COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing & Return to School
K-12 Education Update – January 2022
On December 29 there was a detailed briefing by the PHO, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education. See the recorded session. We encourage you to review the briefing. We also encourage families to review the regularly updated data and useful information posted by the BCCDC on their Dashboard.
The Steering Committee, which includes BCCDC, PHO and Ministry of Education staff with education partners, including BCCPAC, met on Dec 16, Dec 21, Dec 27 and Dec 29. President Sinclair also participated in the meeting with Board Chairs and the BCCDC. Please be aware, as you will see varying messages on social media, a draft document was confidentially shared regarding the additional measures with all education partners on Fri Dec 24; the Minister spoke to President Sinclair (and other partner presidents) on Tues Dec 28 regarding delayed start announcement.
The Ministry of Education has been directed by an Order from the PHO to proceed with a phased approach for return to school which will allow public health time to assess the impact of Omicron in our communities AND on education, and K-12 more time to prepare for the safe return to class with enhanced safety measures. Schools will proactively implement continuity of learning plans. Schools will be open the week of Jan 3-7 for all staff and for children of healthcare workers, children of teachers and for students who have support needs and/or require care and/or have diverse learning needs. Families should contact their school principal to make arrangements. Districts will be communicating out to families about how this process will work. Districts that operate child care are encouraged to keep them open next week to support families that need care. All other students will return to school and in-class learning on Jan 10; there will not be school or online learning for this group from Jan 3-7. Please review all the details.
Schools continue to be a structured and safe environment as they have been throughout the pandemic; it’s the unstructured situations of home and community which are where the transmission is occurring. The return start of school “is not being delayed because school is not safe – it’s to ensure our healthcare system has time to pivot and plan and to address absenteeism and continuity and recognizes the uncertainty at this time”. “The goal is to minimize disruption to students and families and support school communities. The delay will not be extended.”
- “schools are safe and will continue to deliver in-class learning”
- “schools are community hubs, provide services to students – we will keep students learning in-person for the remainder of the school year”
- “the phased approach for return to school will allow public health time to assess the impact of Omicron in our communities AND on education and K-12 more time to prepare for safe return to class with enhanced safety measures. Schools will proactively implement continuity of learning plans. Schools will be open the week of Jan 3-7 for all staff and for children of healthcare workers, of teachers and for students who have support needs and require care and diverse learning needs. Families must contact their school principal to make arrangements.”
- “Ministry continues working closely with BCCDC and education partners regarding an Addendum to the current K-12 Guidelines created based on CDC recommendations and will continue to do so as needed based on BCCDC”
- “schools must reinforce existing measures and new enhanced measures”
- “we know families depend on schools being open – taking a few days now, we are setting up for the remainder of the school year”
- “MoE will continue to provide 3ply masks as they have been”
Key Messages from Dr Henry:
- “People getting more infected with a smaller dose of the virus and more quickly”
- “virus is increasingly transmissible”
- “incubation period is fast – now down to median of 3 days from 6 days with previous variants – by the time you get your results or a notification, you will have passed it on to others”
- “as a result we all need to be paying close attention to how we are feeling and who we are spending time with”
- “those unvaccinated are 10x more likely to be re-infected
- “those with 2 vaccination doses – regardless of when received – are more likely to have milder illness or asymptomatic illness”
- “if you have any C19 symptoms, assume you have it and take all the necessary precautions and measures – self manage and self isolate – if symptoms worsen, seek medical assistance”
- “rapid testing we have available now is being used to supplement those at highest risk at testing centers
- “booster doses are additional protection to those who are at highest risk (age being the #1 risk factor)”
- “the majority of cases and positivity rates are due to Omicron”
- “we cannot stop the spread but we can flatten it out and mitigate the increased demand on the healthcare system”
- “we are not going to prevent this wave – we continue to mitigate it the best we can”
- “we know people will become ill even with all the efforts to mitigate and all the layers of protection”
- “vaccine makes a difference and prevents infection and severe illness”
- “boosters are done by age and risk – as teachers were prioritized for dose 1&2, they will come up sooner for their booster shots”
- “we will modify public health notification process and changes to contact tracing”
Ventilation in Schools
School districts must ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards. Expert guidance is being applied using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Reopening of Schools and Universities Guidelines to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of virus transmission.
