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 in the past two weeks. 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


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 a year now. Numerous Kindergarten – Grade 3 students have also chosen to wear masks while at school for almost a year as well so many 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.

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


GENERAL


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.

COMMUNICABLE DISEASE PROTOCOL


There is an increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in schools, are students being exposed to the virus while they are in school?  

BC Centre for Disease Control and Interior Health have indicated that most of the COVID cases are coming from homes and social engagements that families are taking part in. Schools remain a controlled environment with health protocols intact as they were last year, including daily health checks for students, staff and visitors, hand washing, encouraging personal space, regular cleaning protocols, and encouraging students to cough/sneeze into their elbows.

Starting mid-month, the BC Centre for Disease Control will issue a monthly report showing how many cases have been detected in schools, and how much transmission is occurring in schools compared to home or the general community.

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. 
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. 

Will all grades mingle before and after school and during lunch, etc.?  
There is no longer a requirement to keep students in isolated cohorts. Students within and across grades can interact during classroom transitions, extracurricular activities, and before and after school. Administrators aim to use layers of protection such as personal spacing, staggering entry and exit times for students, and avoiding clustering or gatherings of students in small spaces.
What happens when a class needs to isolate-- do they go virtual or do they miss school? 
Even though there may be a requirement for a class to isolate, education would continue. The specifics of how the learning proceeds will depend on many factors, including the subject matter, and age group of the class.  In each situation, a continuity of education plan will be developed by the school principal and classroom teacher in consultation with parents.   
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

Interior Health School Exposures


How will I know if my child has been exposed to COVID-19 at school? 
Staff, parents and students will be notified by Interior Health directly if they are confirmed close contacts. Interior Health prioritizes contact tracing of school cases. Confirmed close contacts are determined based on the length of time of exposure and nature of the interaction. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact. Students and staff are only required to self-monitor or self-isolate if directed to do so by Interior Health.
Will I be notified when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community? 
The Interior Health school medical officer will play the lead role in determining if, when and how to communicate out information regarding an exposure to our school community. To protect personal privacy rights, Interior Health will not disclose that a student or staff member tested positive for COVID-19 unless there is reason to believe they may have been infectious when they attended school. In this case, Interior Health will provide only the information required to support effective contact tracing. 
Will our principal/teacher inform me if there is a COVID case at our school? 
Parents will be notified by Interior Health directly if their children are confirmed close contacts. Interior Health prioritizes contact tracing of school cases. Confirmed close contacts are determined based on the length of time of exposure and nature of the interaction. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact. Students and staff are only 
How does contact tracing work in schools? 

Public Health teams, (in our region from Interior Health) work hard to identify and notify all close contacts to help stop the spread of COVID-19. More specific details on contract tracing for schools can be found here


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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