The BCTF sent an update to Local Presidents today with more details on the delayed start of school for most students. This update included details of the orders and guidance issued by the government to school districts. Summaries of this update are provided below. The PRDTU has not heard yet from SD52. At this time, teachers should continue to plan to report (in-person) to work on January 3, 2022, as per the school calendar.
There are two sets of guidelines/orders. One is from the Ministry of Education and the other is from the Ministry of Health. These are in addition to existing measures.
Ministry of Education New Mandates for Schools
The Ministry of Education has mandated the schools and school districts do the following things by the deadline of January 10th:
- Continue past safety practices given that the Omicron variant is, like other COVID-19 variants, an airborne virus. This means that effective mask and ventilation policies should continue to be in force.
- To learn more about how COVID-19 is an airborne virus, visit the following government of Canada website: https://bit.ly/3enBUMi.
- Update and distribute school communicable disease plans. The updated plans must include the following additional measures:
- Maximize space between people.
- Prevent crowding during transition and break times.
- Hold staff-only gatherings (meetings, professional development activities) virtually.
- Hold school gatherings (assemblies, parent-teacher interviews) virtually.
- If holding in-person gatherings (such as inter-school sports games or theatre productions), do not exceed 50% operating capacity and do not allow spectators.
- Limit visitors to schools to those who are directly supporting student learning or health.
- Extracurricular sports tournaments should be paused (defined as a single or multi-day gathering of three or more sports teams). What can continue are games between two teams and a gathering where the result will determine if a team advances to a national or international competition.
- Remind schools that all students, staff, and visitors are required to wear a mask indoors at school. Everyone who can (i.e., does not have a mask exemption) must wear a mask.
Ministry of Health New Guidelines for Schools
The Ministry of Health, through the BC Centre for Disease Control, has provided the following guidance for K-12 schools:
- Minimize the size of gatherings (defined as events that bring staff and students together outside of regular learning activities) or seek a virtual alternative when possible.
- Follow the guidelines for school extracurricular and social gatherings and events. Following applicable local, regional, or provincial public health recommendations and Orders. (Note: Most public health Orders do not apply to public schools or school districts.)
- Any gatherings and events that involve members of the community beyond staff, students, and necessary volunteers, or that occur between schools, should be limited to 50% operating capacity. Schools are discouraged from hosting indoor events where spectators from the community are invited to attend in-person.
- Follow government rules on international travel of school groups.
- Do not require proof of vaccination for educational activities (including extracurricular and before/after school programs).
- Arrange rooms to maximize space between students and staff.
- Limit visitors to the school to those who directly support student learning and health.
- Implement strategies that prevent crowding and consider ways to minimize crowding in common staff spaces.
The above guidance is in addition to other public health measures and is in place until January 31st.