Hello St. Paul Families,
Thank you for your patience as we remained closed for an additional week after the Christmas break. This extension allowed public health and BC schools additional time to learn more about the potential impacts of the Omicron variant on schools, and to implement enhanced safety plans to support the safe continuation of in-class learning.
This week also allowed time for assessment and planning for school staff to implement the updated safety guidelines and plan for potential interruptions in learning, including the possibility of a functional school closure due to the inability to adequately staff the school due to the potential spread of the Omicron variant in the community.
Our staff have been on site all week preparing for the return, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back on Monday.
How will school look different next week?
I am pleased to say that, prior to the Christmas break, we were already doing 95% of the “additional prevention measures” outlined in the revised Addendum – COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings.
In addition, measures that are being reinstated next week are:
- Plexiglass barriers on student tables to prevent face to face exposure
- One class at a time in the hallways/stairwells
- School-wide assemblies will be paused
- Staff meetings will be virtual
- Parent/Teacher correspondence will be virtual
- Extra-curricular sports tournaments will be paused
- Dismissal will return to being staggered (details to come on Friday)
The most important measures that have succeeded in minimizing the spread of the virus in schools, and that we continue to reinforce, are:
- Everyone eligible getting vaccinated
- Complete the daily health check EVERY MORNING before school (use this tool)
- Stay home when sick
- Wearing masks appropriately
- Effective hand hygiene
- Cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place
What is a “functional closure”?
In the event that a school is unable to provide enough staff for the required level of teaching, supervision, support, and/or custodial staff to ensure the health and safety of students, the school (or an individual class) would close. This would likely be due to a high degree of absenteeism of staff members, and the inability to replace those absences.
If this were to happen, the school/teacher would then move to an online model of curriculum delivery for the duration of the closure, and the students would learn from home. The decision for a functional closure is a local one, made by our PEC, with guidance and approval from CISVA.
Along the same lines, a “health closure” is determined by the health authority, and would be based on the COVID-19 case count in, or related to, a school.
Will there be an option to learn from home like last year?
No. The only time there will be online curriculum delivery is if the school has a temporary functional closure.
What does the school exposure notification process look like?
Contact tracing has changed a great deal in the last month due to the high number of confirmed cases. The Ministry of Education is currently working with the Ministry of Health, local medical health officers, and the BCCDC to update current procedures in response to the Omicron variant. Updated information will be shared with schools in the coming weeks.
Where can I find the school’s Communicable Disease Plan?
Our Communicable Disease Plan is currently being updated this week, and will be posted to the school website by Friday afternoon.
Again, I thank you for your patience and flexibility as we encounter yet another shift in this journey that we are on. There is a great deal of pessimism out there on the news, on social media, and even in our social circles. The recent case numbers are alarming, and with a backwards shift from where we thought we would be as a society by now, it can be hard to stay positive.
But we need to.
We have been here before. We didn’t think we’d still be faced with these challenges at this point, but they are not new and we know what we need to do. Together, our role as educators and parents is to guide the children to grow into responsible, contributing, faith-filled members of society, so that when they grow up and face societal challenges of their own, they will face them with the same strength, endurance, and hope that we model for them today.
Thank you for the trust you place in us by sending your children to St. Paul’s. Take care, and we’ll see you all on Monday.
Yours in faith,