Important Return to School Update
Dear VWS Families,
We hope you are all enjoying a well-deserved, relaxing and refreshing summer. We have good news to share for the upcoming school year.
We are happy to confirm that classrooms will open to students on September 8. Following the Ministry of Education’s recent announcement that school will resume in September under Stage 2 of BC’s K-12 Education Restart Plan, we are preparing to receive students in the safest manner possible. Although the decision to re-open schools may come with an element of trepidation for many, we are eager to welcome your children back and believe that both their physical and emotional well-being will be safe and well-served.
We know that you may have many questions and concerns about the return to school and assure you that we will share information and updates as quickly as possible. We have been busy designing teaching and class schedules to accommodate the new “cohort system” introduced by the Ministry, as well have been revamping our safety plans to incorporate all of the new guidelines. We are awaiting the release of the Ministry’s Operating Guidelines on August 17. The week following, we will submit our return-to-school plan to them and subsequently to you. In the meantime, here are some important points that you can expect:
- All students are expected to return to school full-time, like in pre-pandemic days. Since return-to-school is no longer voluntary (as it was last June during Stage 3), families who are not comfortable with sending their children to school will have the traditional option to either remain enrolled and be marked absent, or unenroll and register with a distance-learning school. (Exceptions to this are travel-related absences/quarantines and medically-based situations, for example, if a student is immuno-compromised.) More information on withdrawals will be available mid-August.
- With a full return to school, distance learning will no longer be available under Stage 2.
- The in-school density (spacing) requirements of last June no longer apply. Instead, students and teachers will be organized into learning groups (cohorts) which are consistent groups of staff and students, numbering up to 60 for elementary schools. This will reduce the number of contacts each student or staff member will have during the day, thereby reducing the risk of transmission and ensuring quicker contact tracing by health authorities, if necessary.
- Some things that haven’t changed include hand-washing protocols and regular sanitizing of high-traffic surfaces during the day. As previously established, parents may only come into the school to pick up a sick child or by special arrangement with their child’s teacher.
- Students, teachers and staff will not be required to wear masks while at school. However, anyone choosing to wear a mask is welcome to do so. A supply of disposable masks is available for emergency situations.
- Bus service will look a little different. Since cohorts will be allowed to mix on the school bus for the morning and afternoon runs, additional physical distancing measures will be introduced for getting on and getting off the bus as well as for sitting.
As always, we appreciate your support and are grateful for the opportunity to work through this unusual time together. It is not only of the greatest importance to us that your children are safe, but that they themselves feel lovingly protected, and that in spite of all the precautions necessary at this time, that they can learn and play freely within the safe environment both you and we together have created.