Parent Resource Page

Rekindled Trauma - Former Kamloops Residential School

June 2, 2021 - Here are some useful tips for parents and educators about how to talk to students and children about the recent confirmation of the remains of 215 children found buried at the former Kamloops residential school. Some of what follows is information from the North American Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR), which among other things, is dedicated to preventing and reducing violence and trauma in North America through training, tools and technology. 

We would like parents and guardians to know, too, that along with Sherri Mohoruk, from Safer Schools Together, NACTATR Executive Director J. Kevin Cameron will be a guest at the June 3, 2021 District School Leaders' meeting. 

We will continue to post resources here, as they become available. 

The Unfolding Events at the Former Kamloops Residential School (NACTATR)
This information has been provided by the North American Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR), which among other things, is dedicated to preventing and reducing violence and trauma in North America using training, tools and technology.

“During this time of profound traumatic reliving for Indigenous People in every Nation in Canada surely the rest of us can be still and listen to the cries from the dust and lift up the arms that hang down and steady the gaze of one with a broken heart with the sound of our voices that simply say “I believe you”, “I care” and “I am beginning to see these things more clearly now”.

J. Kevin Cameron, Executive Director, NACTATR

The greatest fear for any victim of abuse is that, if they tell, they will not be believed. The other is that, even if they are believed, no one will care. How immense is it when that feeling has been the lot of an entire people?

It is clear that trauma is stored in the body and very much at the cellular level, including the burdens of intergenerational trauma. The bodies of over two hundred children found in the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation has magnified that burden as the past and much of the unresolved present now converge.

Too many Non-Indigenous Canadians have not applied themselves to understanding the true history of Indigenous People and First Nations upon these lands. Many assume that residential schools were schools. In fact, they did not uphold safe and caring learning environments. Residential schools began the dissolution of the family unit and the confounding of natural law where parents and communities of parents raise a child.  

In a way, every Indigenous person, whether they were in a residential school or not, is a residential school survivor. Why these schools were constructed and what happened within them is symbolic of the intense racism of “that day” and the ongoing systemic racism of “our time”. The true character of a so-called modern nation should be measured in the treatment of their Indigenous people. We cannot all move from this land, but we should be moved by the bright and penetrating light shone upon this crumbling cornerstone of Canadian society.

One of the basest comments made by some is to say to an immigrant to Canada: “go back to where you came from”. This comment often comes from a white citizen who is making the comment with little insight into where they themselves “came from”. Some will say, “well other cultures are racist to us”. It is true that the scourge of racism throughout the world is not limited to whites as the protagonist, but in North America “white is the colour of the canvas that racism is painted upon”.

It is admirable for Canadians to keep the peace in other countries but not while failing to keep the peace and promises in this one. During this time of profound traumatic reliving for Indigenous People in every Nation in Canada surely the rest of us can be still and listen to the cries from the dust and lift up the arms that hang down and steady the gaze of one with a broken heart with the sound of our voices that simply say “I believe you”, “I care” and “I am beginning to see these things more clearly now”.

We must understand that trauma does not necessarily create new dynamics in human systems, it just intensifies already existing symptoms. Therefore, this is not a time for us to seek out the positives in the hope of lessening anyone’s pain, it is a time to be present and to listen. Even for those who have not experienced it, every parent or caregiver should be able to imagine the bitterness of what it may be like to lose a child. But how bitter? Only those who have experienced it can tell.

Our foundation for providing support from a crisis and trauma response perspective should begin by ensuring physically safe environments for emotionally safe connections. Like any grieving family there needs to be a time of coming together. For many Non-Indigenous people, we must sometimes wait to be invited in if we have not yet proven to be an ally. Indigenous individuals and families who do reach out should be willingly wrapped around by all support services (Indigenous and Non-Indigenous) with the goal, as appropriate, to connect them with members of their families and communities.

During traumatic aftermath some people need to talk and others do not. Secure and caring attachments will lower anxiety more than any words. Be ok with intensified emotions that will build over the days to follow. The fields of Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Crisis/Trauma Response are inseparably connected.

From time to time there may be those who lack compassion or insight who may attempt to cause further emotional harm to those who are grieving. As such, local crisis response teams should prepare, as necessary, for “Whole Community” interventions to support Indigenous and Non-Indigenous children, youth and families in processing the many implications and effects of the untold stories of these lost members of the human family.

However, do not expect human weakness among Indigenous Communities at this time. Expect pain, sorrow and a profound sadness but in all my life I have never seen a more powerful and resilient people than members of the First Nations of this land. I stand amazed at the unconquerable spirit of those I have grown to love. Today, be on the right side of history.

J. Kevin Cameron, Executive Director, NACTATR

How to Talk to Your Children About the Unfolding Events at the Former Kamloops Residential School (from NACTATR)
 Dr. Marleen Wong

 Preface

In the 1800s and through the 1900s Indigenous children in North America were taken from their homes and forced to attend boarding schools.  They were punished for speaking their native languages and deliberately stripped of engaging in or even thinking about their spiritual and cultural values and practices.  Even in the face of child labor laws, they were made to work long hours in unpaid manual labor.  Many of the children were badly neglected.  All were emotionally abused if not physically or sexually abused.

Alive today are those who survived the experience of the residential boarding schools.  From first-hand experience, they knew children who did not survive.  The wounds are deep with words such as historical trauma and genocide used to describe what has occurred.

Dr. Maria Brave Heart defines historical trauma as the “cumulative… psychological wounding over the life span and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experience.” She emphasized that we must be especially aware not only of the effects of multigenerational historical trauma but the ways in which each family and tribal community frames the story and meaning of their losses.

For adults, she identifies four components designed to foster healing from trauma and grief:

1) confronting the history;

2) understanding the trauma and its effects;

3) releasing the pain; and

4) transcending the trauma. 

This is a difficult and heart wrenching journey for adults. How can we talk with children about this tragedy?

*Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, PhD (Hunkpapa/Oglala Lakota), Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Native American and Disparities Research at the Center for Rural and Community Behavioral Health, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

 For Our Children Today

In this segment, we draw from the work of multiple expert sources:  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the American Psychological Association, and organizations that educate children about the Holocaust in which six million Jews were exterminated because of hate, bigotry and unrelenting political scapegoating and condemnation.  You may recognize common elements. However, we are organizing them to align with what we know about prevention, intervention and resilience research in child trauma, brain science and the healing power of meaningful connections and conversations between caring adults and children.

Take a moment. Take a deep breath.Take stock of your own emotions before talking about the Kamloops tragedy with your child.The purpose of your conversation is to understand and to address your child’s concerns. Your child needs you to be calm and to reassure them that their safety is of greatest important to you. 

Listen to your child’s fears, questions, worries to understand what they are thinking or feeling without criticism or judgment.

