School Restart Plan: Frequently Asked Questions
This document will be added to and refined as additional information becomes available. It is also highly recommended that parents take the time to read the other documents on the COVID-19 page of the district website as they provide much more detailed information on a variety of topics: https://www.sd38.bc.ca/covid-19-updates
- I have not yet completed the survey as I would like to know more about the options available to me for my child. Where can I get more information?
Please take the time to read this document as well as the links to other documents on the district website: https://www.sd38.bc.ca/covid-19-updates
- I have read all the documents and still have questions but do not want to miss the survey deadline of August 30. What should I do?
Please submit the choice that you are most likely to want. If you have more questions, please contact your child’s school principal the week of August 31. If you need to adjust your plan at that time, you will be able to do so.
- Will the district offer additional options other than those that are currently on the survey?
The programs that currently appear on the survey are what the school district will be offering this year. Parents who have questions about these options are encouraged to speak with their school principal to choose the best possible option.
ELEMENTARY IN-PERSON PROGRAM
- What will the structure of the day look like for the in-person program?
A typical school day at the elementary level will be as follows:
- All parents, employees and students will be expected to engage in a mandatory health declaration process each day before coming to school, with a firm requirement to stay home if sick.
- Each morning, teachers will greet their students at assigned entrance doors. The students will enter the school, wash or sanitize their hands and then begin the school day.
- Students will be in a regular classroom with their peers and classroom teacher and will learn grade-appropriate curriculum and be assessed in the normal fashion.
- Students will eat their lunches in the classroom under adult supervision. Play breaks at both recess and lunch will be outside. Students should be appropriately dressed as they will be outside for play breaks regardless of the weather. Recess and lunch play breaks will also be staggered so that no more than half of the student population is outside at one time.
- At the end of the school day teachers will escort their class to a designated meeting spot outdoors where parents and guardians can greet their children and then take them home.
- When will parents find out their child’s cohort and teacher?
During the week of August 31, schools will be confirming individually with each family whether they intend to have their child attend school in-person or plan to select another option. On September 8 and 9, staff will finalize class and cohort placements and parents will be informed of these placements by the end of the day on September 9.
- How many students will be in the classrooms for elementary school?
The Ministry of Education has indicated that elementary students whose parents choose to send them to school for in-person instruction will attend full time. This means that teachers will be teaching full-time all day, and classes can therefore not be divided up into smaller groups in order to provide remote instruction at different points during the day. Class sizes will continue to vary depending on the number of students assigned to a particular division and the number of students whose parents choose to have them attend in-person. It is likely that in most cases, elementary classes will continue to be below or at the class size maximums outlined below:
- Kindergarten: 20 students
- Kindergarten/Grade 1: 20 students
- Grades 1- 3: 22 students
- Grade 3 - 4: 24 students
- Grades 4 - 7: 28 students
- Before Covid-19, a typical elementary class consisted of between 20 and 28 students. Does the new plan including cohorts mean that students will now be in a combined class of 60 students?
Students’ main grouping will continue to be a ‘regular’ size class as outlined in the previous question. Students will continue to spend the great majority of their time at school with that class. Learning cohorts of up to 60 students will allow for students and teachers to work together for learning as needed. In other words, two Intermediate classes may make up a learning cohort so that the two teachers can plan activities for their students to work on together (i.e. “Buddy classes”). This is a common practice at the elementary level and is an important part of a student’s learning.
ELEMENTARY TRANSITIONAL LEARNING
- How does the transitional program work? What can I expect from the teacher and what will be expected of me?
Please refer to the Elementary Transitional Learning Program description for further details: https://bit.ly/2QFSIlD
- Can we choose transitional learning at a later date? If my child returns to school and feels unsafe, can they be taken out and put into transitional learning?
You may reassess your choice to be in the transitional learning program at any point before January 29, 2021, as long as there is space available in a transitional learning class in the school district.
- How long will the transitional learning program be available? What are the re-entry dates if we choose transitional learning if we want to come back to in person learning?
Transitional learning will be available until January 29, 2021, at which point the district anticipates that the majority of students will have returned to in-person learning at their home school. The school district will reassess options for the anticipated small number of students who wish to continue with transitional learning at that time. There are two re-entry dates available for families who may wish to have their children return to in-person learning before February 1, 2021. These dates are:
- October 13, 2020
- November 16, 2020
In order to allow time for planning, parents must give their school and their transitional learning teacher one week’s notice of their intent to withdraw from the program and return to their home school. This means that the schools and teachers must receive this information by:
- October 6, 2020
- November 9, 2020
- How will course content be delivered in the transitional learning?
Students will meet with their transitional learning teacher daily at set times over videoconference (i.e. Zoom) for whole group and small group instruction. The students will also be required to work on additional learning activities individually, supported by the parent/guardian. The district will provide parent support sessions so that parents can learn how to help their child with home learning.
- For students who have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive and have to stay home, will there be an online platform for them from their school to continue their learning?
Your child’s teacher will remain in contact with you, and your child, should they need to self-isolate. Your child will be able to keep up with class work via electronic communication with the classroom teacher, for example through the digital portfolio tool.
- If a student returns to the classroom later in the year, does their classroom placement stay the same or could they get put in another class?
Class organizations and placements will be set for when the students return to school on September 10. Students enrolled in transitional learning and/or in school learning will keep their class placement throughout the year. To the best extent possible, there will be no changes to classroom placements after September 10.
- Will there be transitional learning options for French Immersion students?
The district is committed to providing transitional learning options for all students, including French Immersion students. The results from the return to school survey will determine which transitional learning options may be required.