School Ventilation Updates or Replacements:
The province is investing $77.5 million to upgrade or replace school HVAC systems through 2021/2022. These upgrades include: Full boiler and air-handling system replacements, Upgrades to fan coil systems, Filter racks to accommodate larger filters, Larger ductwork, Updating occupancy sensors along with direct digital control units for building automation controlling air-flow rates. During the 2020/2021 school year, $10 million in federal funding was used to: Update HVAC systems to increase air exchange in 44 of 60 school districts, purchase more than 45,000 ventilation filters, and update filters to MERV-13 filters in 24 of 60 school districts. For more information on ventilation in schools, see the HVAC Survey Report.
On Dec 21, the PHO provided another detailed briefing and we encourage you to review the recording. We encourage you to review the PPT presentation with details on Omicron (slide 8, new restrictions, rapid testing (slide 12) and an increase in the booster campaign.
Strengthened C19 Measures
The PHO implemented additional measures to address rising C19 case counts that could result in increased hospitalizations and critical care admissions and the potential to overstress the health-care system. Revised provincial health officer orders are in effect from Dec 22 through to Jan 18 and include: no organized indoor social events and gatherings of any size; concerts, sports games and theatres reduced to 50% seated capacity, regardless of venue size; closing gyms, fitness centres and dance studios; closing bars and nightclubs; and limiting table sizes at restaurants, cafes and pubs to a maximum of six people per table with physical distancing or barriers.
These restrictions are in addition to the revised orders that took effect on Mon Dec. 20. Read full details on the restrictions.
Monthly School Situation Report
As announced by Dr. Henry on December 21, the third monthly K-12 School Situation Report is now available from BCCDC. The purpose of this report is to provide a situational update on COVID-19 in BC K-12 schools since the start of the 2021-2022 school year. This document will be issued monthly and contains information on vaccination, cases and testing, severe outcomes, public notifications of potential exposures, regional analysis, and data sources and notes. We encourage families to read and review the document.
K-12 Education Update – September 21st
Today Dr Henry, PHO and Minister Dix, Minister of Health provided an update.
The provincial steering committee will be discussing the K-12 elements at the next meeting on Thursday. Please read the points below so you have the facts.
The recorded announcement is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDC752q-N7s
Direct Comments from Dr. Henry re K-12 specifically:
-“We know Pfizer studies in children 6-11 are in phase 3 studies and we know a data package is coming to Health Canada in the next few weeks. There may be manufacturing delays, but we are preparing to offer it ASAP in BC as soon as we are able”
-“The fundamentals of case management contact tracing remain in place as a pillar of our pandemic management strategy. Every new case must continue to self-isolate, and every exposure is investigated” (this is unchanged)
-“Public Health teams are scaling up again to make sure we can find every case, including those in high-risk settings.”
-“This year is different as we have vaccinations” (about 13% of BC are unvaccinated at this time)
-“The risk of spread to/from someone who is immunized is much lower. So vaccinated contacts no longer need to self-isolate but must self-monitor and get tested (this is a change)”
-“If your child has C19 or has been exposed to someone with C19 in the school system, you will of course be notified” (this remains unchanged).
-“Initially it was my understanding there was a level anxiety around giving broad school notifications last year. But we are hearing from parents and staff that parents need an authoritative source to have an understanding of what is happening at their school. We have heard that.”
-“We have asked our team to ensure we can notify schools in a timely, less intrusive and more sustainable way. Parents will have access to that information rapidly. We hope to have that in place by the end of the week.”