You can say something to Protect them If they ask, “How did the children die or Why did this happen?” for example, they may be wondering “Might this happen to us?” A short, honest, and reassuring answer for a young child would be something like, “This happened when children were separated from their parents for no reason except they were First Nations children. They were forced to live in residential schools where they were treated badly.  We don’t allow this to happen anymore. We have laws against it, and leaders who have told us how wrong it was.”

- Connect with them in age appropriate ways. A child in kindergarten or early elementary grades want to know that they and their loved ones are safe. Let them know they can come to you anytime they feel worried or afraid.  

Think together about ways you and your child can reach out and make a difference.You might decide to do a good deed.There may be children in your community who can benefit from kindness and inclusion.

- Model kind and sensitive behavior. Start slowly. In the beginning, keep it brief. Your child will let you know what they are worried about which will change over time as more is known.  We know that hundreds of residential schools will now be subject to the same scrutiny as the former Kamloops Residential School. Even though some of the survivors of Kamloops have said that they were not surprised by the discovery of the child graves, there is more trauma ahead if new discoveries are made about other abuses and losses.

Model tolerance, respect, and civic engagement. The best way to make sure your child grows up to understand the lessons of the history of Indigenous people. Sponsor a family, help out at a food bank, find a way to give back and help make the world a better place for us all. 

In your actions, show that you believe in your child’s resilience. Yes, it is a dangerous world, and there are reasons for fear. But they are not alone and together you can use the lessons of the past to help your child feel empowered by helping to create a world that is safer, kinder, and more loving.

Be creative. Help your child find healing avenues of creative expression, whether musical, visual, linguistic, dance or some other culturally or spiritually relevant way. 

Teach your children how to face a crisis.  Be honest and provide reliable information.  If you don’t know, it’s o.k. to acknowledge that. You can say, ‘That’s a really good question, let’s think about how we can find the answers. Don’t overwhelm your child with more than they need to know at the time. Your child will be reassured by your honesty. Children can feel secure in a dangerous world if they feel they have a caring adult they can depend upon and trust. 

Share your belief that love is stronger than hate. Help your child move toward constructive actions that fight every kind of bigotry, and prejudice.  Share stories of the courage of First Nations heroes in everyday life who have stood up to racism and discrimination.  Point out ways in which you have observed your child speaking out, reaching out or helping others at home, at school, in clubs, places of worship or in other activities.

 

Guidelines for Parents/Guardians to support children through times of grief during and after a traumatic event (Safer Schools Together)

Be yourself – Demonstrate your natural concern calmly and in your own words.

Be available – Spend time with your child. Attempt to distract your child by reading, walking, going to a movie, etc.

Listen – Let your child express his/her thoughts, concerns, feelings, and perceptions in a nonjudgmental, emotionally safe environment.

Explain – Talk about what you know in short, truthful statements. Don’t be afraid to admit that you do not have all the answers. Do not speculate.

Develop resiliency – Your child will look to you for reassurance. Do not convey your own feelings of hopelessness, but rather let your child know that they will get through this difficult period.

Provide comfort – Physical and verbal comforts are great healers.

Attend to physical manifestations of trauma - Children will often complain of headaches, stomach aches, backaches, etc. Monitor physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, anxiety, sleep disturbance, etc. and determine whether medical intervention is required.

Maintain regular routines – As much as possible, attempt to provide normalcy to your child. Humans are creatures of habit and derive comfort from regular routines.

Monitor media exposure – Do not overexpose your child to media reports (especially preschool and elementary age children).

Seek additional support – When appropriate, your child should be directed to community support agencies.

Reference Links (NACTATR)
https://www.nactatr.com/files/2020NACTATR-PFA.pdf

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/conversations-about-historical-trauma

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/age-related-reactions-traumatic-event

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/going-beyond-intelligence/201811/how-should-you-talk-your-child-about-the-holocaust

Canadian Resources (NACTATR)
Métis Nation BC – Mental Health Services (KUU-US Crisis Line Society)

First Nations Health Authority – Mental Health Benefit

KUU-US Crisis Line

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum Society

Aboriginal Wellness Program

Canadian Mental Health Association - British Columbia Division

HeretoHelp

Kids Help Phone

Crisis Services Canada

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line

Every Child Matters

Digital Safety Sessions

Supporting parents and families with information about resources and services

Digital Safety sessions, Cyber Alerts, The FoundryBC App

May 21, 2021

We're highlighting Digital Safety and Wellness in the three items below.

Here is some information about 5 upcoming digital safety sessions, a cybertips website where you can sign up to receive notifications, and an app you can download to help you find faster and easier access to mental health and substance use support services. 

5 Digital Safety Sessions with White Hatter - 1st session June 10, 2021

The dark and dangerous side of the internet and social media is a challenging subject for parents, caregivers and educators. These 5 free sessions are designed to help. The Abbotsford Police Department PATHWAYS and The White Hatter are offering social media safety and digital literacy webinars. 

The White Hatter is a Canadian based, international multi-award winning company with provincially licensed online investigators/presenters who teach social media safety, digital literacy, online privacy and security. Presentations have been made to more than 500,000 teens and tens of thousands of parents.

The sessions listed here offer limited seats, and registration is required.

Topics are:

Register here

Register here

Register here

  • June 30, 2021 - Online Gaming: Facts, Fiction, and Mental Wellness and What Parents Need to Know – 90min.

Register here

Register here

Cybertip.ca Alerts - Sign up to get notifications

Cybertip.ca Alerts are notifications sent out to inform the public of concerning technology trends and new resources designed to increase children’s personal safety. As Canada’s national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, the information reported to Cybertip.ca enables us to identify the online risks children and youth are facing. Recognizing that it can be difficult to keep up with technology, signing up for these alerts provides you with important information to help keep your family safe while using the various popular platforms on the Internet.

Sign-up here to receive Cybertip.ca Alerts notifications.

Download the Foundry App to Access Support and Services  

Foundry App Helps Youth Facing Unprecedented Stress 

Mental health and substance use services and supports are faster and easier to access for youth and their caregivers across BC with the new FoundryBC app.

It was co-created by youth for youth for 12-24 year-olds. Services offered include drop-in and scheduled counselling, primary care, peer support and group sessions.

For more info, read the Provincial Government news release, New Foundry BC app transforms access to vital services for youth, caregivers.

To learn more about the Foundry app, visit the Foundry web portal.  

District Health and Safety Guidelines

Virtual Town Hall Meeting - Livestreamed Session Link

Feb. 12, 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. This is also where the FAQ containing all the questions from email and the Facebook and YouTube chats will soon be posted. 


