On February 4th, 2021, the Ministry of Education provided significant updates to the health and safety plans for BC schools. The last major updates to these plans were in September 2020. Most of the updates we are already doing, and the updated documents will help ensure that our plans are clearer and a more accurate reflection of what is happening in the school. This document is not a list of all the updates but, of what we believe to be key updates to the St. Bernadette COVID-19 Health and Safety plans. We strongly urge parents to read all of the health and safety documents on our website.
LEARNING GROUPS AND PHYSICAL DISTANCING – Key updates
- When possible, St. Bernadette School will use the principal and/or the learning resource teacher to be a teacher in the classroom as opposed to bringing in a temporary teacher on call. This will minimize the number of adults interacting with the students and will use current staff who are knowledgeable and fully understand the methods and design of the school’s health and safety plan.
- St. Bernadette School will have educational assistant practicum students in the school. These students will be assigned to a learning group.
- The school has implemented strategies that prevent crowding at pick-up and drop-off times
- Classes are to enter and exit through their classroom doors (grade 4 will use the gym doors)
- Start and end times are staggered, and classes will exit a few minutes apart.
- Kindergarten and Gr. 1 will be picked up from the classroom. All other grades will have a designated waiting area for pick-up.
- Staff are required to wear masks when indoors, especially when they are unable to maintain physical distancing, and a barrier is not present.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING INSTRUCTIONS – Key updates
- Ensure that the use of masks does not reduce or replace practicing physical distancing and other prevention measures for both students and staff. Masks are not a replacement for physical distancing
- Parents, caregivers, health-care providers, volunteers, and other non-staff people (e.g. visitors) entering the school will be limited to those supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and wellbeing
- St. Bernadette School will use positive and inclusive approaches to promote preventive measures and the school will foster a culture of practice and awareness of preventative measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The school will avoid punitive measures or enforcement activities that exclude students from fully participating in school or that could result in stigma
- PHE classes, extra-curricular exercises and sport activities will occur outside whenever possible
- There will be no activities, indoor or outdoor, that include prolonged physical contact or crowding
- Elementary students are less able to consistently practice physical distancing. Outdoors is a lower-risk environment than indoors. When possible, students should not gather in large social groups that put themselves closer than 2 meters to other students
- All school gatherings or events that are not educational activities (Year End BBQ, Grade 7 Farewell, etc.) will adhere to the PHO Order for Gathers and Events
- School Masses are considered an educational activity and is a part of the Religious Education curriculum of the school. All school Masses will adhere to the same protocols and regulations as assemblies and other educational gatherings
DISINFECTION AND CLEANING PROTOCOLS – Key updates
- St. Bernadette’s will use commercial disinfectant products listed on Canada’s hard surface disinfectants for use against COVID-19
- St. Bernadette’s will follow the procedures outlined in the BCCDC Cleaning and Disinfectants for Public Settings Document when cleaning and disinfecting.
- The School will replace HVAC air filters with Merv-13 filters monthly.
- The school will follow these procedures, in conjunction with school policies, when cleaning and disinfecting bodily fluids (e.g. runny nose, vomit, blood, stool, urine)
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning blood or body fluids.
- Wash hands before wearing and after removing gloves.
- Follow regular health and safety procedure and regularly used PPE for blood and bodily fluids.
- The school will provide supervision for younger children when they are unwell. Supervising staff should wear a non-medical mask and face shield if they are unable to maintain physical distance. They are to avoid touching bodily fluids as much as possible and practice diligent hand hygiene.
ILLNESS AND HEALTH CHECK POLICIES AND PROTOCOLS – Key updates
Click on the link for the BCCDC self-assessment tool: https://bc.thrive.health
Click on the link for the BCCDC new health check app: https://www.k12dailycheck.gov.bc.ca/healthcheck?execution=e1s1
- Bernadette School continues to clearly communicate with parents/caregivers their responsibility to assess their children daily before sending them to school and keep them home from school if they are sick or if they have been directed to self-isolate by their local health authority. Parents are to check their newsletter weekly, read all email communication from the school and attend virtual parent information nights.
- Parents and caregivers should assess their children daily for illness before sending them to school.
- St. Bernadette’s is not required to verify that the student health check has occurred every day or require that parents/caregivers submit a daily health check form.
- Students, staff members or other adults should stay at home when sick, as this is one of the most important ways to reduce the introduction to and the spread of COVID-19 in schools. When a staff, student or other adult can return to school depends on the type of symptoms they experienced and if a COVID-19 test is recommended. More information can be found on the BCCDC website and in the BCCDC document “Provincial COVID-19 Health Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings” Updated February 4th, 2021.
- Students and staff who experience symptoms consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition (e.g. seasonal allergies) can continue to attend school when they are experiencing these symptoms as normal.
- Students and staff may still attend school if a member of their household develops new symptoms of illness, provided the student/staff has no symptoms themselves.
