Choose your mask!

If they so wish, SD83 students and staff can once again resume using cloth or non-medical face masks.

When schools re-opened in January, with the highly contagious Omicron variant spreading, SD83 made the decision to supply medical three-ply masks to all students and medical or KN95 masks to all staff, in an effort to help keep everyone healthy and schools open. With numbers now trending downwards, and as promised, this short term measure has now ended.

The district has a good supply of 3-ply children’s masks, which will still be available to students.

Thank you to everyone for continuing to do the daily health check, staying home if you are ill, washing/sanitizing your hands, and wearing masks indoors.

P.L.A.Y Challenge

Play Shuswap is again hosting a fun event on BC Family Day weekend. SD83 Healthy Schools Coordinator and president of Play Shuswap, Laura Paiement, said last year the Family Day Play Challenge was such a success we decided to make it an annual event.

Join PLAY Shuswap and Salmon Arm Recreation, Enderby Recreation and Sicamous Recreation for a Family Day Weekend PLAY Challenge! Go to PLAY Shuswap on Facebook and submit a photo taken during Feb 18th-21st 2022 showing your household being active outdoors. See attached poster for fun ways to move outside with your family. There are great prizes to be won!

Thank you to the Province of B.C. for supporting this and other Family Day event.

Family Literacy Games Night

All K to 5 families are invited to participate in a virtual Family Literacy Games Night on Wednesday March 9th!

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Participating families will receive a free Family Literacy Kit (includes letter tiles, word cards, dice, and game boards) to use during the session, as families learn fun ways to support literacy skills at home. Interested families must register by Tuesday, February 15th so the kits can be ordered and sent home with students prior to the March 9th session. A huge thanks to LASS (Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society) for their financial support and partnership with this event.

Registration deadline: February 15th

Registration link: https://forms.office.com/r/8Pve8nyGid

*Games Night Zoom link and Family Literacy Kits will be sent home prior to the session

Updates to health check

Public Health and the Ministry of Education have recently updated recommendations and requirements around managing COVID-19.

Click on the link for the Daily Health Check and What To Do If You Are Sick document from public health. The Ministry’s K-12 Daily Health Check app/website is currently being updated and will be available soon.

The main message continues to be please stay home if you are sick, and to use all layers of protection available to you (vaccinations, hand hygiene, and masking). COVID-19 testing is no longer recommended for those with mild symptoms that can be managed at home. School COVID-19 Safety Plans (including hand hygiene and masking inside the school) remain the same.

There are some other changes, including how long someone with COVID-19 has to self-isolate. Please refer to the chart below:

Working together to keep schools open

SD83 Superintendent of Schools Donna Kriger hopes people have it in their hearts to put differences aside and work together to help keep schools open during this time of skyrocketing cases of COVID-19.

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“I hope everyone can work towards the goal of keeping schools open for our kids,” added Kriger. “I know people are experiencing COVID-fatigue, I know people have varying opinions around COVID, vaccinations, and masking. But, I also know people love their kids. Going to school, and in-person instruction, are very important for our kids’ mental and physical well-being.”

When the region’s lower than provincial average vaccination rates, lower rates of masking, and SD83’s limited numbers of on-call staff, are coupled with the increase in cases across the province, there is the potential for severe staff shortages which could lead to functional school closures. Kriger and the team want to get ahead of this by appealing to parents to help support measures to keep schools open.

READ KRIGER’S LETTER HERE

Kriger points out in her letter that what we know about the Omicron variant is that it is highly transmissible and has a much lower incubation period. “When I reflect about whether there is a better or more effective way of keeping our schools open for in-person instruction, I continue to come back to reducing the chances of transmission within our schools. One of the easiest ways of accomplishing this is resorting to what we learned as kids, that being proper hand hygiene. As a parent I also taught my kids to respect others by covering their nose or mouth when they were coughing or sneezing. It seems simple but we all know how those sneezes and coughs can slip out before we know it.”

“Procedural, surgical, and medical grade masks have proven to be effective in reducing the transmission of viruses. Knowing that Omicron is highly contagious, my reflection also leads me to consider how masking has been approached and if there is a more effective way of doing it in the future. Beginning January 4th, our district will be working to procure a limited supply of N95 masks for staff. In addition to this, we will be sending additional procedural masks to schools for students to use in place of their cloth masks.”

Procedural masks are breathable disposable masks designed for one-time use typically in medical environments. They are used to protect both those wearing them and those around them from the transfer of respiratory droplets by coughing, sneezing or talking.

Kriger adds schools will continue following their safety plans and safety measures including hand hygiene, physical distancing, and increased ventilation. “Our Board of Education of School District No. 83 is committed to ensuring all of our students, staff and schools are safe.”