Resources for Parents

Enhanced Safety Measures for K-12

On February 4, 2021, the Ministry of Education announced changes to the health and safety requirements in place for schools. The updates include:
  1. Prevent crowding at all times; pay particular attention at the start and end of day.
  2. Avoid close face-to-face contact whenever possible.
  3. Assign staff to a specific cohort whenever possible.
  4. Stagger recess, lunch, and class transition times whenever possible.
  5. Ensure that the use of masks does not reduce or replace practicing physical distancing and other prevention measures, for both students and staff.
  6. Ensure prevention measures are in place in staff-only areas, including break and meeting rooms.
  7. Implement music classes according to the British Columbia Music Educators’ Association and the Coalition for Music Education in British Columbia Guidance for Music Classes.
  8. Ensure physical activity is delivered in line with the guidance in this document.

For your information, the following documents have been updated: 

Interactive Wellness Tool

Ask Kelty Mental Health

We know how tricky it can be for families to navigate the mental health system. Hopefully the information in the new Ask Kelty Mental Health toocan be helpful when looking for supports and services in BC for children and youth.

With the help of FamilySmart parent peer support workers at the Kelty Centre, this tool offers suggestions about where to go and what to expect when looking for support options.

You can type your question into the tool, and find answers to commonly asked questions families have such as:

  • My child needs help now, what can I do?
  • How do I find counselling?
  • What can I do while my child is on a waitlist?
  • I am struggling to cope with my child’s illness. Where can I get support?

 

What Schools Look Like Now

Our highest priority is the ongoing safety of students and staff. Here is an overview of what's being done in schools during this 2020-2021 school year.

Students are organized into Learning Groups. 

On the advice of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), students and staff are organized into learning groups, or cohorts. This reduces the number of close, in-person interactions. 

A learning group is a group of students and staff who remain together throughout the school quarter, semester or year, and who primarily interact with each other. A learning group could be made up of:

  • A single class of students
  • Multiple classes that sometimes join together for additional learning activities
  • A group of secondary school students with the same courses

The numbers of students in learning groups vary by type of school:

  • Elementary: 60
  • Middle: 60 and 90
  • Secondary: 120

Learning groups can also include staff: Teachers, Specialist support staff and/or Education Assistants (EAs).

Masks are required for staff and students in middle and secondary schools.

While the Provincial Health Officer requires masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces, this does not apply to schools. This is because schools are controlled environments, not public spaces. COVID-19 is primarily transmitted in home-like settings and in unstructured community settings, and increasing mask use in school at this time is not necessary.

Knowing that our current safety plans are very successful, there is no reason to increase the existing mask protocols in school. Three-layer masks are not required in schools by the Provincial Health Officer at this time.

Please continue to refer to the Maintaining Safe and Healthy Schools Guideline – COVID-19 document for masks in schools.

Two reusable masks have been provided to staff. Masks will be a personal choice for some students and staff. Masks provide additional protection in a multi-layered system of protection to reduce the risk of transmission.
 
There are three types of masks that will be utilized in our schools/facilities:

  1. Surgical masks - for first aid attendants only as part of their first aid kit.
  2. Disposable non-medical masks -  for any visitors, or for staff or students who become ill and do not have a mask, or for any student or staff who forget their mask at home.
  3. Reusable non-medical masks - all staff and students will be provided with two reusable masks.

Non-Medical masks will be used when physical distancing cannot be consistently maintained, and no other controls are feasible, and when interacting with staff or students outside of their cohort. Masks will be required for staff, middle and secondary students in high traffic areas such as buses and in common areas such as hallways or cafeterias.

Those that choose to wear non-medical masks must still seek to maintain physical distance from people outside of their cohort. There must be no crowding, gathering, or congregating of people from different cohorts, even if non-medical masks are worn.

Masks are an added layer in our controlled environments and as workers, we can continue to be vigilant about wearing masks in common areas, Including entering our workplaces and any time we leave our designated work area or office. 
Please continue to ensure all other controls are being followed such as staying home when ill, washing your hands, respiratory etiquette, and keeping a safe distance from others when possible.   

Schools are controlled environments where the focus is on protecting the safety of students and staff. 

The key to safety in schools includes the following: consistent groups of people; strict illness policies for students and staff; ensuring everyone follows effective personal practices like handwashing. Schools are expected to follow these District Policies, which are aligned with the Provincial Health Office, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Education: Maintaining Safe and Healthy Schools Guideline - COVID-19

 If someone in a school community tests positive for COVID-19, Interior Health will coordinate actions to be taken. 

If a staff or student in a school is confirmed by public health as positive for COVID-19, public health will work with our school administrators to determine actions to be taken. These actions will be determined by public health including communication.

If a student becomes ill at school, the parent or caregiver is contacted first. 

As outlined in the health and safety guidelines document, Maintaining Safe and Healthy Schools Guideline – COVID -19 (p. 12), the parent or caregiver is contacted first if a student becomes ill at school. Parents or caregivers must pick up their children as soon as possible if they are notified their child is ill.

Cleaning protocols are in place to ensure high touch points are kept sanitized. 

Cleaning and disinfecting occurs when staff and students are not in the immediate area from our custodian team. Teachers, students and other staff are doing their part to ensure their spaces stay clean. Only products that meet rigid criteria are approved for use in the district. The products chosen do not require any additional personnel protective equipment, for example there is no need for gloves, glasses or respiratory protection to be used with the selected products. Products were also purchased with scent considerations such as scent free or reduced scent. These products are:

  • RMC Enviro Care Neutral Disinfectant
  • Wood Wyant Saber Vert2Go Concentrate

Parenting Through the Pandemic

Parenting Skills for the Pandemic

We know parents and children need support in coping with the pandemic. We hope these recorded parent outreach sessions can offer some insight and comfort. Katherine Gulley is a private counsellor, and a former clinician at Child and Youth Mental Health. These are sessions she has held for the District beginning in April, 2020. 

2020-2021 School year

  • Support for parents, held April 13, discussed  ways to regulate well-being in navigating the stressors of the pandemic environment and the additional demands of supporting children's learning.

Community Agency Support

8 Tips to Support Grade 1 Readers at Home

 8 Tips to Support Grade 1 Readers at Home
Ministry of Education Resources for Parents 

Emergency Management BC:

Helping Kids Learn about COVID-19

Educational Videos with Questions from Kids:

Classroom Learning Activities:


Learn more about the WE Well-being program: https://www.we.org/en-CA/get-doing/activities-and-resources/wellbeing/

Learn more about the WE Schools @home program: https://www.we.org/en-CA/our-work/we-schools/at-home/

EASE at Home offers helpful tips for parents, like how to teach children calming breathing techniques or use structured games like scavenger hunts to build routine in a way that’s fun: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/ease

The Ministry of Education’s Erase strategy was expanded to include mental health: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase

For more information about available child and mental-health supports and contact information, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/mental-health-intake-clinics

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.

Here is the news release: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EDUC0026-000580

Here is a letter to parents and caregivers from Education Minister Fleming and the BCCPAC https://www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools

SD73 Suggested Wellness Links for Parents  

Emergency Assistance

  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call  9-1-1  

  • BC Suicide Line: If you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be, please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or visit the Crisis Centre FAQ page.

