Part 1 – Understanding the Risk:
As per the Provincial Health Officer’s order, employers are no longer required to maintain a COVID-19 Safety Plan but must instead transition to a Communicable Disease Prevention Plan.
Communicable disease prevention focuses on reducing the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, and includes both ongoing measures (e.g., hand hygiene, cleaning) and additional regional measures to be implemented as advised by public health.
Public health strongly encourages all eligible students and staff to be fully vaccinated (i.e., receive 2 doses) against COVID-19 to protect themselves and those around them.
Additional Regional Measures are likely to be similar to some of those in place during the 2021-21 school year and may include such things as:
- Limits on gatherings and events;
- Reconfiguring room arrangements or incorporating more activities that maximize space between people and reduce face-to-face contact;
- Limiting visitors;
- Recommending increased mask use.
Part 2- Communicating
- The Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings have been developed by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the BC Centre for Disease Control, Indigenous rightsholders and education partners, including district/school leaders, teachers, support staff, and parents.
- These guidelines are based on the public health guidance developed by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
- Orientation sessions for all staff will provide an overview of the key principles and guidelines outlined and information on how these will be implemented at the school level.
- Signage is posted throughout the school to communicate guidelines.
Part 3- Measures, Practices and Policies to reduce the risk:
Supportive School Environments
- Staff will utilize positive and inclusive approaches to engage students in preventive practices, like hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and should not employ measures that are punitive or stigmatizing in nature.
- Staff will also utilize a trauma-informed lens when planning school activities (e.g., gatherings and events) and interacting with other staff and students, including considerations around respecting others personal space.
Attendance and Record Keeping
- Accurate class and bus lists will be maintained and kept for at least 45 days
- Practices are in place to maintain daily attendance records for staff, students, and visitors (including teachers on call, itinerant teachers/specialists, district/authority personnel, parent/ caregivers, and volunteers)
Daily Health Check
- Before coming to work all staff members must conduct a daily health check/self-assessment and upon arrival at work must complete a Daily Personal Health Check;
- Parents and Caregivers should assess their children daily for illness before sending them to school.
- The K-12 Health Check App can be used for the daily assessment of symptoms.
Symptoms of Illness
- All staff and students who have symptoms of illness must stay home (students and staff who experience symptoms consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition, e.g., seasonal allergies, can continue to attend school when they are experiencing these symptoms as normal).
- For guidance regarding specific symptoms of illness, staff/students/parents/guardians can:
- use the Self-Assessment Tool;
- call 8-1-1 or their family physician for guidance.
- use the BCCDC Symptom Guide
- Health care provider notes (i.e., a doctor’s note) are not required to confirm the health status of any individual, beyond those required to support medical accommodation as per usual practice.
Staff/Students who become sick while at school
- Practices are in place for students and staff who become sick while at school/work to be sent home as soon as possible.
- Some students or staff may not be able to be picked up immediately.
- A space is available where the student or staff can wait comfortably and is separated from others (at least 2M).
- Student or staff will be provided with a non-medical mask.
- Schools must provide supervision for younger children.
- Supervising staff will wear a non-medical mask and face shield if they are unable to maintain physical distance, avoid touching bodily fluids as much as possible, and practice diligent hand hygiene.
- Hand cleaning facilities are available and accessible throughout the school and are well maintained.
- Rigorous hand-washing with plain soap and water is the most effective way to reduce the spread of illness.
- Schools will promote the importance of diligent hand hygiene to staff and students regularly. For example, displaying hand hygiene poster at handwashing sites and teaching and reteaching proper hand hygiene.
- Hand-washing should be encouraged upon school entry and before/after breaks and eating, using washroom and using frequently touched shared equipment.
- Students and staff will:
- Cough and sneeze into their elbow, sleeve, or a tissue.
- Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene.
Physical Distancing and Space Arrangement
- Although 2M physical distancing is no longer recommended, other measures will be considered to help create space between people to support staff and students using a trauma informed approach.
