Cowichan Valley School District. (Submitted)

Cowichan Valley School District prepares to safely welcome back students

Statement issued by board of education chair

Like other districts around the province, the Cowichan Valley School District is preparing to welcome students back Monday after a one-week extension to the winter break.

Candace Spilsbury, the Cowichan Valley School District’s board of education chair, has issued the following statement on the staggered return to January classes:

“Over the winter break, the board of education has been monitoring the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Omicron variant of concern. On Wednesday, Dec. 29, the Ministry of Education and Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the staggered start to our return to school this January.

This staggered start is providing the time for our board and schools through the district to prepare to safely welcome all students back to full face-to-face instruction on January 10. Through every aspect of this pandemic we have always worked to ensure student and staff safety as we navigated the ever-changing landscape of this pandemic.

Over the next week, we will welcome back the children of essential workers and students who require additional supports for their educational journey. Our schools will be open and staffed on January 4 to ensure we are ready to welcome those students in. We will also ensure our transportation department is organized to transport these students. We are excited to see students back, and look forward to welcoming all the other students to school on January 10.

This staggered start will allow us to work at a school level to implement the updated health and safety guidelines as well as create continuity of learning plans. These guidelines will be built on the solid foundation of our current practice and we are constantly evaluating and adapting to the new information and process.

We have made significant investments in ventilation, hand washing stations, sanitizer, increased custodial cleaning and disposable masks for staff and students. Those investments have paid dividends and we will continue to ensure we invest in the health and safety of anyone who comes in our schools. A sure way to help those investments do their jobs is to not come to school if you are sick. The daily health self-assessment is the tool that, when used, can prevent COVID-19 from coming into our schools. Please ensure this assessment is done daily and help keep our schools safe and healthy.

Throughout this pandemic we have closely followed the provincial health and safety guidelines and have ensured our schools remained a safe place to be. Over the last year we have seen a significant difference in COVID-19 cases in our district between those that are vaccinated and those that were not yet of age. We know that vaccinations are the best protection from a COVID-19 infection and our best guard against serious symptoms if a breakthrough case does occur. We strongly encourage vaccinations for all eligible family members, including those who are between five and 11 years of age. Vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community. Thank you to those of you who have taken this important step.

We will be working hard next week to adapt these new health and safety guidelines to each of our unique schools and we look forward to welcoming all students back to school on January 10.”

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