  • Kids Help Phone - Immediate support and information and if necessary referrals to community services agencies

  • KUU-US Crisis Line Society (24Hour Crisis Line for Aboriginal Adults/Elders & Youth) Toll free 1.800.588.8717

  • Native Youth Crisis Hotline (24 hour crisis line available throughout Canada) 1.877.209.1266

  • ERASE- Expect Respect and a Safe Education Reporting Tool

  • Ministry of Children and Family Development

    • If you think a child or youth under 19 years of age is being abused or neglected, you have the legal duty to report your concern to a child welfare worker. Phone 1-800- 663-9122 at any time of the day or night

Health and Wellness

Financial Resources

Ministry of Education

Parenting Support Resources

Recommended Apps 

SD73 Resources for Parents   

Easing Your Children’s Anxiety

Anxiety, worry and concern are all normal human emotions and it is natural for them to increase during times of uncertainty. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Children and Family Development created a new teacher education program to provide age appropriate tools for children and anxiety management called EASE - Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Teachers. It has been very well received throughout the province and in this district.

In response to the current situation and with parents and guardians so involved as active daily supporters of kids in our more socially isolated COVID 19 world, the EASE materials have been adapted for your use.
These fun, easy activities and resource links are designed to be helpful in providing some ideas to support the emotional well-being of all children. You can try one idea or engage in the full set and they are beneficial to every child.
Go here to access either the Kindergarten to Grade 3 ideas or Grade 4 to Grade 7 resources.

SD73 has created this companion resource of some of our teachers reading stories that help kids understand their worries, feelings, and thoughts to go along with the EASE resources. 

Our staff are working hard to collect, vet and curate resources for parents. Here is an Elementary Parents Support Resource site that you can subscribe to, and receive updates as they are posted.

And here is a Secondary Parents Support Resource site, that you can subscribe to, and receive updates as they are posted. 

We are including this link in two places -- you will see it under support for children and teens and we are including it here too, because it is prepared by SD73 staff - We know everyone is affected, and the way adults respond will affect the way children feel about what is happening. Here is some helpful info. 

Support for Children and Teens 

COVID-19 School Exposures

Interior HealthInterior Health’s COVID-19 school exposure webpage provides timely and accurate information for parents, teachers, staff and students about COVID-19 cases in schools as they occur, and details about the school notification process. 

June 8, 2021 - Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Since my last update to you on May 26, 2021, Interior Health has advised me of one positive exposure of COVID-19 at NorKam Secondary.

Those affected have been sent a letter from the school’s principal and isolation letters from Interior Health.

We will not relax our vigilance in following COVID-19 protocols even though case numbers are declining in the community.  

We will continue to follow the Ministry of Education’s COVID-19 Operational Guidelines for Schools as set out by the Ministry of Health during the remaining few weeks of the school year.

Your efforts are a huge part of the reason we have been able to maintain safe and healthy environments in our schools. Thank you for everything you are doing. I ask that you continue to take all the required precautions for the remainder of this school year.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent

 Updates
 
May 26, 2021 - Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Since my last update to you on May 11, 2021, we have been advised by Interior Health that we have had positive exposures of COVID-19 at:

  • Sa-Hali Secondary School
  • Brock Middle School
  • Beattie Elementary School

Those affected have been sent a letter from the schools’ principals and isolation letters from Interior Health.  We continue with our process of deep cleaning each school as these exposures occur.

A reminder that young people between 12 and 17 years old (born in 2009 or earlier) can register and get vaccinated against COVID-19. Young people can register themselves, or registration and booking can be done by parents, guardians, and trusted adults. Register:

Most vaccine appointments for young people age 12 to 17 years will take place at the same immunization clinics used to vaccinate people in other age groups.  

While the provincial re-start plan has been announced, and we are making progress, these recent exposures in our schools remind us that we must continue to proceed cautiously so we can all complete this school year safely.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent

May 11, 2021 - Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Since my last update to you on April 29, 2021, we have been advised by Interior Health that we have had positive exposures of COVID-19 at:

  • Valleyview Secondary
  • Chase Secondary

Those affected have been sent a letter from the schools’ principals and isolation letters from Interior Health. Our cleaning crew has given each school a deep cleaning.

I am pleased to inform you that I have received a letter from Interior Health about an increase in the vaccine supply, which means all SD73 staff are included in the province’s immunization program for frontline workers. They are now able to immediately register for their vaccines.

I remain optimistic that with the increasing numbers of vaccinations being administered and your continuing vigilance to ensure students perform their daily health checks, we can continue to limit incidents of exposure at our schools.

These precautions are the key to maintaining safe environments in our schools and workplaces and finding our way safely through the pandemic.  

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent

April 29, 2021 - Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Since my last update to you on April 14, 2021, we have been advised by Interior Health that we have had positive exposures of COVID-19 at:

  • Bert Edwards Science and Technology Elementary School 
  • Westmount Elementary 
  • Kamloops School of the Arts

Those affected have been sent a letter from the schools’ principals and isolation letters from Interior Health. Our cleaning crew has given each school a deep cleaning.

It is somewhat reassuring that we have not seen a significant increase in the number of exposures in our schools that we thought might happen post-March break, given our experience after the winter break. This is in part due to your continuing vigilance in ensuring students perform their daily health checks, and your continuing efforts to limit travel and social interactions. It is through these precautions that we will maintain safe environments in our schools and workplaces. These efforts, I hope, will continue until everyone can be vaccinated.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent

April 14, 2021 - Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this finds you enjoying the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight.

Since my last update to you on March 31, 2021, we have been advised by Interior Health that we have had positive exposures of COVID-19 at:

  • Arthur Stevenson Elementary School,
  • Valleyview Secondary School,
  • Westsyde Secondary School and
  • Kamloops School of the Arts. 

Letters to parents from the principals as well as the self-isolation letters from Interior Health to those affected in the related school communities have been sent. We continue our process of deep cleaning each school when these exposures occur.

We also had an evolving situation at Sun Peaks with respect to the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. We have been informed of a number of cases within the Sun Peaks Community since Friday. I have been monitoring this situation very closely with the assistance of the Medical Health Officer. He advises that there has been no impact on the elementary school at this point so it will remain open. The school underwent a deep clean on Sunday evening.

We continue to find our way forward thanks to your ongoing efforts. We are nearing the end of the school year and I know this has been challenging, at times beyond anything we could have imagined. We need to remain committed and determined to keep moving forward together.

Terrence S Sullivan, Ph.D.
Superintenden

March 31, 2021 - Amended Health and Safety Guidelines

Dear Parents;

As I mentioned in my letter to you earlier this week, public health announced that school districts amend health and safety guidelines regarding masks in the school setting.