- Remind students and staff about respecting personal space.
- Use signage and visual supports.
- Use available space to spread out.
- Implement strategies to prevent crowding in areas where people may gather, or at pick up and drop off times.
- Manage flow of people in common areas, including hallways and around lockers.
Personal Protective Equipment- Masks
- All K-12 Staff are required to wear a mask or a face shield (in which case a mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) indoors in schools and on school buses.
- All students in grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask indoors in schools and on school buses.
- Students in grades K to 3 are encouraged to wear a mask indoors and on school buses. Mask wearing remains a personal or family/caregiver choice for these students, and their choices must be respected.
- Schools and School Districts will have non-medical masks available for students who forget theirs.
- All visitors are required to wear a mask when they are inside a school or at a school site.
- Exceptions for staff, students, and visitors:
- The guidance outlined above regarding mask requirements does not apply to staff, students and visitors in the following circumstances:
• to a person who cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural 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 is important
Supporting Students with Diverse Abilities/Disabilities
- Supporting students with disabilities/diverse abilities may require staff providing support services to be in close physical proximity or in physical contact with a student.
- When staff are working with a student indoors, and the service cannot be provided from behind a barrier, staff are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield.
- Students in Grades 4 to 12 are also required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering when receiving services indoors and a barrier is not present.
- For students in Grades K to 3, the student or parent/caregiver should determine whether or not the student should also be wearing any PPE when receiving services in close physical proximity.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
- General cleaning of the premises, and cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, at least once in a 24-hour period.
- Clean and disinfect any surface that is visibly dirty.
- Practices are in place to clean and disinfect any surfaces a person’s body fluids have contacted after they have displayed symptoms of illness.
- Empty garbage containers daily.
- Continued enhanced cleaning measures.
* The recommended cleaning and disinfecting frequency for K-12 schools and other community settings outlined above was determined by infection prevention and control experts at the BC Ministry of Health, BC Centre for Disease Control and the Provincial Health Services Authority.
- Parents are encouraged to make appointments with the staff they wish to visit, and may enter the school once they have signed in at the front door and checked in at the school office.
- Information for visitors is posted by the entrance to the school, on the school’s website and included in communications to students and families.
- Schools are responsible for ensuring that visitors, including itinerant teachers, and SD personnel not usually on site, are aware of communicable disease protocols and have completed a daily health check, prior to entering the school.
- Parents/caregivers are encouraged to drop-off/pick-up students outside of the school.
- Exterior doors will be kept locked during the day to limit entry to the school. A door bell is located outside the main entrance and phone numbers are posted.
Ventilation and Circulation
- The District will ensure that heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are designed, operated, and maintained as per standards and specifications for ongoing comfort for workers (Part 4 of the OHS Regulation).
- Portable air conditioners and fans are only used in ventilated spaces with air moved from high to low
- School Districts should regularly maintain HVAC systems for proper operation and ensure that schools with recycled/recirculated air systems upgrade their current filters to a minimum MERV 13 filter or higher if possible.
- Where possible, natural ventilation should be maximized by opening windows and doors.
- Where possible, consider moving activities, such as lunch, classes, and physical activity outdoors when weather permits.
- Risk mitigation strategies are identified for excessive heat events or times of poor air quality.
Staff Only Spaces
- Utilize floor markings and signage to direct traffic flow and prevent crowding (e.g., in the break room, by the photocopier, etc.).
- For gatherings (e.g., meetings, pro-d, etc.), respect room occupancy limits, use available space to spread people out, and consider virtual options.
- Gatherings must occur in line with those permitted as per relevant local, regional, provincial and federal public health recommendations and Orders and any related WorkSafe BC guidance.
- Masks must be worn unless eating or drinking; see PPE mask requirements for staff.
School Gatherings and Events
- When planning assemblies or school gatherings, apply a trauma informed lens, respecting student and staff comfort levels regarding personal space.