A Reminder re Gatherings & Events
School extracurricular and social gatherings and events (including those occurring within and between schools) should occur in line with those permitted as per relevant local, regional, provincial and federal public health recommendationsand Orders. Gatherings and events requiring international travel (e.g., between Canada and the United States) should occur in line with those permitted as per relevant local, regional, Provincial, and Federal public health recommendations and Orders for international travel and community gatherings and events. Read the full Health and Safety document: https://bccpac.bc.ca/…/BCCDC-Guidance-k-12-schools…
PACs and Parent Visitors
Schools will continue to ensure visitors follow the school’s communicable disease plan, including completing a daily health check and not entering the school if they are sick. Schools will continue to keep a list of the date, names, andcontact information of all visitors who enter the school for 45 days following their visit. Read the full Health and Safety document: https://bccpac.bc.ca/…/BCCDC-Guidance-k-12-schools…
Additional Measures in Interior Health Authority
As outlined in the Provincial C19 Communicable Disease Guidelines, local Medical Health Officers continue to be able to implement additional health and safety measures beyond the baseline guidance during times of increased community transmission. Superintendents within the Interior Health Authority have received a letter regarding additional regional health measures and are asked to share with their school communities. These recommended additional measures will be implemented starting September 7: – Indoor assemblies limited to 50 people or 2 classes (whatever is larger), in a single space- Visitors entering schools should be limited to those supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and well-being (e.g., immunizers, teacher candidates, meal program volunteers, etc.). – Extracurricular school sports should follow the Interior Health Order for Gatherings & Events, where sports and tournaments are allowed. – Spectators should be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
BCCDC Data and Public Information
Much information is publicly available and can inform and provide clarity and understanding.
We encourage families to review the Dashboard which is updated every 1-2 days: http://www.bccdc.ca/…/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data…
Equally important are the weekly data summaries which are updated every Tuesday. The current one is to Aug 26: http://www.bccdc.ca/…/COVID…/2021-08-26_Data_Summary.pdf–
On this page, please read the Vaccination Progress tab and filter to see progress: https://public.tableau.com/…/BCCDCCOVID…/Introduction
There is now – as a result of a request from the Steering Committee – the ability to filter on 12-17 year olds, both first and second dose. We post all documents and our communication updates on our resources page: https://bccpac.bc.ca/…/21-advocacy/1030-c19-updates-2-
Student Impacts Research Report
The Ministry released a research report examining the evidence of impacts to student learning resulting from the pandemic. The report incorporates a review of published literature, a jurisdictional scan, and multiple sources of provincial data including summative data from the 2019/20 school year, and documenting enrolment trends, transition and attendance patterns, and delivery of education in the 2020/21 school year, as of February 2021. Research is continuing. See the main findings on page 5. Read the full document: https://bccpac.bc.ca/…/student-impacts-report-Aug2021.pdf
September Membership Newsletter
Return to School – Important Information
On August 24, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that K-12 students will return to school for full time, in-person instruction in September. We have posted all documents on our resources page. We emailed members on August 25 and posted to Facebook.
We strongly encourage you to review and read the key documents:
1) Return to School Recovery Plan (Please note there are no stages in the K-12 plan);
2) Health & Safety Guidelines;
3) BCCDC Guidance; and
4) Protocols for Administrators which includes info on exposures, notices, communication.
Masks will continue to be required in all indoor spaces (including desks) for all K-12 staff, visitors (including parents and PACs) and students in Grades 4 to 12 in schools and on school buses. There are exceptions to the mask policy. Cohorts and strict physical distancing is no longer required. School districts must ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards. General cleaning of schools, cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces will be conducted at least once in every 24-hour period and when visibly dirty.
Understanding Cases among School-aged Children & Staff
Fraser Public Health examined (which included genome sequencing) cases of C19 reported between Jan-Jun 2021 to better understand the extent and nature of in-school transmission of the virus in Surrey schools. Surrey district (public, francophone and independent) represented 40% of all cases during that time period. The review found that, overall, 90% of school-associated C19 cases in Surrey originated in households or the community, NOT in schools. And broad school closures (i.e. breaks) do not affect community transmission. Current international research and literature confirms the same. We encourage families to read and review the report (additionally, please review slides 8-10, 27).
Student Impacts Report
The Ministry has released a research report examining the evidence of impacts to student learning resulting from the pandemic. The report incorporates a review of published literature, a jurisdictional scan, and multiple sources of provincial data including summative data from the 2019/20 school year, and documenting enrolment trends, transition and attendance patterns, and delivery of education in the 2020/21 school year, as of February 2021. Research is continuing. See the main findings on page 5.
