Communicable Disease Prevention Plan

Students

Parents are important partners in keeping our schools safe, so we appreciate your questions. This is a collection of the questions and answers that have come forward. As Interior Health/Public Health Orders or K-12 recommendations change, we will revise our responses.  We will also add to these questions as the community shares them with us.

In addition, each school has developed a site-specific Communicable Disease Prevention Plan related to their contexts which will be posted to school websites. If you have a question about your school’s measures, please reach out to your school principal.

For questions about SD73’s District Communicable Disease Prevention Plan, email us at Return to School FAQ.


Frequently Asked Questions


TESTING POSITIVE AND SELF-ISOLATION

I am a parent who has tested positive. Does my child need to self-isolate as well?
Any students who are living with an adult/youth who has tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to self-isolate and can return to school. This holds true for adults as well, regardless of vaccination status. 
If I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am managing my illness at home, when can I end my isolation?

Isolation can end when all three of these conditions are met (provided you are fully vaccinated or less than 18 years of age - either vaccinated and unvaccinated): 

  1. At least 5 days have passed since your symptoms started, or from test date if you did not have symptoms. 
  2. Fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. 
  3. Symptoms have improved. 
What do I do if I have mild symptoms and testing is not recommended?

Mild symptoms are symptoms that can be managed at home. The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends you: 

  1. Stay home until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities. 
  2. *If no test, there is no five-day isolation period required, although you could stay home at least five days depending on your symptoms. 
If I am a close contact to someone who has tested positive, do I need to isolate?
At this time, close contacts do not need to self-isolate. You should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 even if you are fully vaccinated or had COVID-19 in the last 90 days. If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test.

GENERAL

Are sports tournaments still permitted?
All extracurricular sports tournaments are currently on hold. Sports tournaments are defined as a single or multi-day gathering of three or more sports teams, who come together outside regular league play for the purpose of teams playing against multiple other teams. This does not include a gathering where team members compete on an individual basis against members of another team or, a gathering where the result will decide if a team will advance to play in a national or international competition. Furthermore, at this time, spectators are not permitted within schools.
 How will school gatherings proceed?
School gatherings and events are to be held virtually (e.g. assemblies, etc.). If they must be in-person, limit the number of people to no more than 50% operating capacity. At this time, no spectators or audience members are allowed at any school events or gatherings.

MASK WEARING

Does the mask mandate mean students have to wear masks inside the school as well as outside on the playground?
Students are not required to wear masks outdoors, they are required to wear masks inside schools and on school buses.
Why can’t SD73 develop its own guidelines and let students attend school without masks? 
The requirement for all students in K – 12 to wear masks is a Provincial Health Order and school districts have a legal obligation to ensure students, staff and visitors wear masks inside schools.
Does wearing masks for students dehumanize education? 

No. Almost all of our Grade 4-7 students have been successfully socializing and learning for almost two years now. Since K-3 students were also mandated to wear masks in October 2021, many of those children are already adept at learning and socializing in masks.

How are you going to ensure the masks are not scary for the younger students?
School staff support our younger students and mask wearing. Teachers spend time educating the students that masks are health tools, not toys and how to wear masks safely. We are going to spend time building up tolerance for mask wearing for those students who do find it more challenging to wear them all the time to begin with.
Can my child wear a face shield instead of a mask? 
No. Children can wear both but a face shield cannot take the place of a mask. 
Can my child take a break during the day from mask wearing?
Yes. Especially as our younger learners learn to wear masks safely and build up their ability to do so without playing with their mask, teachers will be working with them to support breaks when needed. And children will have a break when they are outside. 
Will my child be made fun of if he/she does or doesn’t wear a mask? 
Like last year, our schools are committed to creating a positive mask culture in which our students feel safe to learn. We recognize that mask wearing is a family decision not a student one. At no time, whether it is specific to mask wearing or not, do we accept mean or teasing behaviour.
Is my child with asthma, who cannot tolerate a mask, required to wear one at school?  
No. Some students may not tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioral reasons. While non-medical masks have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by providing some protection to the wearer and to those around them, masks are only one layer of protection.
Do students and staff have the ability to remove their masks while in class?

