Dear Gaglardi Community:
On behalf of the School Board and myself, we thank and congratulate all our staff, students, and families for their teamwork and unwavering commitment to our school community's health and safety. Many of us are growing weary of COVID, but the end is in sight. The news release yesterday informs us that we still have some work to do, and we must press on towards our goal and not give up. Please know that regardless of how you receive the news, the school is working diligently to ensure that classrooms remain open, children and staff are safe, and important social and academic learning is taking place!
Yesterday afternoon, the Ministry of Education and our Public Health Officer released an update to the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 settings. A summary of these updates can be found at the beginning of the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings. All updates are highlighted throughout the document in yellow. These guidelines were revised based on the public health guidance for K-12 schools from the BC Centre for Disease Control, and in consultation and collaboration with all education sector partners and Indigenous rightsholders through a provincial steering committee.
The main areas of change to our current protocols are:
A requirement that all grade 6-12 students and K-12 staff wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas including when they are with their learning groups. The only exceptions are when:
(a) sitting or standing at their seat or workstation (i.e. whiteboard) in a classroom;
(b) there is a protective barrier in place;
(c) they are eating or drinking;
Every school day, parents should continue to supply their children with a fresh/clean mask, especially in grades 6 through 12.
Singing - Music & Band
All K-12 staff and grades 6-12 students wear masks while singing. This includes Music and Band classes. The children in K-5 are permitted to sing without masks but there is a requirement that physical distancing guidelines be maintained and there is a source of fresh air ventilation. Unlike other schools, lifting our voices in praise to God is a significant part of our Christian culture so this protocol is significant for our community.
PE & Sports Activities (K-12)
Activities that include prolonged physical contact between students within a learning group (Cohort) are no longer permitted in PE classes or within a classroom. Staff are strongly encouraged to prioritize outdoor activities or adapt activities to reduce physical contact. According to the protocols, an activity like tag or touch football is at lower risk than wrestling and rugby.
Besides these important areas, there are also improved protocols regarding staff interactions and shared spaces, cleaning and sanitizing, direction to reduce crowding and gathering, particularly in close face-to-face contact, and other key updates. Many of the key updates announced yesterday we already have in place. Some of these include restricted visitor access, non-passive health declarations, contact tracing systems, staggered entrances, etc.
The Ministry of Education expects every school to update its COVID Health and Safety Plan and post it to its website no later than the end of February. Mrs. Johnson will let you know when Gaglardi's full plan is posted.
Finally, please remember us in your prayers. While these enhancements are necessary steps in our fight against the spread of COVID-19 in our school community, it is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who sustains us. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you safe.