Dear Parent(s), Guardian(s), and Caregiver(s),
I want to welcome you and your child(ren) back to School District 83 for another year of learning and growing together. It is indeed an honour to be given the opportunity to join your school district as the Superintendent.
I am fortunate to work alongside a Board of Trustees who are dedicated to student success, a leadership team who is invested in improving outcomes for all students and a district staff who work tirelessly to put “Students First” in their daily work. I am hopeful that you and your children have enjoyed a restful summer!
The previous school year posed a variety of challenges for you, your children and the district. Though COVID-19 has resulted in many changes, the one thing it has not been able to alter is School District 83’s resolve to fulfill our mission of “Engaging all students in meaningful and relevant learning experiences that develop their knowledge, skills, attitudes, creativity, and the pursuit of personal success”.
Full-Time In-Person Instruction:
The Ministry of Education along with Public Health Officials have collaborated in ensuring that students will experience a “safe return to school”. I want to share some of the health and safety protocols that have been established and I am hopeful that this information will reduce anxiety for families as we look forward to returning to school.
On August 24, 2021 the Government of British Columbia shared a media release confirming that students within the province would be returning to full-time, in person instruction this September. Due to an increase of COVID-19 cases within the Interior Health Region, we are awaiting further direction regarding sports, music and other extra-curricular activities. Understanding the importance of these activities, we are hopeful that students within our district will be able to resume all activities within these areas without restriction.
Preventative Health & Safety Protocols: Listed below are the preventative health and safety measures that will continue from last year. Please note that the school district will continue to ensure that all infection prevention and exposure control measures co-developed between public health officials and the Ministry of Education are met or exceeded when students and staff return to school in September.
- Staff and students are to continue to do their own Daily Health Check and should remain home if they are not feeling well.
- Mask wearing indoors for all K-12 staff and visitors as well as students in grades 4 to 12, including at their desks and on school buses.
- Mask wearing indoors strongly encouraged for students in Kindergarten to grade 3.
- General cleaning of the premises, and the cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, will occur at least once in a 24-hour period.
- Continued focus on rigorous hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Maintain building air ventilation as per standards and specifications for ongoing comfort.
What is different for the 2021-2022 school year:
- Students will no longer be organized in learning groups/cohorts.
- Schools will work to implement measures such as respecting others personal space and engage in outside activities and learning as much as possible.
- A new Communicable Disease Plan will replace our District’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. It will have many similarities to our current Safety Plan but will reflect any ongoing measures and additional measures to be implemented as advised by public health.
- Regional Medical Health Officers will now have the authority to implement additional safety requirements at a regional, district or school level during times of increased community transmission of COVID-19.
- School gatherings and events will align with provincial/regional public health recommendations and orders.
- School sports; extra-curricular activities & assemblies; theatre and dance performances; and staff gatherings and meetings can now occur but are subject to direction of the Local and Regional Health Officer.
Additional information can be found in the Ministry of Education comprehensive document:Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings.
As the new school year begins, Interior Health wants to ensure that students and families are protected against COVID-19. As a result, Interior Health plans to run vaccination clinics at various schools within our district as a convenience for families. Schools will send home notices to families from Interior Health, so parents/guardians/caregivers are informed regarding the vaccination clinics.
Heading into the 2021-22 school year, I would like to express my appreciation for your ongoing efforts to ensure we have a safe and successful school year. I am most appreciative of your support of SD83 and I am certain that if we work collaboratively, we will be able to quickly adapt, innovate and be flexible when challenges arise, while keeping the students’ learning experience at the centre.
We are looking forward to welcoming all students back on September 7, 2021. Enjoy the last days of the summer!
SD83 Superintendent of Schools
As the new school year begins, SD83 wants to re-iterate that the first goal of its strategic plan is Students First, which means student success is our top priority every day. This goal closely aligns with the BC curriculum, which offers students the opportunity to personalize their learning, and understand things in a deeper, more meaningful way. This will increase student engagement and develop and strengthen important life skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.
Our second goal is Organizational Efficiency, so decisions and actions are clear, purposeful, and responsible.
Our third and final goal, is creating a Culture of Health and Wellness, where students and staff are healthy, and connected to the learning community.
In upcoming newsletters we will share examples of how SD83 is doing in meeting the goals set out in the strategic plan.
SD83’s Strategic Plan
SD83’s Framework for Enhancing Student Learning
SD83’s District Learning Plan
Health and Safety focus as we start the new year
Our student’s health and safety has always been a top priority in SD83, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more of a focus.
Additional cleaning will take place to ensure SD83 schools meet requirements set out by the provincial health office. Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings.
Autoscrubbers have been purchased for every school to make floor cleaning more efficient. Products have been purchased which have a disinfectant component that can be used on both tile and carpeted surfaces. All classroom and office areas are being supplied with cleaning materials for regular staff to use as needed.