- If based on their symptoms a test was not recommended, the person can return to school when their symptoms improve, and they feel well enough.
- If based on their symptoms a test is recommended, the person must stay home until they receive their test results.
- If the test is negative, they can return to school when symptoms improve, and they feel well.
- If the test is positive, they must follow direction from public health on when they can return to school.
- Staff and families at St. Bernadette’s are encouraged to call 8-1-1 or their health care provider if they need further guidance.
TRAUMA INFORMED PRACTICE AND SOCIO-EMOTIONAL LEARNING – Key updates
- Staff are to provide inclusive and compassionate learning environments
- Staff are to provide modelling and lead students in practicing coping strategies
- The school will use non-adversarial discipline (avoiding punitive and stigmatizing measures)
- Staff will help to minimize additional stress or trauma by addressing individual student needs
- Staff will engage in self-awareness practices to understand their own levels of trauma and that trauma is everywhere in our community
- The school will build an understanding that executive functioning skills are compromised; work within the framework that these skills will not be preforming at peak levels and these behaviours are a deficit of the following skills:
- Emotional self-regulation
- Organizing, planning and prioritizing
- Starting tasks and staying focused
- Understanding different points of view
This is a collection of some of the key updates and not all updates are list above. We encourage families to read the school’s Health and Safety Plans in full on our school webpage www.stbernadetteschool.ca/covid-19/
Thursday February 4th, 2021
RE: New Health and Safety Updates
Today the Ministry of Education presented new updates to our health and safety guidelines for K-12 schools. The updates mainly address masks in schools, and the management of activities in physical education and music classes. It is noted that very little has changed for elementary schools. Under these new updates, St. Bernadette’s will continue to foster a culture of mask wearing and encourage all students to wear a mask when indoors. The new updates give new guidance on how physical education is delivered. Starting Monday February 8th, all high intensity activities will be done outdoors when possible. Students will be encouraged to wear a mask when participating in activities in the gymnasium.
I am very pleased with the cooperation and support we are receiving from students and families. We are fortunate to have a very united and committed community of parents and students who understand the benefits and importance of following the directives from the PHO as we move through this pandemic together. I ask that we continue to show each other kindness and understanding whenever we are on school property. This includes wearing a mask while on-site, not gathering with other parents (especially on the parish side of the school) and arriving/picking up on time.
The BCCDC, and the Minister of Education have reinforced that in addition to wearing masks, physical distancing, improved ventilation and other safety measures, when a child is not well, even if they are showing the mildest of symptoms, they must stay home. The government has issued a new website and app to help families with their daily health checks. If you are unsure if your child should attend school or not, please complete the K-12 health check at:
St. Bernadette’s will continue to make our students’ health and safety a priority, foster healthy and meaningful relationships between peers and between the students and the staff, and promote a trauma informed practice. In a time when field trips, sports, special events and other exciting moments for children have been reduced, cancelled or postponed, I have seen great moments of joy and excitement in our school. As teachers we are privileged to witness children entering into our building each day ready to learn and excited to be here with their friends. We are very blessed and whatever the future sends our way, we will address it, work through it, and support each other as a community of love, acceptance and understanding.
Yours in Christ,
Michael van der Pauw
Dear St. Bernadette Parents,
We have made it to the end of the 2019/2020 school year!
This year brought us many accomplishments as a community; as well it brought us – and the rest of the world around us – perhaps more than our fair share of challenges. Through it all our solidarity with one another remained – and even shone brighter in our times of most need. While we began in September with so much promise and the new year saw us gain momentum in our plans as a school community, our school year did not end with “business as usual”. As such, I would like to share with you where we are at in some key areas, as follows –
At the start of the 2019/2020 school year, we had set a fundraising goal of $30,000. As a PEC we planned to use our fundraising proceeds in the areas of School Technology and Athletics (specifically for safety padding in the gym), and to purchase a new portable PA/sound system to replace our current one that is already breaking down and becoming increasingly unreliable in our school events. In October, the Parent Support Group (PSG) generously sponsored the purchase of the safety padding in the gym from their own funds. We were on track with our fundraising and preparing to launch our biggest fundraiser of the year – our Walkathon – upon our return from spring break but as you know, schools did not reopen and all fundraising was halted for the year. In the end, we raised just under $11,000 (about one-third of our fundraising goal) from the Fall Social, Fall Clothing Drive, Christmas Purdy’s/Gift Cards, Lights of Hope, Family Bingo Night and Family Movie Night. Our remaining fundraising events would have been the Walkathon, Spring Clothing Drive and Year End BBQ. With the amount we raised we were able to purchase new Chromebooks, which helps augment our technological resources as we prepare for what school might look like in September 2020. The PEC has deferred the remaining funds (about $2,000) to next year, still for the purchase of a much-needed new portable PA system.
