Letter from the Superintendent

Posted on

March 26, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I truly hope this message finds you and your family well. Since my message to you last week, we have been continuing to plan to support you, your children, our staff, and our community after the Spring Break. Through this planning, we have continued to collaborate with our Public Health Officer, the Ministry of Education, other School Districts, and our staff to prepare for the weeks to come. I am hoping that this letter provides some further details to you but know that it will not answer many of your important questions. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Education and our staff to keep getting you the clearest information we can over the following weeks. The Ministry of Education has also just released this new FAQ page with lots of important information.

General
As you know, in-class instruction for all students has been suspended until further notice. Schools, however, will remain open for very limited required public service, with a priority on providing child care support to Essential Service Workers (ESWs) who are unable to make arrangements for that. Please see the information below in this letter to tell us if you are an Essential Service Worker who will need child care support.

Continuous student learning opportunities will be provided for your child. Your school principal will be reaching out to you very soon. They will be asking you about your child’s access to resources and ability to connect online from home. For example, is your wifi strong enough at home for your child to access online learning resources and does your child have a device they can use for their continuous learning? They will make individual plans for those of you who may require support with this. As well, if your child requires materials or a device from the school, you will be receiving information from your school principal about how to sign up for a very brief and safe drop in time later next week.

Your principal or a learning specialist teacher will also be reaching out to you next week about any additional learning support which your child may need. A plan will be made to assist with those functional needs to ensure your child can access their ongoing learning.

Learning and Assessment
On Monday morning, March 30th, principals and vice-principals will be holding staff meetings regarding initial planning for continuous learning opportunities for all of our students, and what that might look like over the coming weeks.
Following Monday morning’s staff meetings, teachers and support staff will focus on establishing initial communication with your child. It is our priority that we build this connection with your child to welcome them back from Spring Break, let them know that we are thinking about them, and that we will be in contact with them in the near future regarding continuity of their learning. We ask that you support your child in responding back to our staff to begin their ongoing communication with each other.

For the rest of the week, teachers will have the opportunity to engage in relevant professional learning and time for planning fitted to their needs around providing continuity of learning to their students. We are adding a selection of subscriptions for online academic resources you will be able to use from home. We are also preparing for a variety of online forums through programs like Moodle, Zoom, and Google Classroom. We have purchased additional devices to support you at home.

For our students in Grades 10 and 11, all graduation assessments have been postponed. For our students in Grade 12, I want to reassure you that if you are eligible to graduate, your graduation will not be affected by this suspension of your in-class instruction. The only graduation assessment required for Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. The Ministry of Education will ensure that any of you who have not yet completed the Grade 10 numeracy assessment and who are otherwise on track to graduate will be able to meet this requirement. The Ministry of Education continues to work with all post secondary institutions to ensure maximum flexibility regarding student applications for next school year.

All students, we ask that you engage as fully as you are able in your teachers’ continuous learning plans. We will provide flexibility for you in managing the ongoing learning as we know so many of you will be needed as important, contributing members of our community, and may be providing services, such as child care to emergency service providers or other forms of important family support. You will not be expected to complete work that you are not able to do. Stay in touch with your teachers about your learning plan.

Child Care Support for Essential Service Workers (ESWs)
The provincial government has established Essential Service Workers (ESWs) as those individuals considered critical to preserving life, health and societal functioning – including emergency responders, front-line health care workers, and critical infrastructure and supply chain (e.g. food, medicine) workers.
• Tier 1: healthcare workers and emergency responders;
• Tier 2: workers supporting vulnerable populations (e.g. social workers, income assistance workers); utilities workers and workers supporting key supply chain functions (e.g. grocery store workers, warehouse workers), and;
• Tier 3: teachers and childcare workers who do not have access to childcare and who are providing care or instruction to children of ESWs.

We are conducting a child care needs assessment (survey) for ESWs as well as for families with unique child care needs. Although we are unsure of what services we can provide at this time, if you are a family with unique child care needs who feel that you may require additional support, please let us know by filling out this survey. After you have completed the survey, our support staff will be reaching out to you individually in the coming weeks.

Facilities & Operations
All schools are closed to outside user groups. Our school playgrounds are closed and have been taped off by district staff for extra precautionary measures.
We continue to liaise regularly with our local medical health officer to ensure that protocols are in place in schools as per the guidelines provided by the Provincial Health Officer. Principals are ensuring that safety plans are in place for each school and will continue to follow the highest standards of care, including cleaning practices and physical distancing.

Resources Available re COVID-19
A new government website has been launched for parents and guardians with up-to-date non-clinical information on COVID-19. British Columbians can also use the new provincial phone service by calling 1- 888-COVID19, available seven days a week from 7:30AM to 8PM, with information in over 110 languages. Specific public health questions re: COVID-19 should be directed to your local health authority for response.

• COVID-19 FAQ
• BC Children’s Hospital – How to talk to your children about Covid-19
• Symptom Tracker
• BC Division of Family Practice
To access your family doctor, call their office. If you do not have a family doctor, click on the virtual care button at https://www.divisionsbc.ca/sea-sky/, for access to virtual care during this time. Please do not just show up to clinics.
Mental Health Resources Available
Should you find yourself or your child in need of mental health support at this time, there are excellent community supports available.
You can contact Child and Youth Mental Health in Squamish at 604-892-1400, and in Whistler and Pemberton at 604-894-2091.
As well, your child can reach the Kids Help Phone by:
• Texting CONNECT to 686868 to reach a trained volunteer Crisis Responder 24/7, or;
• Calling 1-800-668-6868 to speak with a professional counsellor 24/7.
In Closing
Again, I do hope this letter finds you well. We look forward to connecting with your child next week. Thank you in advance for supporting them with maintaining a connection with their school. Stay well everyone.

Sincerely,

Lisa McCullough
Superintendent of Schools

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