February 28, 2020
Subject: COVID-19 Update
All school districts in the province recently received guidance from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control regarding recommended measures for preventing and controlling respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, in schools and childcare settings. We are writing to provide you with a summary of these recommendations, to tell you how they are being implemented in our school district, and to let you know what steps you can take at home.
We are working closely with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health to monitor the situation, and will continue to update our community when we receive information. We are prepared to minimize the impact of respiratory viruses in our schools as per the direction of these government partners.
There are two important ways to prevent and control respiratory viruses in school settings:
The first is for students and staff who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) to stay home from school. If your child is not feeling well, we ask that you keep them home so that they can rest and recover. As always, remember to inform the school of the absence.
The second way to prevent and control respiratory viruses is the consistent practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and water, which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses.
Children in the school setting should clean their hands:
- Before leaving home and on arrival at school.
- After using the toilet.
- After breaks and sporting activities.
- Before food preparation,
- Before eating any food, including snacks.
- Before leaving school.
If you have a younger child, support them at home by supervising and assisting in hand hygiene. In schools, this supervision will be provided by staff. We are enhancing our communication to students about handwashing, sneeze/cough etiquette and preventing illness – including new signage at sites around the school district.
REMINDER: Masks are not necessary for people who are not experiencing symptoms. In children in particular, masks can be irritating and may increase touching of the face and eyes, which increases the risk of infection. Children who have symptoms should be kept home from school rather than relying on masks.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces (e.g., door handles, water fountain push buttons) helps prevent the transmission of viruses. Our school district has implemented enhanced daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces at all of our school sites.
Band instruments will soon be arriving at elementary schools for any interested students in grades 3-6 to try out. Increased disinfecting measures are being taken to prevent the spread of illness through instrument use.
Students should not be sharing food, utensils, dishes, and water bottles or drink containers. Although this practice is important for preventing exposures to allergens, it is equally important in reducing virus transmission between children.
A new virus such as the COVID-19 can create anxiety and be difficult for students/children to understand, especially if someone in their school or family is sick, or they see or hear troubling messages on the radio, internet or television. It is normal for children to feel worried and nervous and have questions.
Support your children by reassuring them about their personal safety and health:
- Limit their access to news and online stories about the issue.
- Maintain a normal routine unless otherwise advised by an authority.
- Encourage them to talk to you about their concerns.
- Reassure them they are safe.
- Advise them of steps they can take to stay healthy:
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Cough and sneeze into arm or tissue.
- Stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Keep hands away from face and mouth.
- Stay healthy by eating healthy foods, keeping physically active, and getting enough sleep.
There are school trips scheduled over the coming months to international destinations. We are monitoring the situation and we will provide any necessary updates.
Thank you for your co-operation. We will continue to update our community moving forward.
Please click HERE to read Frequently Asked Questions on New Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Children and Students from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.