- Use space available to spread people out as much as possible, respecting room occupancy limits, and ensuring enough space is available to prevent involuntary physical contact between attendees (i.e., overcrowding).
- Gradual transitions to larger gatherings.
*May change based on local health authority regulations
- Staff and students can continue to bring personal items to school, but they are encouraged to not share items that come in contact with the mouth
- Strategies to manage the flow of students around lockers will be implemented to minimize crowding and allow for ease of people passing through.
- Food services (e.g., meal programs, cafeterias, fundraisers, etc.) are following regular operational and food safety practices.
Community Use of Schools
- Community use of school facilities is aligned with related public health guidance, recommendations, and Orders.
BUSING – PART ONE
- Private vehicle use or active transportation (e.g. biking, walking, etc.) by students will be encouraged as much as possible.
- Bus drivers will wash or sanitize hands before and after trips.
- Masks and visors will be worn during loading and unloading of students.
- Students are to clean their hands prior to leaving home to take the bus, when they arrive at school, when they leave school prior to boarding bus, and when they arrive home.
- If a driver suspects a student has symptoms of illness they will remain at the stop and contact Tacan via radio for further direction.
- Students will be directed to take the first open seat from the back of the bus forward and should have assigned seats whenever possible should the need for contact tracing occur.
- All students grade 4 and up and staff are required to wear non-medical masks at all times while on the bus. Exceptions will be made for those who are unable to wear a mask because they do not tolerate it for health or behavioural reasons, those who are unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person and while eating or drinking.
BUSING – PART TWO
- Students in Grades K to 3 are encouraged to wear a non-medical mask or face covering on school buses but are not required to do so – mask wearing remains a personal or family/caregiver choice for these students, and their choices must be respected.
- Students will be spread out if empty seats are available.
- Windows are opened when the weather allows.
- Students will not board the bus until the student in front of them is completely up the stairs;
- Students will be directed to exit the bus from the front first maintaining proper spacing as they exit;
- Touch points will be disinfected between runs and at the end of the day.
- Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected when they are dirty.
Curriculum, Programs, and Activities:
- For music and physical education (and other subjects as necessary), prevention practices specific to the activity are implemented (e.g., cleaning mouth pieces and water bottles between use).
- Local and international field trips occur in line with those permitted as per relevant local, regional, Provincial, and Federal public health recommendations and Orders for local and/or international travel.
- Encourage outside play whenever possible;
- Students will arrive at school between 8:40 and 8:45 and will line-up at the front of the school. Students will be let in one at a time to perform hand hygiene before going to their classrooms.
- After being outside, (e.g., recess, lunch, outdoor learning) students will line-up and enter the school one at a time and will perform hand hygiene.
- Incorporate additional hand hygiene opportunities into the day;
- Common areas are marked with floor markings and signage to direct traffic flow;
- Procedures are in place to avoid crowding in common spaces.
- During breaks and other unstructured time in indoor settings, strategies are in place to ensure there is enough space available to prevent involuntary physical contact.
- Outside volunteers may be permitted in certain instances; please check with your site supervisor;
- Promoting safety measures in the school through the use of visual aids like floor markings and signage.
- Students are encouraged to bring a personal water bottle to school each day and will have access to a sink for refilling it. Water fountains will remain turned off at this time.
- Review Communicable Disease Guidelines with all staff prior to their return to in-class instruction;
- Reinforce the need for all staff to assess themselves daily for symptoms of common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or other infectious respiratory diseases prior to entering the school;
- Clearly communicate with parents/guardians their responsibility to complete an informal daily health check for their child/children before sending them to school;
- Communicate with parents/guardians what the process is for student drop-off and pick-up.
Part 4- Monitor and Update plan as Necessary
- Ensure staff/parents are provided with any new information in a timely manner and review with staff the process for reporting any concerns;
- Establish a central location where new information relating to communicable diseases is posted in your workplace;
- Establish a process for regular review of communicable disease plans with:
- District Joint Health and Safety Committee;
- Site based Health and Safety Committee;
- Partner Groups