Health and safety big part of back to school planning

Health and safety big part of back to school planning

As SD83 prepares for Stage 3 (voluntary return to in-class learning), we would like to share our ongoing planning, and explain the preparations that are already under way. We will continue to update you, as needed, as we move towards the part-time return to classrooms on June 1 and beyond.

We would like to acknowledge that these changes may place additional stress on all our students and their families as well as our staff and their families. While there are many positives to returning to some semblance of normal, there is understandable anxiety around safety, and uncertainties around ‘how it will work’.

Much organization and thought is going into preparing our schools including:

  • Survey all families to see if they intend to send their children to school, and how often.
  • Follow up communication to families that have not completed the survey to ensure all families are contacted regarding their intentions for June.
  • Inform parents which days their children will attend
  • Reduce kindergarten to grade 5 Home Learning support and interactions for May 25-29 to allow teachers and staff to set-up classrooms and prepare to receive students
  • Have Health and Safety Teams at each school review the site-based safety plans
  • Put in place health and safety procedures at each school
  • Have every school staff ‘practice’ the week before return to in-class instruction. This will allow us to identify any improvements we need to make before the return of students.
  • Follow Ministry Guidelines around maximum class sizes (50%) and school densities (50% for K to 5) and (20% for Grade 6 to 12) and strategies to minimize physical contact
  • Organize custodial staff for daytime cleaning supports in each school to accommodate occupancy

What is Stage 3?

  • Voluntary in-class learning for students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 (K-5) on a part-time basis (up to 50 per cent)
  • Voluntary access to in-class learning as needed for Grades 6 to 12 on a part-time basis (up to 20 per cent)
  • Remote and online learning continues to be available for students

What will schools look like?

SD83 will follow the expectations of the Ministry which includes voluntary in-class instruction across the district while continuing to support vulnerable learners and students with designated special needs.

Each class and school in SD83 may look different as each situation is being tailored to the number of students who choose to return to school and the number that continue with home learning opportunities.

Children attending school in K-5 will be learning outside more frequently (playgrounds are open) and washing their hands more frequently (see below). Recess and lunch times will be split so that there are fewer students on the playground at any one time. Schools will have daytime custodial staff cleaning as students are in the school. Each class will also have sanitizer and disinfectant to use as needed (more information below).


SD83 will follow the Provincial Guidelines of one student per seat, or two students per seat if from the same household. It will take some time to finalize this plan. Transportation is reviewing survey information from parents on who needs busing and is adapting/customizing routes to fit student/school needs. Parents will be contacted by email or phone about pick up times if they have requested busing.

Family Responsibilities

  • Parents and caregivers have the responsibility to assess their children before sending them to school. This includes checking their child for any symptoms including: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or sneezing.
  • Children who show any signs of illness must be kept at home and parents must notify the school.
  • If family members of the children show any signs of illness, the school should be notified and students must be kept at home.
  • Children or family members who have had direct contact with a person that is COVID-19 positive should not attend school until they have been cleared by a health professional.
  • Self-isolation questions can be answered here: BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. If you have concerns contact 8-1-1, your family physician, or the local public health unit.
  • Children who are ill are not to return to school until cleared by a health professional to return
  • Children are to be dropped off at the designated entrance to the school using site specific protocols. Principals will send details once numbers are known.
  • Families are asked to send only the items their child may need for the time they are at school, limiting any unnecessary belongings. Ensure personal items are well labelled.
  • If your child develops symptoms while at school, they will be isolated, and a parent/guardian will be contacted and required to pick up the child as soon as possible.
  • To ensure efficient entry and exit of students while respecting physical distancing expectations, parents/guardians are expected to make sure that pick-ups and drop-offs happen at the scheduled time.
  • Provide a full water bottle for their child to bring to school each day (water fountains are closed)

School Responsibilities Cleaning (while students and staff are in attendance)

  • Schools will ensure regular cleaning and disinfecting of sites at least once a day.
  • Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day. These include doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, tables, desks, chairs, keyboards and toys.
  • Items that cannot be easily cleaned will not be used (e.g., dress up clothing and stuffed toys)
  • Garbage cans will be emptied daily.
  • Hand sanitizer and/or soap and water will be available throughout the building. Sanitizers will be available at entrances to sites. Students and staff will be reminded to wash their hands regularly and signs will be posted.

Site Access

  • Schools are open only to staff and those students who have indicated that they will be attending (schedules will be provided to families by schools).
  • Parents and caregivers and other non-staff adults entering the school will be by appointment only. Ideally, please communicate by phone and/or email.
  • Everyone entering SD83 sites must practice diligent hand hygiene including cleaning their hands upon entry.

Physical Distancing

  • Where practical, a two metre physical distancing rule will be followed and children will be spread out. For younger children, maintaining physical distance is less practical and the focus will be on minimizing physical contact (e.g. “Hands to Yourself”, respect two metre floor markings, avoid close greetings like hugs).
  • Children will go outside more often; playgrounds will be open.
  • Staggered drop off and pick up times and staggered lunch times may occur at sites to minimize contact.
  • No face to face large group assemblies or school-wide events will be held.

Student and Staff Responsibilities

  • Follow all site-based health and safety protocols.
  • Personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves are not needed according to BC Public Health, beyond those used by staff as part of regular precautions from hazards.
  • There is no evidence to support the use of medical-grade cloth or homemade masks in school settings at this time. Wearing a mask is a personal choice.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Do not use cubbies or lockers.
  • Bring your own filled water bottle. Water fountains will not be accessible.
  • Only bring essential items, limiting any unnecessary belongings.
  • Everyone will wash their hands more often for at least 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Do not share food, drinks, or personal items.
  • Physical distance whenever possible (two metres) and “minimize any physical contact”.
  • As required in your workspace, assist with cleaning areas you have contacted.
  • Immediately notify the administration if you become ill while at school.

When Students Should Perform Hand Hygiene:

  • When they arrive at school and before they go home.
  • Before and after any breaks (e.g., recess, lunch)
  • Between different learning environments (e.g., outdoor-indoor transitions, from the gym to the classroom).
  • Before and after eating and drinking.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After handling common resources/equipment/supplies or pets.
  • After sneezing or coughing into their hands.
  • Whenever their hands are visibly dirty.

Classroom Disinfectant

Every classroom will be equipped with a low concentration but effective solution put in a spray bottle to allow for immediate sanitizing of any objects. Safety instructions, training and protocols for staff will be provided. No PPE is required with this product.

The Use of Personal Protective Equipment

  • Personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and gowns are not recommended for staff who work in the education sector. It is only recommended for healthcare workers, and those with other non- infectious occupational health exposures.
  • Masks are not recommended for use by children unless advised to do so by a health care provider. In young children in particular, masks can be irritating and may lead to increased touching of the face and eyes.
  • School site employees may wear Personal Protection Equipment if they believe it will make themselves or others around them safer, however School District 83 will not be supplying PPE at this time.

After June 1st, we ask Parents and Caregivers contact the school directly if they change status of whether their child is attending or not attending school, so that schools can plan accordingly.

Each week school teams will create weekly class organization structures within the 50% normal classroom limits.

Supporting the K-12 Education Response to COVID-19 in B.C.
MOE K-12 Provincial COVID Health & Safety Guidelines
Centre for Disease Control – Health Guidelines for the Education Sector
WorkSafe BC Education Protocols
B.C. K – 12 Education Restart Plan