The Ministry of Education, under the direction of the office of the Provincial Health Officer, has enhanced the health and safety guidelines for all K-12 staff and students as COVID-19 community cases are climbing in many parts of the province.

Effective immediately all K-12 staff, students in grade 4 to 12, and visitors will be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, and on school buses - both within and outside of their learning group.

Exceptions include:

  • A person who is unable to wear a mask because they do not tolerate it (for health or behavioural reasons);
  • A person 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. actively playing a wind instrument, high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
  • If a person is eating or drinking;
  • If a person is behind a barrier;
  • 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.

Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are strongly encouraged to wear a mask indoors in schools and on school buses – both within and outside of their learning group – though mask wearing ultimately remains a personal or family/caregiver choice for these students.

Masks are available at each school. If your child requires an additional mask contact the school office.

This guidance has been issued along with other extensive public health measures announced March 29, 2021, by the Provincial Health Officer and is not incorporated into the Maintaining Safe and Healthy Schools Guideline – COVID-19.

As we have throughout this pandemic, we will continue to work closely with our local health authority, medical health office, WorkSafeBC, and our health and safety committees to do everything possible to maintain safe schools.

Terrence S. Sullivan, PH. D
Superintendent

March 30, 2021 - Changes Coming to SD73 Health and Safety Guidelines

Dear parents,

There have been two positive exposures of COVID-19 in our schools since my last letter to you on March 23, 2021. We have been advised by Interior Health of exposures at NorKam Senior Secondary and Westmount Elementary.

Letters have been sent to those parents from their principals advising the dates of the exposures. Also, Interior Health has sent letters regarding self-isolation to those affected in their school communities.

Yesterday, public-health announced that school districts amend health and safety guidelines to require students starting at Grade 4 to wear masks while at school. More details will be provided to school principals, updated in the COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines, and will be passed along to you in the coming days.

On Friday, and again yesterday, I attended meetings hosted by the Deputy Minister of Education who provided information on the rollout of the vaccine to the K to 12 education sector and provided a COVID-19 update. I also attended the briefing yesterday hosted by the Premier, the Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Medical Health Officer.

While we will learn more about the specifics regarding deployment of the vaccine to school district personnel in the next 10 days, it was emphasized that school districts are being given priority, not due to risk, but due to a desire to keep our schools open and stable. Schools represent only 10% of the total transmissions of the virus in our province.

Please be assured that all K-12 staff, regardless of their vaccination status, must continue to follow the COVID-19 safety measures that are in place in K-12 schools.

There is a lot to be optimistic about in the final component of this school year.  However, given our experience after the Christmas Break, we must continue to be especially vigilant over the next three weeks. 

Thank you again for all you are doing to keep our schools safe. Let us continue our adherence to the guidelines in the coming weeks so we can approach the summer safely and in good health.

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D.
Superintendent

March 23, 2021 - Looking Ahead with Optimism

Dear parents,

Welcome back, I hope your family enjoyed the break from school.  We are now moving into the final months of the school year – the last 100 days – and it is more important than ever that we maintain the safe and healthy schools that have brought us this far.

There have been positive COVID-19 exposures in our schools since my last letter to you on March 12, 2021. We have been advised this week by Interior Health of exposures at Westmount Elementary School and Dufferin Elementary School.

Letters have been sent to parents and staff from principals advising of the dates of the exposures. Also, Interior Health has sent letters regarding self-isolation to those affected in the related school communities. 

I understand that the challenges have been significant this year. It is quite remarkable how parents and staff have, day-in and day-out, met the needs of students.

I hope you are looking ahead with optimism, knowing the end of the school year is in sight and so too perhaps, we will see increasing immunity in our communities.

Please continue to be vigilant in taking all the steps you have been taking all year to maintain safe and healthy environments in all our schools. 

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

March 12, 2021 - COVID-19 Update from Superintendent of Schools

Dear parents,

Here is an update on positive COVID-19 exposures in our schools since my last letter to you on March 8, 2021. We have been advised this week by Interior Health of exposures at Brock Middle School, Arthur Hatton Elementary School, and Beattie Elementary School.

Letters have been sent to parents from their principals advising of the dates of the exposures. Also, Interior Health has sent letters regarding self-isolation to those affected in the related school communities. 

As you head into a much-needed spring break, I am mindful of how challenging this year has been for us all. While the year has been long, recently we have seen signs of optimism that life will return to normal. However, for now we must remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic.

While it is important that everyone gets some downtime next week and you are able to enjoy spring break, please remember to do so safely, as the virus is still with us and unfortunately still is spreading in our communities.

It is my hope that your children are able to relax with some time away from school, but will also be safe. Our schools continue to make tremendous efforts to protect our students and staff, but we must continue to be vigilant in following the Provincial Guidelines to keep our schools safe for when we return to classes on March 22.

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D.
Superintendent

March 8, 2021 - COVID-19 Update from Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents,

Since my last letter to you on March 2, 2021, we have been advised by Interior Health that we have had positive exposures of COVID-19 at NorKam Secondary, Savona Elementary, South Kamloops Secondary, Brock Middle, and Beattie Elementary schools.

Letters have been sent to parents from their principals advising the dates of the exposure. Also, Interior Health has sent letters regarding self-isolation to those affected in the related school communities. 

All schools have had enhanced cleaning, and unless you have been notified otherwise by your school or Interior Health, it is safe for your children to be at school.  

Information about school exposures is posted by the BC Centre for Disease Control, and it remains on the page for two weeks. This site is linked from the Parent Resource page on the district website.  

We must continue to be vigilant, to continue limiting our social gatherings, to conduct daily health checks, and to remain home if showing any symptoms. These are important actions in our daily efforts to do all we can to continue to control exposures within our schools.

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D.

Superintendent

 March 2, 2021 - COVID-19 Update from Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents, 

Today’s update is for exposures and confirmed cases of COVID-19 at several secondary and elementary sites since Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 and includes:

  • Arthur Stevenson Elementary
  • Kay Bingham Elementary
  • Kamloops School of the Arts
  • NorKam Secondary
  • Valleyview Secondary
  • SKSS
  • Chase Secondary

All schools have had enhanced cleaning, and unless you have been notified otherwise by your school or Interior Health, it is safe for your children to be at school.  
 
Information about exposures is posted by the BC Centre for Disease Control, and it remains on the page for two weeks. This page is linked from the district website and is readily accessible.

With exposures increasing again in our communities and our schools we must continue to be vigilant, to continue limiting our social gatherings, conduct daily health checks, and remain home if showing any symptoms.

I recognize that this pandemic has been going on for a long time, and it has been challenging for many. As many have said, this a marathon, and this stretch seems particularly long.

The days are also getting longer, and it is my hope that you are able to take advantage of the extra daylight for outdoor activities and are beginning to look forward to a well-deserved spring break.

