This section is full of useful links that have been approved by the School District as having accurate information about COVID-19.
(June) Restarting In-Class Instruction:
Please see the latest updates from 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 School District has to provide. We understand the uncertainty of these ever-changing times and are doing out best to keep our community informed.
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Letter to Families from Robyn Gray, Superintendent and Dr. Shannon Waters, Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley Region
‘Uy’ skweyul Parents, Guardians and Families,
As the District puts the finishing touches on the plans for a safe return to school for September, we want to reach out and let you know of the work that is being done in order to protect all learners, staff, families, and our community, as the school year gets underway.
The District has worked closely with Island Health to reduce risk in our school environments for our students and staff. That collective commitment remains the number one priority. Policies and procedures are in place to ensure every school is a clean and controlled environment. A controlled environment is one where we know who is coming and going from the buildings. This allows for protocols and routines to be well known and consistently applied by those interacting in the controlled environment. In uncontrolled environments, such as a store, an employee may have interactions with hundreds of unknown people throughout the day and they do not allow for this type of security for staff or patrons.
In addition to ensuring a controlled environment, new portable hand washing stations will be available at all schools. We know that regular hand washing with soap and water is the best way to avoid transmission of many illnesses, including COVID-19. These new stations will also be supplemented by hand sanitizer and strict school entry procedures.
New backpack-style electro-static cleaners were also purchased for District custodial teams. These cleaners increase both the effectiveness and speed at which cleaning can be done by helping regular disinfectant stick better to surfaces. These cleaners supplement the already in- depth deep cleaning and surface cleaning that has been, and continues to be, done at every school.
The District has also purchased reusable masks for every student and staff member to use. These masks will be available at each school at the start of the year. If a child or staff member does not have one, or forgets their reusable mask, we will have an additional supply of disposable masks. The wearing of masks is required in areas where students are outside of their learning group or in a shared space where physical distancing is not possible (such as a hallway). Other mask use in schools remains a personal decision, and we encourage students and staff to use them as a quality choice.
On September 8th, school staff will be coming together to review the enhanced health and safety procedures, meet with the school-based health and safety teams, and finalize plans for the days and weeks ahead. Student learning is at the centre of this planning, and school health and safety protocols will be shared and reviewed by all learning groups. This will ensure a smooth transition back for students.
The District and Island Health are working to reduce risk in school environments and we are asking parents, caregivers, and families to do their part as well. Ensure a Daily Health Assessment is done, keep your children home from school if they are sick, practice physical distancing, continue regular hand washing and other hygiene measures, and respect the policies and procedures for safe building access, including parent access only by appointment.
The above procedures, coupled with classroom etiquette of no food or item sharing, ensuring reusable food items are taken home, and reminding students to remain in their learning group, will help lessen the possibility of transmission of many illnesses, including COVID-19.
If we all continue to work together, and show respect to our students, staff, and community by following the public health advice and procedures, we can reduce our risks in the school year ahead. This year more than ever, your children need us all to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.
Huy tseep q’u (thank you all)
Cowichan Valley School District
Shannon Waters, MD, MHSc, FRCPC Medical Health Officer
Cowichan Valley Region
We acknowledge that for thousands of years the Malahat, Lake Cowichan, Quw’utsun, Halalt, Penelakut, Stz’uminus, & Lyackson Peoples have walked gently on the unceded territories where we now live, work, and play. We are committed to ensuring a healthy educational environment for our xe’xe’smun’eem, our sacred children, that is based on science and inclusive of traditional knowledge and history.
Date: August 14, 2020
‘Uy’ skweyul (good day) parents, guardians, and families,
Our District has been hard at work planning for the safe return of students and staff since my last letter to you. We have been meeting with our Principals and Vice Principals, our union partners, and our local Medical Health Officer and her team. We will be discussing our draft plans with Indigenous communities, District Parent Advisory Council, and our District Student Advisory Council as they develop. We want to ensure a quality plan, that is reflective of all of voices, is ready to roll out for September.