It is highly recommended that parents with health and safety concerns familiarize themselves with the COVID-19 Public Health Office’s Guidance for K-12 School Settings document. School districts do not set health and safety requirements and are required to adhere to these guidelines. The Richmond School District is committed to meeting or exceeding all health and safety guidelines as outlined.
- Will schools be conducting temperature checks on all staff, students, and visitors entering schools?
In all matters related to public health, our schools follow the direction of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO). At this time, there is no requirement to conduct temperature checks. All parents and employees will be expected to engage in a mandatory health declaration process each day before coming to school. This process will be shared with all parents and reviewed with students. Staff will receive a complete health and safety orientation before students return to school.
- Why are masks not mandatory in classrooms?
The district’s health and safety practices are in compliance with the direction from the Provincial Health Officer. The guidelines outline a layered approach including reinforced hygiene practices, physical distancing, learning cohorts, and the use of masks for staff and secondary students in spaces where physical distancing is not possible. At this time, the Provincial Health Officer has not indicated that masks must be worn in other circumstances. The Richmond School District will continue to comply with the Provincial Health Officer.
All students and staff are welcome to wear a mask while at school. The school district will be providing two re-usuable masks to every student and every staff member at the beginning of the school year.
- What will the school district do if a teacher is away from work - will substitute teachers be in different classes over the course of a week/month, or will they be considered as part of the cohort?
As the district is in the process of finalizing enrolment and staffing at our schools, we are also organizing how teachers on-call will be working in our schools. Health and Safety guidelines will be followed for all itinerant staff and teachers on call which means that if they are not within a particular learning cohort, physical distancing will be required at all times.
- What will the school district do when someone at a school is diagnosed with COVID-19, whether a staff person or a student? What is the plan for supporting a student’s ongoing academic learning if the student is required to self- isolate and is unable to attend school in-person?
As is always the case, schools will follow the direction and advice of the Provincial Health Officer if a staff person or student has been diagnosed with COVID-19. As per our usual processes, students who are absent from school for longer periods of time due to any type of illness, including COVID-19, will be provided with learning materials to complete while they are away from school.
- Will students be expected to self-isolate if the exposure is within their cohort?
Schools will follow the direction of the local public health authority if there is a direct COVID-19 exposure within their learning cohort.
- How will the school district inform parents of possible COVID-19 exposures, so that we can ensure that we take measures to avoid further exposure?
In the event of a possible COVID-19 exposure, schools will provide notification to staff or students' families if a staff member or student becomes ill with COVID-19 at home or at school when directed to do so by public health. http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID_public_guidance/Guidance-k-12-schools.pdf (p 5). School Districts do not have the authority to act in these circumstances without the direction of public health officials.
- Will the district change how it is offering instruction to students if there is an increase in cases in the general population or a certain number of confirmed cases at schools?
Every school district in B.C. is operating within the 5 Stage BC K-12 Education Restart Plan. Each district’s plans for school start-up this September were approved by the Ministry of Education and include how we will to move between the various stages should that be required. Currently, we are planning for and moving into Stage 2, but if directed by the PHO to move or revert to a different stage, we will make changes to how instruction is provided, based on the requirements of that stage.
- Is the survey binding or can I change my mind?
We know that parents make decisions with their child’s best interests in mind and that they may change their minds if they receive new information that causes them to think or feel differently.
The return to school survey is important to the school district as the information gathered informs our planning and therefore, we would like it to be as accurate as possible. However, we also understand that for some parents, choosing an option at this time can be difficult. Our hope is that parents and guardians feel that they can make an informed decision with the additional information provided to you here, and by your school. If parents do choose to adjust their plan, we ask that they contact their school principal.
- Will you be able to register for homeschooling after September 30?
As is the case in any school year, families can make the decision to withdraw from their current school and register as a homeschool student at any time during the school year. The September 30 deadline is one that is set by the Ministry of Education as per School Act requirements and is intended to ensure that all children are enrolled in an educational program for the coming school year.
- Do doctors’ forms need to be provided for immunocompromised students and will immunocompromised students who are not attending school in-person be assigned to their school teacher or a district teacher?
The majority of students who are considered immunocompromised are already known to their home school. Parents are encouraged to consult with their medical health provider to determine the level of risk regarding their child’s return to in-class instruction. Students who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, and have been identified by a medical health care provider as being high risk to attend school, will be provided with an at-home learning plan.
Who is responsible for supervising that at-home learning plan will depend on the individual circumstances at each school, including the number of students requiring this support within a particular classroom, or within the school. Students will continue to be assigned to a specific classroom, and teacher within their home school, but it may be district or school staff other than the classroom teacher who will work with the student. This person will collaborate and connect with the student’s school team while home learning support is provided. Regardless of which adult is responsible for supporting the immunocompromised student in his or her learning, the focus will be on maintaining that student’s connection to his or her regular school. If you have questions or wish to identify your child as immunocompromised, please connect with your school administrator.
- Will there be covered areas for students to eat outside on rainy days?
Elementary students will eat in their classroom and be supervised by an adult. Play times will be outside regardless of weather. While some schools may have covered play areas, they may not be large enough to house all students in a physically distanced manner and therefore, students should come to school prepared for all types of weather.
- Will parents be allowed to pick up kids for lunch and take them home?
In the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we are minimizing visitors to the school, including parents and guardians. This means that students should come to school with their lunch and snacks and everything that they need for the day.
- Will school sports continue this fall?
Inter-school sports will not be taking place this fall, however, extracurricular activities, which may include some sports, may take place within a single school site. Participants in these activities will need to comply with the health and safety protocols such as maintaining physical distancing.
- Will students be participating in gym class?
Students will continue to participate in Physical and Health Education classes which are a required part of the mandated curriculum. These classes will be conducted according to the health and safety guidelines.
* For the full list of Q&A please see the attachment below*