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D.
Superintendent

Feb. 26, 2021 - COVID-19 Update from Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents

Today’s update includes exposures and confirmed cases of COVID-19 at several secondary and elementary sites over the past 14 school days including Sa-Hali, Valleyview Secondary, SKSS, NorKam Secondary, Westsyde Secondary, Twin Rivers Education Centre, Beattie Elementary, Aberdeen Elementary, Arthur Stevenson Elementary, Juniper Elementary, and Lloyd George Elementary.

We have been working with Interior Health to ensure notifications of the exposures and self-isolations occur promptly, and we have been addressing the concerns of parents, students and staff involved.

We are reminded by Interior Health that only the health authority can determine who is a close contact. We will continue to work closely with Interior Health to provide ongoing communication as required.

All schools have had enhanced cleaning.  
 
Information about exposures is posted by the BC Centre for Disease Control, and it remains on the page for two weeks. This page is linked from district website and readily accessible.

On Feb. 11 we hosted a virtual town hall with Dr. Carol Fenton, Interior Health, Medical Health Officer. If you were unable to attend, the town hall, as well as the media question session following, is posted. Each of the questions has been addressed and posted to the FAQ. It is available here.

During the town hall Dr. Fenton reminded us that IH data shows most of the virus transmission is being driven by adults, and that so far, rate of exposure in schools is relatively low compared to the rate of exposure in the surrounding communities.  

But the virus does remain in our community and we must continue to be vigilant.

I was also reminded during the town hall, as I am every day when I am in schools or speaking to school leaders, of the added stress we are all under during this pandemic and we want to take steps to reduce that as much as possible. District staff have put a great deal of thought into dealing with the trauma caused by this pandemic to students. There are also several support staff in the district who can respond if a student does have needs or is experiencing stress.

It is my hope that you will reach out to your school principal if you believe your child needs additional support. 

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D.
Superintendent

Feb. 5, 2021 - Superintendent's COVID-19 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Today’s update includes several exposures and confirmed cases of COVID-19, most notably at Sa-Hali Secondary School, but at other secondary and elementary sites as well including: Arthur Stevenson Elementary, David Thompson Elementary, Twin Rivers Education Centre and Valleyview Secondary.  

We have been working with Interior Health to ensure notifications of the exposures and self-isolations occur promptly, and we have been addressing the concerns of parents, students and staff involved.

As part of our efforts to ensure the community has the information it needs, we will be hosting a virtual Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 pm. Dr. Carol Fenton, Chief Medical Officer for Interior Health, will join with me and Board Chair Ms. Rhonda Kershaw to answer your questions. More details will follow soon – in the meantime, you can email your questions to superintendent@sd73.bc.ca.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Office announced enhanced safety measures for K-12. All middle and secondary students, and all K-12 staff will now be required to wear a mask in all indoor areas, except when:

  • sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom
  • there is a barrier in place
  • eating or drinking

For elementary students, wearing masks indoors or on buses is not required. Elementary students’ mask use should be based on their personal preference or family/caregiver’s choice. Masks are one of the many important layers of protection against the spread of COVID-19. For more, visit: gov.bc.ca/safeschools.

Throughout this pandemic we have followed the guidelines established by the Ministry of Health through the Ministry of Education and WorkSafeBC, and we will continue to do so until this pandemic ends. The provincial health guidelines for schools, including the enhancements announced yesterday, will continue to be our reference point.

We know that what happens in schools mirrors what happens in communities, and while we’ve seen increased school exposures, the transmission rates inside our schools remains lower that what we are seeing in the broader community. We believe that school is still the best place for students to be and keeping schools open and safe is our priority.

We will continue the daily monitoring of COVID-related matters across the district. I am hopeful that the measures we are taking, including the strengthening of mask policies, will help to reduce the cases in our schools and in our communities.

I want to thank you again for your ongoing support as we continue to meet the challenges provided by this pandemic.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

Superintendent

Feb. 1, 2021 - Superintendent's COVID-19 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians:

The District has been informed of eight positive cases of COVID-19 in two of its schools since the last update. Those schools are;

The school community members affected are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams. We are thinking about them and their families as they recover.

As we are informed about cases of COVID-19 exposures in our schools, we are communicating immediately with staff and parents of affected schools.

We continue to follow the processes established by the Interior Health Authority. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact, and they will coordinate contact tracing communication.

In the case of a confirmed or unconfirmed case of COVID-19 in a school, the school district will follow the process outlined in COVID-19 Protocols for School and District Administrators document.

Thank you for your continuing vigilance in following health care protocols and doing all you can to keep yourselves and your families safe.

We will be providing updates to our website and to media twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

Superintendent

Jan. 28, 2021 - Superintendent's COVID-19 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We have had four exposures in our schools since our last update.

This week, the District was informed of positive cases of COVID-19 in these schools:

The school community members affected are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams. We are thinking about them and their families as they recover.

Each school has had enhanced cleaning.  I understand parents, staff and students are feeling concerned, I ask that everyone continue doing all they can to keep each other safe. We will come through this challenge if we can stay the course.
 
As we are informed about cases of COVID-19 exposures in our schools, we are communicating immediately with staff and parents of affected schools.

We continue to follow the processes established by the Interior Health Authority. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact, and they will coordinate contact tracing communication.

In the case of a confirmed or unconfirmed case of COVID-19 in a school, the school district will follow the process outlined in COVID-19 Protocols for School and District Administrators document.

We will be providing updates to our website and to media twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

Superintendent

Jan. 25, 2021 - Update on COVID-19 in our Schools

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We have had four exposures in our schools since our last update.

On Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, the District was informed of positive cases of COVID-19 in these schools:

The school community members affected are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams. We are thinking about them and their families as they recover.

Each school has had enhanced cleaning.  I understand parents, staff and students are feeling concerned. We must all continue to do all that we can to keep each other safe.  We will come through this challenge if we can stay the course.

As we are informed about cases of COVID-19 exposures in our schools, we will continue to communicate immediately with staff and parents of affected schools.

Also, we will continue to follow the processes established by the Interior Health Authority. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact, and they will coordinate contact tracing communication.

In the case of a confirmed or unconfirmed case of COVID-19 in a school, the school district will follow the process outlined in COVID-19 Protocols for School and District Administrators document.

We will be providing updates to our website and to media twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

Terrence S. Sullivan, Ph.D.

Superintendent

 Jan. 18, 2021 - School COVID Exposure Update

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We have had four exposures in our schools since our last update.

 The district was informed of the following positive cases of COVID-19 today:

  • Sunday, Jan. 17: Juniper Ridge Elementary, exposure Jan. 11, 2021
  • Sunday, Jan. 17: South Kamloops Secondary, exposure Jan. 12 and 13, 2021
  • Sunday, Jan. 17: Valleyview Secondary, exposure Jan. 11, 2021
  • Monday, Jan. 18: Marion Schilling Elementary exposure Jan. 14, 2021

The school community members affected are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams. We are thinking about them and their families as they recover.

