Time for Thanksgiving

Posted On Tuesday October 12, 2021

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

Thank you for your dedication to helping our children focus on learning and making their health and safety our top priority. Due to the several announcements shared by the Ministries of Health and Education this past week, my update will be about what our district is doing to implement the Provincial Health Officer’s orders and Interior Health guidelines.

On October 1, 2021, the Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia announced that rising COVID-19 case numbers in some regions of British Columbia, including Kamloops-Thompson, resulted in making masks mandatory for K-12 students. This additional layer of protection is part of routine health and safety protocols in our district:

  • Completing daily health checks
  • Staying home when sick
  • Wearing masks indoors and on busses
  • Washing hands and using hand sanitizer
  • Covering our mouths when we cough
  • Keeping respectful personal distances
  • Using specific entrances and exits
  • Limiting visitors to schools
  • Staying within gathering guidelines and limiting congestion within small spaces such as hallways
  • Using recommended HVAC filters and air flow procedures
  • Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting in all areas

The number of potential exposures to COVID-19 in our schools has been posted on Interior Health’s website. School District staff continue to rely on Interior Health’s reporting of potential exposures rather than sharing information about cases in the community that may not be confirmed by Interior Health. We rely on Interior Health only for the following reasons:

  • As per Public Health guidelines, not all school cases are infectious at school, so advising about these has no benefit to the school community.
  • Public Health has the expertise to do the exposure assessment and will post on their website when the assessment is complete.
  • Further notification beyond what Public Health provides can be harmful, promote rumours, and breach privacy of individuals.

Interior Health’s contact tracing confirms that the greatest risk of transmission is during activities taking place outside of school. The Ministry of Education has updated the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings with this change in measures for schools, and we have updated our District Communicable Disease Prevention Plan. While we have learned a lot over the last 18 months about keeping our children safe, Dr. Henry emphasized that it is immunization of those who are eligible that will offer the greatest protection for our children who are too young to be vaccinated. We continue to encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated.

While media announcements have been made about mandatory staff vaccinations for public service employees, boards of education are not part of this public sector decision. Each board of education is the employer for their own employee groups. Therefore, individual boards of education will need to make this decision based on provincial direction and local stakeholder information. Our Board of Education will make a decision based on information forthcoming from a provincial advisory committee that has been established and based on consultation with our local employee stakeholders, and any other factors that arise as the Board of Education examines this issue. We will keep everyone informed in a timely way.

Thank you for continuing to support each and learn together. Although the pandemic has been a challenge, we have so much to be grateful for as we begin our Thanksgiving weekend. We have our families and friends and time to take care of each other this long weekend.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD

Superintendent

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