RCS HEALTH AND SAFETY PLAN

Richmond Christian School – Communicable Diseases Protocols

January 10, 2022 (Updates in blue)

The Government of BC and the Ministry of Education have communicated to all BC schools (public and independent), new guidelines for full-time, in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. RCS has updated our Health and Safety Policy (formerly known as COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy) specific to communicable diseases to accommodate many of the changes as they relate to our context.

Please take careful note of the safety requirements that were communicated by the province in the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K – 12 Settings. This is the latest update as of October 1, 2021.

Schools will adjust their guidelines as required by the PHO.

Returning from Travel Outside of Canada

  • Any person who has been outside of Canada prior to the start of school, or at any point in the school year, must adhere to federal regulations regarding self-isolation/quarantine periods prior to returning to school.
  • Daily attendance records and class lists are maintained
  • Guests/parents/caregivers must sign in if entering the building
  • Parents/caregivers/guests:  Visitors and parents are not permitted to enter the school unless the visitor is providing an essential service for students.

Displaying Symptoms of COVID-19 and Daily Health Checks

  • Parents/caregivers, please complete the daily health check with your child/teen before they arrive at school each day. You do not need to inform the school that you have completed the daily health check.
  • Staff will conduct a personal daily health check before starting their day at school.
  • When students are showing COVID-19 symptoms while at school, the student will be brought to a safe place that is separated from other students, assessed, supervised, and cared for by staff; parents/guardians will be contacted for pickup.
  • With the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, Public Health has now shifted their protocols to a self-management strategy. If you are showing symptoms of Covid, stay home and self-isolate for 5 days if you are fully vaccinated, 10 days if you are not fully vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated a COVID test is not recommended. Call 811 for further guidance.
  • Do not return to school until you have completed self-isolation protocols and are feeling better.
  • If you do an At-Home Rapid test please report a positive test to public health.
  • When notifying the school of an absence specify that the absence is illness related. As supported by public health, students and staff do not need to disclose if their absence is specific to COVID-19, however those who test positive for COVID-19 should be diligent in ensuring their school is aware their absence is illness-related.
  • Continue to follow public health guidance and recommendations.
  • Students or staff may still attend school if a member of their household has cold, influenza, or Covid-19 like symptoms provided the student/staff is symptom-free and the household member has confirmed that they do not have Covid-19.
  • Students and staff who experience seasonal allergies or other COVID-19-like symptoms that are related to an existing condition can continue to attend school when they are experiencing these symptoms as normal. If they experience any change in symptoms, they should seek assessment by a health-care provider.

What is Different – Management of School-Associated COVID-19 Activity

Public health can no longer keep up with contact tracing as the transmission of the Omicron variant is very rapid and the incubation period is short.

As such, public health management practices (including guidance for K-12 school-associated COVID-19 activity) have transitioned to individual self-management (i.e., individuals care for themselves, engaging with health care providers when needed), with public health focused on identifying and responding to larger clusters and outbreaks.

Functional Closures

A functional closure is the temporary closure of a school determined by the school due to a lack of staff to provide the required level of teaching, supervision, support, and/or custodial to ensure the health and safety of students. This would likely be due to a high number of staff away who are required for the school to function and the inability to temporarily replace them.

If a functional closure occurs in a particular class, campus or the whole school, parents will be notified that the class, campus, or whole school will move to temporary off-site learning for a period of time.

Vaccines

  • According to Public Health and the BCCDC, vaccines are the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in schools and communities.
  • RCS does not track who has been vaccinated nor mandate vaccination for staff or students.
  • Based on data collected throughout the pandemic, the Provincial Health Officer has determined that schools are not “high risk” environments and has not mandated vaccines for school staff.
  • Public Health strongly encourages all eligible students and staff to be fully vaccinated (i.e., receive 2 doses) against COVID-19, and to get a Booster when eligible to protect themselves and those around them, including those who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

Public Health reports that people who are not vaccinated are at higher risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, with age the greatest factor of individual risk of severe illness. Most COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are now among unvaccinated adults.

Government guidelines CONTINUE

  • Hand hygiene requirement continues
  • Stay-at-home-if-sick requirement continues
  • Mask requirement for all staff indoors including on buses continues
  • Mask requirement for all visitors indoors including on buses continues
  • Mask requirement for ALL students, staff and visitors including on buses continues
  • Proper fit is a key factor in mask effectiveness. Masks worn at school should fit well.
  • Parents must complete a health check daily before sending their child to school
  • Staff and visitors must complete a self-health check daily prior to entering the school
  • Continued enhanced cleaning
  • No Visitors in schools except for essential services for student learning or school maintenance
  • School gatherings and events will be virtual
  • Sports practices and games can continue but no spectators allowed including parents, staff and students who are not involved
  • Sports tournaments are paused
  • Learning spaces are arranged to maximize the space available and to avoid people directly facing one another
  • Staff gatherings- staff meetings, Pro-D etc will occur virtually
  • We will continue to structure student movement to avoid high levels of congestion. For example, at the Secondary Campus, specific entrance and exits will be assigned
  • Vaccinations for all eligible staff, students, parents, and visitors is encouraged but not required, or discriminated against.

Government guidelines that have CHANGED

  • No cohorts/learning groups
  • Respecting personal physical space replaces the 2-meters-apart requirement

Exceptions for the Mask Requirement

Quoted from the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K – 12 Settings:

The guidance outlined above regarding mask requirements does not apply to staff, students, and visitors in the following circumstances:

  • to a person who cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons;
  • to a person who is unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
  • if the mask is removed temporarily for the purposes of identifying the person wearing it;
  • if the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (e.g. playing a wind instrument, engaging in high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
  • if a person is eating or drinking;
  • if a person is behind a barrier; or
  • while providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (including but not limited to a hearing impairment) where visual cues, facial expressions and/or lip reading/movements is important.”