Grades K-12 students, all staff and visitors are required to wear masks in all indoor spaces and on buses.  Mask requirements do not apply to staff, students, and visitors in the following circumstances: 

  • to a person who cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioral reasons;
  • to a person who is unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
  • if the mask is removed temporarily for the purposes of identifying the person wearing it;
  • if the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (e.g. playing a wind instrument, engaging in high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
  • if a person is eating or drinking;
  • if a person is behind a barrier; or
  • while providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (including but not limited to a hearing impairment) where visual cues, facial expressions and/or lip reading/movements are important. 

VACCINATION CLINICS IN SCHOOLS

Why are Interior Health vaccination clinics hosted in schools? 
School Boards are legislated to provide health services and other support services in accordance with any orders or requirements of the Minister of Education. SD73 has worked with the Interior Health Public Health Nurse Manager and Vaccination Coordinator to prepare to host vaccination clinics in SD73’s secondary schools.
Who can attend vaccination clinics in schools? 
Interior Health’s in-school clinics will provide access to COVID-19 vaccine for eligible students 12 years and older, teachers, staff, and community family members.
Can I get a vaccination with my child at their school’s vaccination clinic? 
Yes, clinics are open to school community family members for first or second vaccine doses. 
Will my son or daughter be forced to have a COVID 19 vaccine at the school? 
No, students will not be forced to have a vaccine. Parents will receive communication from Interior Health through the school about the process of informing parents and students about vaccinations in the clinic.
Does my child need my (parental) consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccination? 

A child under the age of 19 is called a “minor”. “Mature minor consent” is the consent a child gives to receive health care after the child has been assessed by a health care provider as having the necessary understanding to give the consent. A child who is assessed by a healthcare provider as being capable to give consent is called a "mature minor." A child who is a mature minor may make their own health care decisions independent of their parents' or guardians' wishes. In B.C. there is no set age when a child is considered capable to give consent.

A health care provider can accept consent from the child and provide health care that is in the child's best interests without getting consent from the parent or guardian if the health care provider is sure that the child understands:

  • The need for the health care
  • What the health care involves and
  • The benefits and risks of the health care
Where can I read more about mature minor consent?

The Infants Act explains the legal position of children under 19 years of age. One of the topics covered in the Infants Act is the health care of children. The Infants Act states that children may consent to a medical treatment on their own as long as the health care provider is sure that the treatment is in the child's best interest, and that the child understands the details of the treatment, including risks and benefits. It is up to the health care provider to assess and ensure the child's understanding of the treatment.

For more information on the Infants Act, visit:

www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96223_01


OTHER

Is it ok to hand out our belief statements on school grounds? 
No. Although we recognize all parents are allowed their own opinions, schools and their grounds are publicly funded for the primary purpose of educating students. Principals are responsible for the safety of students and staff and to optimize learning. Illegitimate business or solicitation at any time is unauthorized and may be considered an act of trespass on school property.
Can I pull my child and homeschool them?
Yes. There are still other avenues available for your child and their learning. Please understand that this year is different than last year and if you pull your child, you will have to re-register if you choose to come back later this year or next year.

SCHOOL CLOSURES/HIGH ABSENTEEISM

What is the difference between a partial closure and a full functional closure?

A partial closure is when one or more classes within a school are dismissed. In the case of COVID-19 and specifically, the emergence of the Omicron variant, a partial closure could result due to a high rate of staff and student absences within a particular class.

A full functional closure is when the entire school is sent home. Aside from high absenteeism, other occurrences that could result in a functional closure of a school are snow days, power outages, or water line breaks.

What happens if there is unusually high absenteeism within my child’s class?

Hybrid Learning, a mix of face-to-face and online materials and programming, will begin. For more information on exactly how that will work, please consult the District’s Continuity of Learning Plan.

COMMUNICABLE DISEASE PROTOCOL

What will the cleaning in schools look like? Will there be janitorial staff present to clean and sanitize all day? How often will high touch surfaces be cleaned? 