The provincial government has established the Return to School Plan and have advised that all schools in the province will return to Stage 2 of that plan for September. Within Stage 2 there is flexibility for us to localize the plan.
That flexibility will allow us to adjust how our first week back will look. We will welcome all staff back to schools on September 8th which will allow them time to come together and adjust to the enhanced health and safety procedures, meet with the school-based health and safety teams, and finalize planning for the weeks and months ahead before welcoming students back. Students will be welcomed back by September 10th and will be orientated to the new health and safety procedures. It is important to remember that school start, and the school year, will not look like it did in past years. We will work our hardest to ensure that the transition is safe and smooth for everyone while creating options for schooling no matter the personal or family circumstance.
One of the main tenants of the new school year plan is the cohort, or learning group, model. The cohort model allows us to ensure we keep our students and staff safe as they come back to school. It is important to remember that the cohort numbers given by the province, 60 for elementary and middle school and 120 for high schools, are maximums. Many of our schools will keep cohorts even lower.
There are still many questions that are yet to be answered, and not having answers may cause you and your family stress and anxiety. As part of our planning, our team is actively exploring opportunities and options that have been proposed to us. It is important to look at each of these opportunities and make sure they will work for everyone while keeping safety at the forefront.
The plan will be sent to you as soon as it’s reviewed by the Ministry of Education. It will also live on our website and social media channels. This will be done by August 26th at the latest.
Until that time, please rest assured that teachers, principals, parents, and administrators all want the same thing, a safe school year.
Huy tseep q’u (thank you all)
Robyn Gray, Superintendent of the Cowichan Valley School District.
Date: May 22, 2020
Good day parents, guardians, and families,
Staff across our District have been hard at work this past week since Premier Horgan’s announcement that in-class instruction will resume on a voluntary, part-time, basis on June 1st. We recognize that the announcement from the Premier may have been met with a mix of emotions and thoughts from families around BC. We acknowledge that the decision to come back to school or not is a difficult decision for many of you.
No matter what decision your family makes, our District will support you. While we know that resuming in-class instruction will take a large portion of our teacher’s time, we are still committed to providing great educational opportunities to those who choose to stay close to home. It’s important to note that these home-based educational opportunities may look different than the last five weeks.
Schools are safe to open and we are excited to welcome those of you who are choosing to come back on June 1st. We received a number of new Health and Safety protocols from Dr. Bonnie Henry’s office, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and WorkSafeBC. Across the province all districts are ensuring that we are adhering to all of these new procedures, and our District is no exception to this. Our custodians have worked hard to implement the new cleaning and safety protocols. We know it is safe to bring our learners back to school.
There are specific things that you will be asked to do prior to sending your child(ren) to school. Each day monitor your child(ren) for symptoms of illness. If your child displays any symptoms of any illness, they will not be allowed at school. In addition, please remind your child to maintain physical distancing where possible. There will be more health and safety information shared with you through your school.
Next week, each school will be working on localizing stage three of BC’s Education Restart plan which will include health and safety procedures and learning plans. We will be welcoming K-5 students back for approximately 50% of in-class time, and grade 6-12 students for approximately 20%. Children who need supports, and the children of Essential Service Workers, have the option of schooling five days a week. These school-based plans will follow a number of guidelines that will include having students attend on consecutive days, ensuring children of the same family are scheduled together (K-5), and trying to keep friends together as much as possible.
It’s our priority to ensure everyone who wants to come to school on June 1st can. The recommendations from the BC Centre of Disease Control prefers that families drive their own child(ren) to school in their own personal vehicle. Should that not be possible, we will ensure each registered student has a space on the bus if needed. Please take the time to read and respond to the Transportation Department’s email from Thursday, May 21.
As a District we thank all of you for your flexibility and understanding as we navigate this new path together.
