Health & Safety February Protocols

Dear VWS Community,

Per the updated guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) on February 4th, the Vancouver Waldorf School (VWS) is revising its Health and Safety Handbook – COVID-19. The MoE has recently confirmed that Independent Schools requiring protocols that are either more or less stringent than the guidelines they have provided will be considered non-compliant. Therefore, we appreciate your support in following the revised Health and Safety Handbook – COVID-19 to be published on our website by Friday, February 26th. A summary of changes to our current practices and processes follows below and will be in effect starting on Monday, February 22nd.

Please note that our elementary school is K – Grade 7 and our high school is Grades 8 through 12; we operate under guidelines applicable to each. The MoE has clarified the distinction between elementary and middle school, and as confirmed by the Federation of Independent Schools (FISA), we are well within health and safety requirements to operate our K – Grade 7 program as an elementary school.

  • Students in Grades 8-12 are required to wear masks while indoors, including in their classrooms, except while eating and at their desks. These students will have assigned seats.
  • Students in Grades 8-12 will also be required to wear masks while singing and during all indoor PE and activity classes, unless they are doing high exertion exercises.
  • Extended mask requirements for Grades 5-8 communicated to FFS and families on January 18th are no longer applicable (ie: elementary students are not required to wear a non-medical mask when in all common areas indoors).
  • Mask wearing for elementary students is a family choice and is not required at any time while elementary students are on school grounds.
  • No one claiming a mask exemption will be required to provide a doctor’s note; however, please let MT know if you think your student needs support around this.
  • Anyone with a mask exemption will be treated with respect and will not be treated in a punitive or stigmatized manner.
  • All K-12 teachers are required to wear masks while indoors, including in their classrooms, except while eating and at their workstations.
  • Parents may volunteer in support of classroom activities, indoors with a mask and while maintaining 2m physical distance from others, and outdoors while maintaining physical distance from others and wearing a mask when that is not possible. Parent volunteers must bring a mask with them for outdoor activities, just in case they find themselves in situations where they cannot maintain physical distance from others. Teachers can invite a maximum of one parent volunteer for indoor activities. In cases where buddy classes are engaging in activities together, one parent from each class can volunteer. There is no limit for outdoors volunteers, though teachers will indicate the appropriate number of volunteers required for the activity.
  • Adults are not required to wear masks outdoors while on campus unless they cannot maintain physical distance from others. All visitors should maintain physical distance and avoid crowding while on school grounds.

We acknowledge that there are a variety of opinions, responses, and emotions surrounding school protocols. Our decision-making is guided by our legal responsibilities and our commitment to our values. For the past twelve months, we have approached every decision related to COVID-19 with a view to being transparent, compassionate, and consistent. Our priorities remain the socio-emotional wellbeing, health, and safety of our students and their families, faculty and staff, and the wider community. We continue to welcome your clarifying questions, but please be mindful that, like you, we are trying to manage our unique professional, family and personal circumstances in trying times. The toll that responding to disrespectful correspondence takes on us as individuals is simply too great and takes our attention away from more fruitful endeavours. Please support us in our aim to remain balanced, respectful, responsible and considerate and give pause for thought before you hit send.

We are committed to supporting all of our stakeholders, and we thank you for your ongoing support, partnership, and trust.

The VWS Management Team