close contact of a COVID-19 positive person.

In and outside the classroom 

Music and physical education programs 

Students can participate in music and physical education programs, with additional safety measures in place.

  • Masks aren’t required when doing activities that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, like playing a wind instrument or participating in high-intensity physical activity
  • Students must continue to wear masks while singing
  • Shared equipment will be cleaned and disinfected, and students are encouraged to wash their hands before and after use
  • Students will be asked not to share equipment that touches the mouth, like an instrument mouthpiece or mouthguard, unless cleaned and disinfected in between uses

Sports, clubs and extracurricular activities 

Activities like sports team practices and games, sports academies and events can continue. They will follow local, regional, and provincial public health recommendations and orders for community gatherings and events.

  • Sport and extracurricular activities should be held outside whenever possible
  • Students will be encouraged to wash their hands before and after using equipment and cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing
  • Students will be asked not to share equipment that touches the mouth unless cleaned and disinfected in between uses

School meal programs

Food services (meal programs, cafeterias and fundraisers) will operate normally in the 2021/2022 school year.

Schools with existing meal programs will continue to work with community partners to provide meal support to families in need, in line with current public health guidelines.

Playgrounds 

Playgrounds are a safe environment. There is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in playgrounds. The following measures should be taken when using playgrounds:

  • Ensure students wash their hands before and after outdoor play
  • Minimize direct contact between students

Assemblies, concerts and gatherings

Larger indoor activities like school assemblies or multiple classes in a gym must follow current province-wide and regional restrictions. Participants should be seated throughout the area in such a way as to use all available space in the room.

 

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