Mental Health in Schools and Recovery Plan Grants
Grant letters and information packages were sent to school districts on August 25, with funds to be transferred on August 31. These grants represent the one-time $5 million C19 Recovery Plan funding announced on June 17, 2021 and the final year of the 3-year Early Action Initiative funding announced by the province in September 2019. These funds are intended to support mental health and well-being promotion and supports. School districts are required to complete the Action Plan Questionnaire by December 1, 2021. Parents can read the Principles and Strategies for Mental Health.
BCCDC Data and Public Information
Much information is publicly available and can inform and provide clarity and understanding. The BCCDC website is updated regularly. We encourage families to review their Dashboard which is updated every 1-2 days. Equally important are the weekly data summaries which are updated every Tuesday. The current one is to August 21. We encourage families to view the slides pertaining to case rates and hospitalizations, and slide #19 showing age breakdowns for 0-11 and 12-19. There is a useful Vaccination Progress tab and filter to see progress. There is now – as a result of a request from the Steering Committee – the ability to filter on 12-17 year olds, both first and second dose.
With the return of full-time in-person schooling it’s normal for children and teens to experience heightened back to school stress. Anxiety Canada has great advice for supporting students during this time. Check it out.
Applications for the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association Student Scholarships are open! Know a graduating student that exemplifies academic excellence and community leadership? The BCPVPA awards up to 20 $1000 scholarships to students annually. Download the Application Form. Deadline: September 17/21.
How can parents enable their children to take part in active free play? Listen to Active for Life’s podcast with Dr Maria Brussoni on the value of risky play.
Did you know September 30, Orange Shirt Day, has been officially legislated as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation invites you to celebrate this momentous day. Register today.
Social and emotional development impacts how young children express emotions, deal with stress, develop friendships, and connect to the world around them through stories, conversations and play. Learn more!
Schools should be safe places where students have equal opportunities to learn, grow, and achieve their full potential, and where diversity is celebrated. Learn more about the actions you can take to erase racism from erase bc.
Every big idea starts with a small one. Ingenious+ is a national youth innovation challenge that helps teens’ ideas grow, with mentorship opportunities and cash prizes of up to $10,000! Sign up to get started. Find out more.
Check out this information on drug slang emojis from Bark – What Every Parent Needs to Know.
Did you know translations are available on the BC Human Rights website in 18 languages? Visit their accessible website to check out the new accessibility features and find resources on BC’s human rights system.
Is your child (aged 3-12) struggling with disruptive behaviour problems, like oppositional behaviour (eg. doesn’t comply with requests), or angry outbursts (eg. temper tantrums, physical or verbal aggression)? BC Children’s Hospital invites you to participate in their research study, where you will get to watch a free online presentation to learn practical and effective parenting strategies, and provide feedback. You will also receive up to $15 in Amazon e-gift cards for your time! For more information, email email@example.com
Are you aware of Family Smart? They are here for families. PiRs provide peer support to all families and caregivers parenting a child (0 to 24+) with a mental health and/or substance use challenge in BC. Free service. No wait list. Find out more.
Have you heard about Foundry BC and their new App? The Foundry BC app allows youth and their caregivers to access services using video, audio, or chat options. They want to support you whatever way feels most comfortable for you! Download their new app and get the help you need when you need it! Did you know you can register and participate in groups through the new Foundry BC app? Learn more.
Children as young as 6 can be exposed to inappropriate content online. Help prevent this from happening to your children by closely monitoring the time they spend online and teach them to practice online safety. Learn more.
ScienceUpFirst is a national initiative that works with a collective of independent scientists, researchers, health care experts and science communicators. They share the best available science in creative ways to stop the spread of misinformation. Find out about when children under 12 will be able to receive the C19 vaccine.
COVID-19 Daily Health Check Guide
- Chinese – Simplified
- Chinese – Traditional
TED-Ed Lessons about COVID （Cartoons）
Surrey Teachers ask for mask wearing in classrooms
(English, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tagalog, Hindi, Korean, Spanish, Croatian & Cantonese)
For Kids: Why Do I Have to Wear a Face Mask?
This animated video helps young children understand how face masks can keep them and loved ones safe against the spread of COVID-19 and the proper way to put on and take off a mask. They also learn what else they can do while at school to help prevent the spread of germs.
CDC – How to wear masks and why we wear masks
How to wash your hands/choose hand soap