Happy New Year to the St. Paul community, and I hope that the joy of Christmas brought light and love to each of your homes and hearts. The past two weeks have hopefully allowed each of us to connect deeply with family, as we celebrated the birth of our Saviour and rang in the hope for a brighter 2021.
Just before the break I expressed my heartfelt thanks to our school community for how well we have all adjusted to the many health and safety protocols in place at our school. I also know that COVID-fatigue is very much a reality, and I ask for your continued assistance in ensuring that we continue to help bend the curve. With that, I ask that we all regroup and refocus our attention on the current restrictions, and reduce the risk of COVID transmission upon returning to school by:
- Staying home when not feeling well. (Please complete the daily health check every day before sending your child to school)
- Maintaining at least two metres physical distance from others when outside of the class cohort.
- Washing/sanitizing hands frequently.
- Wearing masks on arrival and dismissal, and in high traffic areas when outside of the class cohort.
- Avoiding gathering with anyone outside of their household out of school hours.
- Seeking a COVID test as soon as possible after mild symptoms occur. This will significantly help to speed up the contact tracing process if the test result is positive.
We strongly encourage everyone to follow the provincial health and safety guidelines not just at school, but when we are out in the community as well. This helps to keep our school and our families safe.
Safety in Schools from Vancouver Coastal Health:
On Dec. 17th, I had the opportunity to participate in an informational webinar for all school principals in the Vancouver Coastal Health region with Dr. Alexandra Choi, Medical Health Officer. Dr. Choi provided the latest information regarding COVID-19 protocols, and how they relate to the K-12 sector. I felt it would be useful to share her update on the province’s COVID-19 response in BC schools:
- The pattern of transmission of COVID-19 is now well understood.
- Public health knows what safety measures work (those outlined above) and we need to focus on keeping those safety measures in place.
- How individuals interact at school and who interacts at school are very different than in other settings. As a result, the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools is substantially lower than in other settings.
- Health and safety measures in public settings differ from those in schools because the controls used in schools are not possible in public settings.
- Additional safety measures in schools are not needed at this time.
- Opening schools has had no significant effect on COVID-19 transmission in the community.
- Data indicates children are safest at school.
- Schools also offer additional social, emotional and mental health benefits for children.
As we return to school, we will continue to take our lead from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Ministry of Education, and CISVA; we will adjust any measures and/or protocols if directed. Given the low transmission rate in schools, it appears the health and safety measures that are currently in place for all BC schools are working.
For all information related to COVID-19 in Vancouver Coastal Health, please visit www.vch.ca.
We look forward to welcoming the students back, and are eager to begin this next term. There is hope on the horizon for 2021, but until we are through this pandemic entirely, we will continue to do our part.
Thank you, and God bless.
Yours in faith,