With kind regard,
Robyn Gray, Superintendent
Date: April 9, 2020
Title: Learning Opportunities for our Students
Good day parents, caregivers, and families,
During this difficult and unprecedented time, the District would like to extend our gratitude to all families for their patience as we work towards formalizing our continuity of learning for your children. This last week has seen our teachers reach out and start to provide educational opportunities that:
- Support the social-emotional well-being of our learners
- Create connections with students and families
- Recognize individual student needs
- And focus on literacy, numeracy, and real-life skills
Parents should expect the following from their teachers:
- 2 – 3 connections per week with students
- 2 – 5 hours of learning opportunities per week, per student
As learning is occurring at home we want to ensure we do not overwhelm students and families. We recognize these are difficult and unfamiliar times and we want to ensure schooling is a support for your family, not an added stress.
We continue to work on a technology plan that will support all of our students in the District. For those of you who would like to see what supported technology tools we are using, please see the Supported Technology Tools document on this page. For those families who may need additional hardware for any learning, the District is planning on how to serve you on a case-by-case basis. Your teacher or principal will be in contact in the near future.
In addition to these educational opportunities, the District has gathered a list of information and resources that can be found on our website. This list includes updates from the Board of Education, Ministry of Education, and District resources. Also included are District and Community Support Resources where you can find information food programs, financial tool information, and resources for emotional and family support. All of those resources can be found here.
If you are looking for more information, we do have a formal Continuity of Learning Plan on our website. That document can be found under District Resources here.
If you follow that link it also has our detailed plan on how we are supporting our learners with diverse needs, our approved technology plan, and tips on how to keep yourself safe when using those new, and sometimes unfamiliar, tools.
If there are questions that you have, or need assistance with educational opportunities or other supports, please reach out to your school principal. Thank you again for your understanding and patience as we journey together through this uncharted time.
Robyn Gray, Superintendent
Date: March 25, 2020
Title: District update on the week of March 30 to April 3
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Families,
The last number of weeks have presented all of us with difficult challenges as we navigate the rapid, and ever-changing, situation regarding COVID-19 in our community and around the world. As a District we are working our hardest to ensure that your learners and community are well supported and we greatly appreciate your patience, support, and understanding as we work on how services and supports will be provided to learners and communities.
To focus this important work, our District has developed five principles to guide our work. Those are:
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
To this end, our immediate focus is on supporting our community around ensuring basic needs are being met and organizing childcare supports for our Essential Service Workers who continue to serve our community in this challenging time.
We appreciate that many of you are also wondering about your child’s education. Rest assured that we are working on plans for how ongoing learning opportunities can be provided to students. We recognize though, that we are in unprecedented times, and these learning opportunities will not look like, or replace, traditional in-class instruction. You can expect to hear more about this in the coming weeks.
In the interim, the District will be providing a list of resources for Primary, Intermediate, and Secondary students to access, therefore teachers will be in contact with families next week. While these resources are being developed, our District Learning Commons has curated a wonderful list of resources to explore. Those resources can all be found HERE.
Secondary schools will work with the grade 12 students to complete their requirements for graduation. For all grade 10 – 12 students, your school will be in contact with you to start planning for the coming weeks.
Everyone will work collaboratively to ensure that the best educational decisions are made for each student regarding their transitions to the next grade level.
We know this is not a perfect situation, but for the time being, this is our new reality. We want to express our gratitude and appreciation for the work you are doing and the efforts you continue to put into your child’s success.
We recognize the challenges our families and community are facing, we know as a District and community that we will get through this together.
Robyn Gray, Superintendent
Date: March 23, 2020
Title: All School Playgrounds Closed
The Cowichan Valley School District is actively working to reduce the exposure and transmission of the COVID-19 virus. In coordination with municipal and regional partners, the District has decided to close all school playgrounds effective immediately.
Signage will be posted at prominent locations at every school within the district, and staff are asking parents, students, and community members to respect the temporary closure.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation at this time as we prioritize everyone’s health and safety.
Date: March 20, 2020
Title: District Update on the Week of March 23-27
Letter to: All Parents, Caregivers, and Guardians of the Cowichan Valley School District
As COVID-19 continues to change the way in which we spend our time and socially interact throughout our community, we want to support our community in any way possible. To that end, our staff have been working closely with our regional partners and community organizations to ensure a thoughtful, consistent, and cohesive response to this pandemic.
