Board of Education COVID-19 Updates

 

Please see the latest updates from the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District on COVID-19. All entries are chronologically entered and the latest update (top entry) will be the most up-to-date information the Board has to provide. We understand the uncertainty of these ever-changing times and are doing out best to keep our community informed.

Date: May 22, 2020

Title: Preparing to welcome students back to school

The Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District has been hard at work with staff and partners to plan for the transition to part-time voluntary in-class instruction on June 1st.

We know that the announcement from Premier Horgan and Minister Fleming was met with a number of emotions and questions. Those emotions and questions are all valid as we navigate this change together.

No matter what decision families make, whether to come to school or stay close to home, our District will support their learners. We are still committed to providing great educational opportunities to all learners.

Schools are safe to open and we are excited to welcome those of you who are choosing to come back on June 1st. Our custodians have worked hard to implement the new cleaning and safety protocols created by the BC Centre for Disease Control and WorkSafeBC. We know it is safe to bring our learners back to school.

Next week will see staff from our schools come back together to localize stage three of BC’s Education Restart plan, creating a ‘made in Cowichan’ response to schooling in our valley. These plans will be shared out to families from schools as they are finalized.

We know there is work to be done, and the Board of Education is fully supporting our community we navigate this transition back into class.

Thank you all for your continued adaptability and understanding as we travel this road together.

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Date: May 15, 2020

Title: Statement on local plans for ministry of Education announcement on Restarting BC’s Schools

I know that many members of our community would have been listening closely to Premier Horgan and Minister Fleming with their recent announcement on the role the education sector will play in the BC Restart Plan. The announcement laid out some dates and requirements for education across our province.

Our District has been working hard on transition planning for just such an eventuality. The Board recently started an Ad Hoc committee to focus on that work specifically and will be looking closely at this announcement to see what that means for our schools and community.  We have teams of staff who are working to localize these details and ensure we can continue to play our part in supporting our learners, families, staff, and community. Our plan will be laid out in detail over the coming weeks.

To ensure our plan will meet the needs of all of our community we will be releasing a survey early next week. This survey will help us plan our path forward in great detail and ensure we are making decisions that will provide the best outcome for our community.

We realize that this provincial announcement may affect our learners, families and staff in a variety of ways. Many will be happy to be getting back to a familiar routine, but some may feel anxious or scared. Each of these emotions or feelings is natural and we recognize that there will be a large diversity of comfort around this return to school. Our dedicated staff are prepared to support our returning learners in whatever way we can as our ‘new normal’ rolls back into our schools.

One thing that will not change is our commitment to providing support for the children for Essential Support Workers, our partnerships and work around the Food for Kids program, and our continuity of learning for those who cannot, or choose not to, return to school at this time. We have been in this together as a community from the start and we are committed to ensuring all of our learners, families, staff and community get what they need to thrive during this time of change and uncertainty.

One certainty we do have is that we are fortunate to be living in British Columbia, and specifically on Vancouver Island. Although the effects of COVID-19 will be felt in many areas of our lives for a long time, we know that we are extremely safe in our local context and it is safe for us to reopen our schools to our learners. There are only six active COVID-19 cases in all of Island Health as of Thursday, May 14. With a service population of near 800,000 in Island Health, this is welcome news. Under the direction of Dr. Bonnie Henry, WorkSafeBC, and the Ministries of Health and Education, we are confident that applicable safety procedures are in place and, when followed by staff and students, will provide the protection we all need to ensure everyone’s safety.

Our schools are safe places for our learners and staff and we are ready to welcome you back to class in whatever form that takes.

As Dr. Henry says, “be kind, be calm, be safe.”

Please take care of yourselves and enjoy the long weekend.

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Date: April 23, 2020

Title: Education looks different but learning continues under a new model

The change that COVID-19 has brought to our community cannot be understated. There have been widespread and necessarily restrictive orders from our Public Health Officer that have made us rethink what it means to be connected. In an organization that runs on connection and relationships, the Cowichan Valley School District has had to redesign the supports to our community in a variety of successful ways.

We have always supported our learners through food programs at schools. With those schools hosting in-class learning, we had to rely on the agility of our amazing staff and dedication of many community organizations and people. That change has resulted in the Food For Kids program that is jointly run by this group. Nearly 400 food hampers were delivered just last week as we connected with families around the district, ensuring that everyone is provided with what they need to thrive.

The support for Essential Service Worker’s children was a top priority for our District. We knew we could step up and support Essential Service Workers so they could do their important work that we all rely on. This week we opened up our care to Tier One and Two Essential Service Workers and have nearly 70 children in schools throughout the District. As part of our community we know we can do this one small thing to help reduce the stress on families of Essential Support Workers.

Our Educational Opportunities continue this week and we have seen some fantastic results from staff and learners around the District. We have been able to supply over 700 iPads to families to ensure learners have access to the technology that is primarily driving these opportunities. For families who do not have access to the internet, we will be disseminating 150 Wi-Fi enabled iPads, ensuring that everyone has equitable access to learning opportunities.

“Whether it is deep cleaning our schools for safety, delivering food for our students and families, providing care for the children of Essential Service Workers or providing at home learning programs, our staff have definitely stepped up!” says Candace Spilsbury, Board Chair of the Cowichan Valley School District. “We have deep appreciation for the work everyone is doing to support our kids, families, and the community through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

There has been fun too. In this uncertain time, we need to ensure we have the chance to take care of both our physical and emotional health. Many schools have shared video messages to their students and families they have made with their staff, and all have a good dose of humour.  These videos, coupled with some amazing resources from all over the District, are ensuring our learners are supported in many different ways.

We are taking this change in stride and are ensuring we are using our creativity to forge a new path and new connections as we collectively weather this storm.

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Date: April 15, 2020

Title: School District Eases Students and Families into At-Home Learning

The Cowichan Valley School District is ensuring all students are able to continue to have meaningful engagement with their education while learning at home. Our teachers, schools, and the District are committed to making this temporary transition a positive one.

Schools and teachers have worked hard over a short period of time to completely re-tool education in our local context, and they have found creative and supportive ways to slowly introduce students and families to this new educational reality. After contacting each student and family last week, teachers have been preparing activities for their students and classes. As master collaborators, teachers have gathered, created, and shared numerous resources to help engage and work with students.

“The new curriculum asks teachers to provide personalized, individualized instruction based on a students’ interests and passions and through project-based learning”, says Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Board of Education. “It is a strong reliance on positive relationships that helps learning like this flourish. With students being supported in their at-home learning by their teachers, we’re happy to see these relationships continue.”

All of our students need opportunities to access strong, positive relationships with teachers and other adults. In the same way that roots support and nourish trees as they grow, strong developmental relationships support and nourish young people’s success, giving them guidance and encouragement. Part of these crucial relationships is ensuring quality time for interactions with students. We will continue to be here to nurture those relationships and ensure that these educational opportunities are done in a way that respects families as we work through this time.

While numerous ways of connecting with our students are being explored, one that has come to the forefront are the tools that support on-line learning. We are dedicated to ensuring each family has access these supports, and families who need technology to support student learning at home are encouraged to reach out to their teacher or principal. For our graduates, it is important to note that requirements for course completion and graduation have been adapted to the new learning model and support from schools is available.

Through these difficult times it is hoped that these strong relationships with teachers will help support education will become a family affair, and be strongly supported through the relationships with teachers.

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Date: April 07, 2020

Title: School District Supports Essential Services Workers

The Cowichan Valley School District are welcoming some students back this week as the support for Essential Service Worker’s children starts running in schools throughout the district.

The School District is part of the COVID-19 Cowichan Community Child Care Network, working with local Ministries of Health and Child and Family Development, the Regional Emergency Operation Centre, Clements Centre Child Care Resource and Referral, and Our Cowichan to ensure Essential Services Workers have child care and/or supervision for their children so that they can continue to work to support all of us.

“The Board of Education acknowledges the importance of providing free, on-site care and educational instruction for children of Essential Service Workers during this public health crisis”, said Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District. “We are pleased to be able to work with community partners to develop a support system for Essential Service Workers with children.”

The District asked parents to complete a survey to identify Essential Service Workers who needed supervision of their children in order to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Face-to face instruction in schools was suspended by the province on March 16, 2020 and some essential services workers have been scrambling to find alternate care for their children. The District, and partners, are happy to mobilize to help fill that need.

Based on the survey results, this week eight elementary schools will start having some students on site to provide this essential services support.

The essential services support will be open Monday-Thursday, 8:00 am-4:00 pm, for children aged 5-12 (Kindergarten to and including Grade 7) at the schools.  If you are an Essential Service Worker and still require childcare for your school-aged child, please contact your school principal. Essential Services Workers with children aged 0-5 can find child care in the community through Clements Centre Child Care Resource and Referral at 250-746-4135 Ext. 231 or cbarclay@clementscentre.org

With the introduction of this educational services support for Essential Services Workers, the School District is working hard to support students, families and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Date: April 02, 2020

Title: School District works with Community Partners on Food Distribution

The School District is transitioning to a very different model of education and community support as our world deals with the ever-changing situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Our initial focus is on ensuring staff and student safety while we develop plans to support Essential Support Workers, develop educational opportunities for our learners, and come together for families that may be in a vulnerable position.