Each school has had enhanced cleaning. These exposures are reflective of the increased number of cases in our communities, and while I understand the concern that parents and staff and students must be feeling, I ask that everyone to stay the course. By continuing to do all we can to keep each other safe, we will come through this challenge.
 
As we are informed about cases of COVID-19 exposures in our schools, we are communicating immediately with staff and parents of affected schools.

We continue to follow the processes established by the Interior Health Authority. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact, and they will coordinate contact tracing communication.

In the case of a confirmed or unconfirmed case of COVID-19 in a school, the school district will follow the process outlined in COVID-19 Protocols for School and District Administrators document.

We will be providing updates to our website and to media twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D

Superintendent of Schools

Jan. 13, 2021 - School COVID Exposure Update

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I trust you have had some time over the holidays to enjoy the season with your families.

As we begin this new year the virus continues to be with us. The number of cases in our communities has increased since our return to school and these increased numbers are having an impact on our schools.

We were advised on Sunday of an exposure at Barriere Secondary School (exposure dates Jan. 4, 5, and 8). On Tuesday, we were advised of two additional exposures at Barriere Secondary (exposure dates Jan. 5, 6, 7, and 8). We were also advised on Monday and Tuesday of exposures at South Kamloops Secondary School (exposure dates Jan. 7 and 8). Also, on Monday, we were advised of an exposure at Arthur Hatton Elementary School (exposure dates Jan. 4 to 8).  Today, we were advised of an exposure at Barriere Elementary School (exposure on January 5, 7, and 8).

The increase in cases since the holiday season underlines the importance of maintaining vigilance so our schools remain controlled spaces. To do this we will continue to require your assistance so we can ensure that all students are following the provincial health guidelines for schools.

Interior Health has informed those who need to self-isolate as well as those who need to self-monitor. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact and we will continue to work closely with them to provide the information they need.

In each case, each school went through a deep cleaning. As we are informed about cases of COVID-19 exposures in our schools, we will continue to communicate immediately and directly with staff and parents of affected schools. We continue to follow the processes established by the Interior Health Authority which includes sending letters to parents and staff of each school.

For more information, Interior Health's COVID-19 school exposure webpage provides updates about COVID-19 cases in schools as they occur, and details about the school notification process. We will also be following the example of the Provincial Health Office in providing updates to our website and to media twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning the week of Jan. 18, 2021.

The Health and Safety teams within our schools and at the district are continuing to work to provide safe and healthy learning spaces for staff and students.

I again want to express my appreciation to you for your ongoing support in helping us to maintain safe learning environments for our children, our youth, and our staff.

Terrence S. Sullivan Ph.D
Superintendent of Schools

Jan. 5, 2021 - From the Superintendent

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I trust that you have had an enjoyable and restful holiday season despite the challenges we have all been facing in the context of the virus.  As we begin this new year we can look forward with hope that during this year we will see an end to the pandemic and a return to normalcy.

However, the virus did not take a vacation and is still with us. It is still being transmitted in our communities.  I was informed over the holidays that we have had two additional exposures in our schools. One occurred at Aberdeen Elementary School on *December 15th and another at Rayleigh Elementary School on December 17th and 18th.  Interior Health has informed those who needed to self-isolate as well as those who needed to self-monitor.

We continue to follow the processes established by the Interior Health Authority which included sending a letter to Aberdeen Elementary and Rayleigh Elementary parents and staff. Interior Health will be coordinating any further communication related to contact tracing. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact and we will continue to work closely with them to provide the information they need. 

These are now the fourth and fifth occurrences of COVID-19 in our schools and we must continue to be vigilant as we await vaccines. It will be some months before the full effect of the vaccinations will allow us to get back to normal. 

It is troubling to hear when anyone has contracted COVID-19. The decision by Interior Health to place individuals in self-isolation over the winter break deeply impacted those involved. We sincerely hope they are fully recovered. As a district, we take the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously. The Health and Safety teams within our schools and at the district will continue to work to ensure we are providing safe and healthy learning spaces for staff and students.

I want to thank you again for all your support during the past year.

Terrence S Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent of Schools

*Corrected to December 15th from December 14th

Dec. 18, 2020 - School Community Members Test Positive for COVID-19

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I hope this finds you and your families safe and well.

Earlier this week, the District was informed that a member of the Kamloops School of the Arts community has tested positive for COVID-19. They are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams. We wish them well and we are keeping them in our thoughts as they recover.

We have followed the processes established by the Interior Health Authority which include sending a letter to Kamloops School of the Arts parents and staff. Interior Health will be coordinating any further communication related to contact tracing. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact and we are working closely with them to provide the information they need. 

This is now the third occurrence of COVID-19 in our schools and while the pandemic we are experiencing will continue into the new year, there is a sense of optimism as the first vaccinations for COVID-19 have begun. However, it will be some months before the full effect of the vaccinations will allow us to get back to normal. 

It is due to your daily efforts that we are finding our way forward. As much as we can see how this pandemic may end at some point in 2021, we must not relax our vigilance. The virus remains in many of our communities and we must continue to keep our schools safe and secure. Your commitment and determination have helped us to do that, and for that you have my sincere appreciation.

I look forward to the new year with hope and confidence in our system. I would like to extend my best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season to you and your family, and hope that your break will be restful.

Terrence S Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent of Schools

Dec. 2, 2020 - School Community Members Test Positive for COVID-19

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Late yesterday, Dec. 1, 2020 the District was informed that two members of the Westsyde Secondary school community had tested positive for COVID-19. They are self-isolating at home with support from local public health teams. We wish them well and we are keeping them in our thoughts as they recover.

We have followed the processes established by the Interior Health Authority which include sending a letter to Westsyde Secondary School parents and staff yesterday evening. Interior Health will be coordinating any further communication related to contact tracing. Only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact and we are working closely with them to provide the information they need. 

Your assistance is appreciated in remaining vigilant to help maintain the controlled environments in our schools, This includes keeping your child home when ill and following our visitor protocol if you should be required to come to school.
If you have questions please visit our Parent Resource page. Interior Health’s COVID-19 school exposure webpage contains timely and accurate information about COVID-19 cases in schools as they occur.

Your support for our work in schools helps bring a much-needed sense of continuity, stability, and security to our communities. This will continue to be important moving forward as we are called on to address the challenges presented by this virus and to respond to COVID-19 cases in our schools.
 
Terrence S Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent of Schools

Nov. 27, 2020 - Why Mask Policy is Unchanged in Schools

Dear families,

 

You may have questions about the recently issued orders by the Provincial Health Officer requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces. This order does not apply to schools, because they are controlled environments, and not public spaces.