Over the last week our District Leadership Team has been working to respond to these ever-changing times by ensuring our business and core operations can continue to function. During the week of March 23-27, we will continue to develop educational opportunities that will serve you and your families. This means that there will be no educational updates until later in the coming week.
Principals and Vice Principals, with input from their teachers, will be creating these educational continuity plans, that we will roll out in the coming weeks. It is important to know however, that these opportunities will not look like, or replace, traditional in-class instruction.
In keeping with the Provincial Health Officer’s expectations, we will have enhanced custodial services in our schools through March 23-27, as well as initiating health and safety protocols designed to support our staff, students, and families. Therefore, schools will only be accessible to Principals, Vice-Principals, and District staff.
We know these are exceptional and difficult times and we are doing our best to ensure you and your family are supported every way we can. If you have any questions, please contact your Principal or Vice-Principal.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work as a community during these very challenging times.
Date: March 17, 2020
Title: Email Update to Parents
Good day everyone,
With the Premier and Minister of Education announcing today that all in-class K-12 instruction is suspended for the foreseeable future throughout BC, we wanted to update you on what is happening throughout the District.
The District Senior Leadership and educational teams are continuing to plan for providing educational services to our Cowichan Valley School District learners. Although this planning is underway, we realize that a fundamental shift in our educational delivery model will take time. Many of our staff were caught out of the country when the travel advisories and recommendations for self-isolation were first announced. Most of those staff are back with us now, but will be following the request by the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Henry to self-isolate. Therefore, the staff who will be helping put these detailed educational opportunities together will not be ready for a number of weeks. It’s important to recognize that these opportunities will not look the same as, or replace, traditional in-class instruction.
By practicing social distancing (staying at least 2 meters away from anyone else if you leave your house), and practicing good hand washing hygiene, we can do our parts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and let us return to our regular routine sooner.
Thank you again for supporting the health of our community, and for your willingness to be flexible in these trying circumstances.
You can see the full statement from the Minister here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/program-management/safe-caring-and-orderly-schools
Date: March 6, 2020
Title: International Travel Over Spring Break
Letter to: All Parents, Caregivers and Families of the Cowichan Valley School District
Spring vacation is just around the corner and we know that many of you take this opportunity to travel and experience new things throughout the district closure week and spring break week. As the world deals with the rapidly changing situation around the spread of COVID-19, we wanted to take a moment and address our procedures for anyone, staff or students and families, who are travelling out of country.
We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and adhering to the recommendations of our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Ministries of Health and Education and the Government of Canada.
If your travel plans include any of the countries which currently have a ‘Level 3’ travel health notice from the Government of Canada (China, Iran, Italy) we will be reinforcing the recommendation of the 14-day self-isolation and ask that you not come to school. We will do our best to ensure that support or materials can be provided to you or your family if this is the situation.
If your travel plans include any of the countries which currently have a ‘Level 2’ travel health notice from the Government of Canada (Japan or South Korea) we will be reinforcing the recommendations of 14-day self-monitoring upon your return. This monitoring includes watching for signs of cough, fever, or difficulty breathing. If you notice these, you are asked to stay home from school and call your health care provider.
As this situation is rapidly changing there may be other countries added to ‘Level 2’ or ‘Level 3’ travel health notices, additional recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer, or more overall information on COVID-19. We ask that you continue to monitor the travel health advisories over the holidays if you are travelling. We hope that you will be in conversation with your principals regarding your travel plans in order for us to ensure the safety of all our students and support you, or your families, if a need arises.
As a school community we are adjusting the cleaning of our schools as recommended and will continue to teach and reinforce good handwashing and respiratory etiquette as classes resume after the break. Please continue to do your part and reinforce this behaviour during this time off.
I have included a list of resources below for you to help with your monitoring of this ongoing situation.
Thank you for your time and understanding,
Cowichan Valley School District
Government of Canada Travel Health Notices:
Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories:
Kids and COVID-19 a resource:
CBC Kids and Provincial Health Officer video on COVID-19:
BC Centre for Disease Control COVID-19:
COVID-19 Q&A from HealthLinkBC: