Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, has released the following statement regarding the first day of school:
“It is an exciting day for students as they return to classrooms around the province to begin the new school year. Teachers, principals and vice-principals, coaches and support staff are eager to welcome back their students.
“I want to say a special thank you to everyone – parents, teachers, education assistants, administrators, custodians, trustees, our education partners and Rights Holders – who worked so hard last year to support students to have access to in person learning, and to support those who could not attend in person.
“As students and staff return to school, we will apply the lessons learned from last year and keep the educational, social and emotional well-being of children as our principal focus. Ensuring students stay connected to their friends, supports and school community, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, is a crucial priority for all of us.
“As we begin this school year, we know we are in a much different situation than last year with the availability of vaccines that can protect us from COVID-19. If you are eligible and haven’t done so, please get your vaccine now.
“I want to assure you that our government has worked with teachers, school staff, district leadership, trustees and parents, in collaboration with our public health officers, to develop health and safety guidelines and measures that will keep school communities safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“These measures include:
- All staff from K-12, and all students from grades 4-12 are required to wear masks in school and on school buses. This includes visitors to schools.
- All school districts have been working to improve ventilation in every school, supported with $87.5 million in government funding. We are encouraging school districts to publicly communicate the work they have done in their schools to improve ventilation.
- Public health officials are working with districts to hold vaccination clinics in schools as part of the community-based vaccination effort.
- For example, Interior Health is working in partnership with school districts to provide at-school COVID-19 immunization clinics for returning students, staff and teachers throughout September.
- If an exposure has put your child at risk, you will be notified.
- Health authority school medical health officers will continue to work closely with local school districts and can enact further restrictions as necessary.
- Online learning options are available for students who are not able to return to the classroom.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are basing all our health and safety decisions on the best evidence and advice from our public health officials.
“We know students, families and school staff look forward to a safe and exciting school year, with the return of extracurricular activities in a safe environment.
“If you have not yet received your vaccination, now is the time. The best way to keep students and our school communities safe is to ensure our communities are highly vaccinated.
“Thank you to all who are working so hard to make sure that students have a safe and positive return to school.”