The Chilliwack School District has now released detailed back-to-school protocols amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
A 10-page plan is available on their main website, and lists everything from illness screening and contact tracing, to bus rules and water filling stations.
“The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a rapidly evolving situation that has disrupted the lives of many and has significantly changed the way the Chilliwack School District operates,” the plan states. “To guide us through these uncertain times, Lets’ emó:t – one heart one mind working together – was developed to serve as a framework for September 2020 and beyond. This document establishes guidelines for addressing the health, safety, teaching and learning needs of our students and staff.”
Notably, Chilliwack high schools are moving to an octet system, which consists of eight very short semesters of about 22 days each. Each semester, a student will cover one subject only.
Some highlights from the guiding document are as follows:
Health & Safety
The district notes that “these protocols are intended to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, but do not completely eliminate all risk.”
• Cohorts (learning groups)
• Screening for illness
• Strict illness protocols
• Handwashing and sanitizing
• Cleaning standards
• Physical distancing
• Personal protective equipment (PPE), like non-medical masks
Screening for Illness
Before coming to school each day, all staff and students must complete the B.C. Centre for Disease Control Daily Health Self-Assessment to determine whether they can attend or must stay home. Families will be expected to complete the assessment daily and follow all health instructions, which serve as a tool to assess their child’s wellness before sending them to school. Students who have any symptoms noted on the questionnaire cannot attend school.
When a student presents sick with symptoms similar to COVID-19, the student will be asked to wear a mask (if they can safely do so). Designated staff will also wear a mask and will:
• Isolate the child in a room;
• Contact the parents/guardians to take the child home;
• Clean and disinfect the exposure areas
The district repeats the Ministry of Education’s stance that most children who are immunocompromised can return to in-class instruction when safety measures are in place. Protective self-isolation is only recommended for children who are severely immunocompromised, as determined on a case-by- case basis and in consultation with a family physician.
If There is a COVID-19 Case at School
Positive COVID-19 cases are only confirmed by official public health authorities, in Chilliwack’s case, the Fraser Health Authority.
If a student shows any COVID-19 symptoms at school where confirmed case has been identified, there are safety protocols in place to protect students and staff:
• The child waits in an isolated room;
• The school contacts parents/guardians to take the child home;
• Staff clean and disinfect exposure areas; and
• School district notifies public health officials.
If a positive case occurs, the local public health authority will:
• Contact trace to identify potential COVID-19 exposures;
• May recommend testing;
• May recommend 14-day isolation if necessary;
• Get in touch with close contacts; and
• Provide follow-up recommendations as needed, which may include suspending in-class learning.
The Chilliwack School District says they strongly supports in-class instruction as the preferred method for most students. Additionally, they add, parents may choose:
• Hybrid learning offered at Hybrid Learning on the district website.
• Distributed Learning offered outside the Chilliwack School District through an online learning center.
• Homeschooling offered outside the Chilliwack School District with a home facilitator.
Before selecting an alternative to in-class instruction, parents should carefully review options and speak to their school administration.
Strong Starts, Preschools and Day cares
All Strong Start locations will open at the end of September. Locations and schedules will be available on the school district website by mid-September. Connect with specific school sites for information regarding daycare, preschool, and before and after school care programs.
Equitable Support for Diverse Learners
The document reads: “To ensure equitable access to learning, we will pay specific attention to the diverse needs of our students. School-based teams will prepare for differentiated supports for vulnerable students. These students will be prioritized for higher access to daily interventions and they will also have access to enhanced transition support to start the school year. This includes connecting with families of students who are medically fragile and ensuring that case managers collaborate closely with classroom teachers on student plans.”
To support new families and/or students who are English language learners (ELL), teachers and the English Language Learning Department will provide resources and supports to ensure the success of each student.
Aboriginal Education Assistants and Aboriginal Enhancement Teachers will provide a range of supports for Aboriginal students and families. Cultural activities will be provided in partnership with key Aboriginal stakeholders (First Nations, Metis Association, Stó:lō Nation).
Only international students already in Canada and who have pre-registered for the 2020–2021 school year will be accommodated at this time. The province has indicated that after Canada lifts current travel restrictions and non-essential travel resumes, international education programs can resume. International students would need to follow quarantine requirements and any relevant public health orders.
Work Experience and Apprenticeship Programs
Schools will continue to offer work experience and apprenticeship programs and will work with the district’s Occupational Health and Safety team to make sure all placements have appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
Mental Health & Well-Being
The district’s focus will be on connecting students back to school using a trauma-informed approach to support safety, belonging, and inclusion. Every student will continue to have access to supports and services to address mental health concerns through our existing referral process. School counsellors will provide support and facilitate referrals to community mental health services for students.
Supports for Staff
Professional development opportunities for staff to increase knowledge and skills will be provided. Examples include:
• Health and well-being sessions hosted by Student Services and Human Resources
• Trauma Informed practice
• Mental Health First Aid
• Mental Health Literacy Training
• Cultural Sensitivity Training
• Mental Health First Aid training
Individual COVID-19 return plans are posted on each school’s website, and those with questions or specific concerns are asked to reach out to their school administrators for answers.
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