Additional custodian time was added to school daytime schedules last year and will continue this year to ensure that high touch surfaces are cleaned. General cleaning of the premises, and cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, is completed at least once in a 24-hour period. Examples of frequently touched surfaces include:

  • doorknobs, light switches, hand railings, water fountains, faucet handles, toilet handles
  • shared equipment (e.g. computer keyboards and tablets, glassware and testing equipment for science labs, kitchen equipment for culinary programs, sewing machines and sewing equipment for home economic programs, PE/sports equipment, music equipment, etc.).

Your school principal is in the best position to provide further details about the cleaning in your child's school. 

What measures are being put in place to ensure students keep a safe distance from each other?
Although Public Health no longer recommends learning groups and physical distancing of two meters as communicable disease measures for the K-12 setting, there are a number of strategies that schools are implementing to help mitigate risks and follow enhanced safety measures such as: the reconfiguration of classrooms to maximize the amount of personal space available; reducing overcrowding at pick-up and drop-off times; staggering recess/snack/lunch and class transition times; and managing the flow of people in common areas by using directional floor markings and posters. 
What will be done to support children and families who will be anxious about COVID-19 with the lack of protocols? 
The best way is to continue to ensure that schools are controlled environments, and to help parents with good information about what the protocols are and how to work together to maintain them. We have also posted many mental health resources on our website for parents to access. This year we are also planning virtual parent/caregiver engagement sessions focusing on supporting children with their social-emotional needs that will take place in the evenings. Please watch for information on our website and through your child’s school. Parents who think their child would benefit from additional support should contact their school principal.
Has the ventilation in each school been updated?  

All schools have been reworked to better improve air flow and filtration by adjusting our ventilation systems and installing new high efficiency filters.  The district’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards.

Expert guidance was 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.


CONTACT TRACING AND COMMUNICATION

Is public health still doing contact tracing? 
The emergence of the more transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 has necessitated changes in public health management. With higher levels of community transmission, a shorter virus incubation period, and the increased use of rapid antigen testing, contact tracing and close contact notification by public health is no longer effective to minimize spread of COVID-19. Public health has transitioned to individual self-management (i.e., individuals care for themselves, engaging with health care providers when needed), with public health focused on identifying and responding to larger clusters and outbreaks. Individuals who test positive are to notify those they live with or have had intimate contact with.
Will I be notified when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community? 
No. Recent public health guidance recommends those who test positive for COVID-19 notify those whom they live with or who they’ve had intimate contact with. They do not need to notify the school or others at school. Going forward, schools will be monitoring their attendance to determine if a public health-determined threshold for a grade or school has been met. If met, schools will send a notification to the school community indicating the threshold has been met and that they are following up with public health for further investigation.
Will our principal/teacher inform me if there is a COVID case at our school? 
No. As per above. 

PARENT RESOURCES

 Virtual Town Hall - Keeping Schools Safe - February 11, 2021
We have posted links to the Keeping Schools Safe - FAQs. You will find the virtual Town Hall session with Interior Health, and the media Zoom Q&A following the session.
 Ministry of Education - COVID-19 Resources for Parents 

Educational Videos with Questions from Kids:

Classroom Learning Activities:

The Ministry of Education has posted Keep Learning - a resource for families with ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources. There is information about how to help children learn and ensure their wellbeing while they’re at home. Even so, the ministry reminds us that teachers and schools still have primary responsibility for continuous learning.

 Sesame Street - Healthy Habits with Grover PSA Video

Ventilation Systems: Documentation for Each School

Our Facilities team has been working exceptionally hard to make sure our schools are as safe as possible. There are many layers of protocols and practices that are working together and one of the measures we have in place is our ventilation systems.  The systems are being kept in good working order, to help increase the amount of clean air entering our schools and classrooms and to maximize the systems at each site. Here are completed overviews of the systems at each  Kamloops-Thompson school:


Education Re-start Plan Stage 2 Archives

Education Re-start Plan Stage 2 Archive information can be found here.
Information posted from September 2020 to June 2021


Stage 3 Hybrid Archives

Stage 3 Hybrid Archive information can be found here.
Information posted from March 2020 to August 2020

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