The school environment is controlled by relying on consistent groups of people following safety measures including staying home when sick, increased cleaning and regular handwashing,  keeping a safe distance from others when possible, and keeping students in classrooms and in their learning groups. Adults, middle and secondary students are wearing masks in common spaces.

Provincial health data confirms that increasing mask use in schools is not necessary because COVID-19 is primarily transmitted in home-like settings and in unstructured community settings.

Under the Provincial COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings, adults, and middle and secondary school students are required to wear a non-medical mask, face covering or face shield in high traffic areas. This includes buses, common areas like hallways, and anytime they are outside of their learning groups whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Non-medical masks are not recommended for elementary students due to the increased likelihood they will touch their face and eyes. They would also require assistance to properly put on and take off their mask, requiring increased close personal contact from school staff.

While the guidelines do not require masks in all circumstances in our schools, the guidelines do not prohibit the wearing of masks. Students are welcome to choose to wear a mask outside of the recommended guidelines.

Even if masks are worn, there must be no crowding, gathering, or congregating of people from different cohorts. This includes groups of parents and students on school grounds during pick up, drop off and lunch breaks.

We must remain vigilant in maintaining the controlled environments in our schools. We ask you to continue ensuring steps are being taken, including keeping your child home when ill and following our visitor protocol if you should be required to come to school.

If you have questions please visit our Parent Resource page. In addition, Interior Health’s COVID-19 school exposure webpage contains timely and accurate information about COVID-19 cases in schools as they occur.  

The health and safety of students, families and staff are our continuing priority. We appreciate your continued support.  

 

Terrence S Sullivan Ph.D
Superintendent of Schools 

Nov. 17, 2020 - RE: School Community Member Tested Positive for COVID-19

Dear families:

As you may have heard, a member of the NorKam school community has tested positive for COVID-19. They are self-isolating at home with support from the local public health teams. Our thoughts are with them and with their family during this difficult time.

The District is following the processes established by Interior Health to respond to this pandemic. A letter was sent to all parents and staff at the NorKam school community this past Sunday. Out of an abundance of caution, the District custodial detail team provided an enhanced cleaning of NorKam last weekend.


Interior Health will coordinate ongoing communication related to this situation, and the District will support them. It is important to note that only Interior Health can determine who is a close contact.

Our continuing priority is the health and safety of students, families, and staff. The virus is in the community – and there is an ongoing need for calm, care, and caution as we each do our part to keep each other safe in our community and schools.

We remain committed to ensuring our schools and workplaces are controlled environments, following the procedures outlined in the  Maintaining Safe and Healthy Schools Guideline – COVID-19. They are based on the recommendations and direction of the BC Centre for Disease Control, the Provincial Health Officer, and the Ministry of Education. It is important that we maintain the security of our buildings and workplaces.

Safety measures have been proven to work well in schools because they are controlled environments that have consistent groups of people. Safety measures include students (and staff) staying home when they are sick, increased cleaning in schools, regular handwashing, wearing masks in common spaces for adults, middle and secondary students, keeping a safe distance from others when possible, and keeping students in classrooms and learning groups.

Please refer to the School District website to remain current with respect to any new information regarding our response to the virus.

I want to acknowledge the professionalism of our teachers and staff during these last few months. They are providing the essential service of education to our children and youth through this pandemic. Their remarkable effort is making a difference.

Schools bring a much-needed sense of continuity, stability, and security to our communities. This will continue to be important if we are called on to respond to additional cases of COVID-19 in our schools. Your support has been critical as we address all the challenges presented by this virus. We will continue to need your support in the weeks ahead.

Terrence S Sullivan, Ph.D
Superintendent


Parent Resources – General

Math Moments - Strategies for Parents

SOGI

Kamloops SOGI Services

Safe Spaces – Interior Community Services Program Information

Safe Spaces is available in both Kamloops & Merritt and provides:

  • Drop-in and individual appointments
  • Weekly peer group meetings; workshops for community and school groups on homophobia and heterosexism
  • E-mail outreach and support
  • Resource and lending library
  • Referrals to other services

Who Is Eligible?

Safe Spaces is open to people 12-26 years of age.

How to Refer: No referral is required, we are an open door to the community.

Contact Information

Staff Cell: 250-371-3086 (both locations)
Kamloops Office: 250-554-3134
Merritt Office: 250-378-9676

Please call to get program locations

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People)

Kamloops Chapter
Contacts: Jim and Grace Williams
Phone: 1-888-530-6777 ext. 579 (toll free)

Kamloops Pride

Facebook: @KamloopsPride

Orchard Walk Medical Clinic

Supporting Team Excellence with Patients Society (STEPS) at the Orchard Walk Medical Clinic provides general family practice, primary care access and services for LGBTQ2S. As well, Dr. Harvey provides gender-affirming care and general primary care for the LGBTQ2S community.

Phone: (250) 828-8080

Digital Media Resource for Parents

Technology changes every single day making it nearly impossible to keep up with it all. This Parent’s Guide to Raising Digitally Responsible Youth gives you what you need to know in 2020 to stay in the loop about the most popular applications (apps) and trends.

 Understanding ADHD - Video Presentation

In this presentation (view here), Dan shifts mindsets from the symptom focused Outside-In Perspective; to the Inside-Out Perspective which provides a simple and useable understanding of ADHD brain function. The ADHD Inside Out Framework that he has developed allows participants to understand and respond to ADHD properly; what’s more, it explains ADHD in simple terms, which makes the Framework useable by anyone who encounters ADHD.

Dan offers strategies to help your student succeed in an educational setting.

Dan Duncan is an ADHD Coach/Consultant who coaches privately through his business ADHD Inside Out. He works in association with the BC Interior ADHD Clinic, and UBCO as an academic strategist.

Dan was diagnosed with ADHD in his 30’s. Together with his wife, he raised two sons - one has ADHD, the other does not. The son with ADHD is in his first year of full-time teaching as a grade 9 teacher, while his other son is completing a Masters degree.

  


SD73 Updates

 Feb. 26, 2021 - Dress code Incident at NorKam

Dear Parents;

I expect you are aware of an issue that occurred at NorKam Secondary School earlier this week.

We are reviewing this incident and are concerned about the allegations and treat them very seriously. This incident, like all incidents involving our students, is a matter that we cannot discuss publicly.

Separately, but timely in regard to the issue at NorKam, is the review of the dress code Administrative Procedure.

I want parents to be aware that our Administrative Procedure regarding dress codes has been under review for the past three months. We have reached a point where we have had a draft of a new district administrative procedure that is being reviewed by our senior staff. Over the next two weeks, it will be discussed and reviewed at the board office, then a draft will be circulated to all of our partner groups for their input.

Once a new Administrative Procedure is in place schools will then be directed to make their dress codes consistent with the new School District Administrative Procedure.

Terrence S Sullivan, Ph. D
Superintendent  

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