Many of our schools have food programs that ensure our learners have full bellies and hungry minds. To ensure this crucial work continues, the District has joined the Cowichan Emergency Food Access Task Force, organized by Judy Stafford at the Cowichan Green Community. This coordinated body is preparing, packaging and distributing food in the community. As a District, we are proud to be a part of such a wonderful community, and grateful that our staff can contribute to the goals of this Task Force in a meaningful way.

“The continuation of these food programs during the pandemic is a top priority”, said Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education. “We know that there are families in our community who are under significant pressure because of this pandemic, we don’t want them to have one more thing to worry about.”

Working primarily with Nourish Cowichan, the Rotary Starfish Backpack program, and Shawnigan Lake School, over three dozen bags of food were distributed to students and families last week; this week 150 bags of food will be distributed. The District is dedicated to ensuring that as many families as possible are being served.

We would like to sincerely thank the community organizations who have always, and continue to, provide food to our students, families and community members.

A list of the Cowichan Emergency Food Access Task Force members is provided on Social Planning Cowichan’s website at:

http://www.socialplanningcowichan.org/covid-19-feeding-cowichan.html.

Each organization needs donations to continue to support the community with the identified food needs. If you are able, please donate and we thank you for your support!

 

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Date: March 27, 2020

Title: Essential Service Worker Childcare Survey

The Cowichan Valley School District is responding to our community and developing processes in how we can support our essential service workers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Childcare has been identified as a need in our community that we can help with. To guide this plan, and determine the childcare need in our community, a short survey has been created to explore where in our region assistance is needed and the number of children in a household requiring childcare.

If you have a childcare need, please take a moment to fill out this brief survey so we can better understand how to serve you.

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ESW79

Thank you,

 

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Date: March 25, 2020

Title: School District working Hard to Support the Community

COWICHANVALLEY, BC – Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District has made a statement on the continuation of educational opportunities in the Cowichan Valley School District.

The School District recognizes the very difficult time in our community that we are experiencing and is trying to assist in any way possible as we “step up to do our part” in the COVID19 emergency.

Our thoughts go out to any person affected by COVID19. We recognize the anxiety, stress and concern in your family, and we sincerely thank all those who are keeping our community safe, healthy, and supported.

We recognize the toll this situation is taking on everyone as we feel the effects of the rapid change to our economy and our uncertain economic future. We can only work day by day to accept the issues, manage the problems, and find solutions, knowing that in the end we will come through the emergency with our community intact.

The School District is working with community partners who have come together to support the needs in the community in collaboratives like the Community Food Task Force, the Community Homeless / Opioid Task Force and the Cowichan Leadership Group. Collectively and collaboratively we are all stronger.

The School District has developed five priorities to support our organization and our community:

  1. To ensure the health and safety of all Cowichan Valley School District staff and students
  2. To ensure business continuity of the organization
  3. To ensure supports for any learners and families who may be in a vulnerable situation
  4. To ensure childcare opportunities are available for those that may require it
  5. To ensure educational continuity for our learners

On behalf of the Board of Education for Cowichan Valley School District, I acknowledge that we are in difficult, challenging, and ever-changing times. The Board is dedicated to working to support our learners and our community in any way we can.

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Date: March 19, 2020
Title:  EDUCATION WILL CONTINUE IN THE COWICHAN VALLEY

COWICHAN VALLEY, BC – Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District has made a statement on the continuation of educational opportunities in the Cowichan Valley School District.

“The Cowichan Valley School District is currently preparing for educational continuity during the suspension of in-class instruction. Over the next few weeks district staff will be busy planning a path forward to best support our learners.

While education will look very different as the Cowichan Valley School District joins the provincial efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is important for our community to know that preparations are underway to provide educational opportunities for our learners as quickly as possible. These opportunities will not look the same as, or replace in-class instruction. Students and families who may be in vulnerable positions will continue to be supported, and students who are graduating will be provided special attention. Like many organizations in the region, the Board is helping to curve the spread of COVID-19 by allowing staff to work at home.

The Board thanks our first responders, medical staff, and community members who are guiding us through this period. We acknowledge that we are in very difficult, rapidly-changing, and uncharted times. It is through calm, careful, and responsible leadership that the Board of Education will ensure that the Cowichan Valley School District is there to support the community through these exceptional times.”

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