Students and staff will be encouraged to wash or sanitize hands regularly, and signage has been placed in all washrooms to outline expectations. Hand sanitizer is available in every class, copy room, and on the sign-in table at every site.
Our Communicable Disease Plan (which will soon be posted on our website) outlines a number of steps describing symptoms and response to symptoms when discovered on site. Each site also has a safe isolation space to house staff or student in the event someone gets ill at school and this space is required.
Parents will once again need to do daily health checks with their children. K-12 Daily Check information is available here.
Masks in classes
All K to 12 staff and visitors are required to wear masks in all indoor areas. All students in grades 4-12 are required to wear masks in all indoor areas including while at their desks and on school buses. 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.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 temporarily removed to identify 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
Kindergarten and gradual entry
Do you have a child starting kindergarten this year? Welcome!In SD83 Kindergarten children are welcomed into their new school at the beginning of September by their classroom teacher and other key staff members, including the StrongStart educators, using the Gradual Entry model. Students will attend in small groups and/or for shorter periods of time. The gradual entry process helps support a smooth and successful transition into Kindergarten. Teachers will be introducing children to classroom routines and procedures and helping the students adjust to the new social and emotional realities of school, in addition to COVID-19 safety protocols. This year, Gradual Entry will take place from Tuesday, September 7th to Friday, September 17th. Schools will be reaching out to Kindergarten families with their school-specific gradual entry schedule prior to school start-up.
National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
North Okanagan-Shuswap School District No. 83 will be observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, September 30, so schools will be closed on this day. This announcement addresses one of the 94 calls to action of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission which states: “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”SD83 typically holds Orange Shirt Day activities on the 30th. These events will be moved to a different day. Please watch for your school newsletter to find out when they will take place at your child(ren)’s school. The image above was created for SD83 orange shirts this year by local Indigenous artist Tania Willard.
StrongStart begins in mid-September
Do you have, or know someone, with young children? SD83 offers learning opportunities for youngsters from newborn to age 5. StrongStart is a free school-based program that provides play-based early learning opportunities for children and their parents or caregivers. For the first few weeks of September, our StrongStart educators help students with the transition to kindergarten and then head back to their own programs for the new year! All StrongStart programs will open to families starting Tuesday, September 21st. Families can contact the school to register.
READ MORE HERE
Educational Outreach Program (EOP)
The Educational Outreach Program (EOP) is a SD83 online distributed learning program, which is available for students in grade one through grade 12. This program utilizes qualified teachers and recognized BC curriculum and resources. Most learning takes place in the on-line environment, but because staff is local, we can also provide small amounts of in-person support.
We would like to caution parents who are considering this option instead of attending their local school, that while some students do thrive in an on-line program, the vast majority are far more successful and happy with in-person learning at their local school.
For more information on this option please go to EOP’s website here
Some parents may also be considering homeschooling. This option requires that parents take almost complete charge of their child’s education. Parents who choose to homeschool must register their child by September 30th of each year with either a public or independent school.
For students with significant health concerns that may qualify them for additional support through a hospital homebound program, we ask that you contact your child’s school principal to discuss their specific needs. This type of support is offered only in special cases and will require medical documentation.
If the red lights are flashing please don’t be passing!
SD83 would like to ask all drivers to PLEASE be extra careful while travelling near our students, schools, and school buses.
School District No. 83 Transportation Manager Andrea Kathrein comments that last year there were many times when drivers passed school buses when the red lights were flashing and a couple of very scary incidents! Flashing red lights indicate that students are either loading or unloading from the bus.
“Drivers passing the buses during this time are putting our children at risk. Please slow down when you see the flashing yellow lights on a school bus and STOP when you see the flashing red lights.”
Safety Alert Messages
There is a bear visiting the school playground. There is an accident on the road and students need to be evacuated from their school. There’s a wicked snowstorm, branches are falling and it is time for school to be dismissed. A suspect is evading the RCMP and is near a school. These are just a few examples of emergencies which may affect our schools.
SD83 has emergency protocols and plans to help keep our students and staff safe. Along with the RCMP and other B.C. school districts, there is also a common terminology to describe our response to a variety of different scenarios which we would like to share with parents.
READ MORE HERE
if there is any type of emergency, the contact information on file with the school is how the school or district personnel will try to reach you. Please ensure this information is correct and up to date. Also, have you changed your email address? School and district communications are often sent by email so please ensure this is up to date as well. Thank you!
North Okanagan-Shuswap School District No. 83 does not provide accident insurance coverage for student injuries that occur on school premises or during off-site school activities. Accidents can and do happen. To help protect our students, the District suggests that parents/guardians check with your local insurance provider or on-line for other options.
READ MORE HERE
Monday, Sept. 6 – Labour Day (statutory holiday)
Tuesday, Sept. 7 – Welcome Back to School (schools dismiss three hours early)
Friday, Sept. 17 – Last Day for Kindergarten gradual entry
Monday, Sept. 20 – Non-instructional day (school based professional development day)
Thursday, Sept. 30 – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (schools closed)
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