Looking ahead, we are hoping to hold a Clothing Drive over the summer, provided health/safety restrictions will allow it and If we are able to make the necessary arrangements. Any further information on this will be shared on our school’s social media channels, so please keep an eye out for that. We do not know yet how exactly our children will be returning to school in the fall, but the PEC will determine closer to that time if we are able to hold any other fundraising events in a manner that will comply with the health authority measures in place, and ensure everyone’s safety.
School Building, Facilities and Grounds
This year we were able to improve safety in a few areas around the school. As mentioned, the PSG helped the school in the purchasing of the safety padding in the gym. As well, we made long-overdue improvements in our landscaping particularly in the playground area. This not only helps minimize possible injuries from the branches of dead/dried up bushes and eroded soil, it also allows our staff/parents to have proper sightlines during playground supervision – to see children on the top field, in the playground, and in the basketball area. This is a safety requirement that needed to be addressed and we are happy we were able to do it this year. Watering, weeding and other related maintenance work to care for our new landscaping will be done by parent volunteers over the summer. We are not yet able to confirm if there will be Work Bees taking place over the summer, but should there be any, information will be sent out via the OnVolunteers portal.
Inside the school, we completed a much needed replacement of all our window coverings, to cordless blinds in all classrooms, offices and the Learning Commons. All window blinds are now in proper working order; as well, having no cords hanging with reach removes yet another risk to students, particularly in the primary classrooms. There are still a few other areas inside the school that need non-safety related improvement, but we will wait until the required seismic upgrades are completed so as not to double up on any work/cost. Preparations for the major construction work needed in our school building are still underway, and updates will be provided as they become available.
As you may remember from previous years, a number of PEC positions can become vacant at the end of each school year.
Elections/appointments for vacant PEC positions usually take place in May and new committee roles are assigned in June for the coming school year. This year, due to the school disruptions caused by the pandemic, the CISVA Board of Directors has postponed the PEC elections to the fall and all current PEC members have been asked stay on the committee until at least September, tentatively. We are still awaiting further instructions on the recruitment and election/appointment of new PEC members and we will communicate the new guidelines when we receive them. In the meantime, if you have an interest or any questions about joining the PEC, please feel free to reach out to myself or any of the current members of the PEC. We will be taking a break from our regular meetings in July, but will resume in the third week of August.
Parent ParticipationIn March, the PEC voted to suspend the Parent Participation program and forgive all remaining unserved participation hours. Parent Participation cheques were not cashed on June 15, regardless of how many hours you had completed when the school closure took effect. Moving forward, we will assume the mindset that the school will reopen as scheduled in September and that the Parent Participation program will resume as normal. As such, all families will be receiving their task group assignments for the 2020/2021 school year from our Parent Participation Coordinator shortly. If any adjustments need to be made to your particular task come fall due to whatever the circumstances may be then, those will be addressed and considered at that time.
Indeed, many Thank You’s are in order because while I have only mentioned a few highlights above, we know it has taken all of our collective effort to achieve all the successes we did this year, and to weather the challenge that has been the last three months.
We thank Father Paul and Mr. Van der Pauw, for their great leadership of our parish and school, respectively. The strength of our community starts with the collaborative relationship between our parish and school leaders, and that filters down to all our parish and school groups that truly support each other in our every endeavour. From the Knights of Columbus bringing us on board their Casino Night to coincide with our Fall Social, to our school families’ generous response to an impromptu food drive to replenish the cupboards of St. Vincent de Paul at the height of the pandemic – and everything in between – we are blessed to be in such a caring community.
We thank our teachers and staff for all their hard work, dedication and love for our children. You were amazing the whole year through, but also thank you for not backing down from the challenge of imparting knowledge and skills to your students even in ways you may have not done before – and doing it with such kindness and patience.
We thank you, parents, for your presence and participation all year – in all our fundraising and school events, in your day-to-day volunteer tasks around the school, with our very much unplanned ‘Spring Video Tribute Series’, and most of all, for your huge role in your children completing Term 3 entirely from home! Thank you for your invaluable support and your friendship.
In a special way we thank our Class Representatives who have helped us so much, especially these last few months, when effective and timely communication has been so important. Even without the requirement to complete any more participation hours, they readily continued to help our teachers with sending out class-related instructions, as well as information from the Principal and the PEC. I would also like to extend this gratitude to the members of the PEC who have continued to take part in planning, critical decision-making and continued community building as the school responded to the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. What a blessing it is to get to do this work alongside all of you!
Finally, and most importantly, a salute to our children, who have shown so much courage and resilience this year. It must not have been easy at times; the situation after spring break asked a lot of you without allowing you much preparation, and yet you did it! Thank you for giving us your best everyday.
As our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, often reminds us, this crisis is not over yet. We truly don’t know what the future holds but I take comfort in knowing we will get through it as a strong, supportive and loving community. I wish you and your families a summer like no other – one that is safe, healthy and full of memories we won’t soon forget. Take care and see you all again soon!
Sincerely, on behalf of your PEC,
Cristina Ricafort | PEC Chair
St. Bernadette Elementary School
13130 65B Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 9M1