COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

March 27, 2020 WILL BE UPDATED FREQUENTLY AS NEW INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE

The spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, is of increasing concern for School District 71 – Comox Valley Schools.
 
Responses to the following questions have been compiled in consultation with the Island Health Chief Medical Officer. If you have a question that is not on the list, please email communications@sd71.bc.ca
 
Thank you for your patience and understanding as this is an evolving situation with many implications.
 

FAQs – Students, Parent/Guardians, Public

1. What is Comox Valley Schools doing to make necessary preparation in case of a confirmed COVID-19 case?

The school district continues to work closely with Island Health and monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If a confirmed case should arise within our district, we will be notified by Island Health as soon as possible and will then take all the necessary steps to inform our school communities.

2. What can we as families, educators and students do to reduce the spread in our community?

We all play a role in reducing the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in our school district and community. We encourage everyone to practice good hygiene habits and follow directives set out by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), including:

 

Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Wash for 20 seconds, using soap and hot water. Be sure to also wash your fingertips.
 
Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your arm.
 
As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
 
If feeling sick or concerned you or a family member may have been exposed to the virus report immediately to a health care provided or call 8-1-1 (Healthlinks).
 
Self isolate for 14 days if you are experiencing symptoms related to the virus - dry cough, sore throat, fever, sneezing.
 
Practice social distancing (stay 6 feet apart from others).
 

3. If family member(s) experience symptoms related to COVID 19 (confirmed case or not), is self-isolation required?

Yes. If a member in your home has these symptoms you also must remain at home for 14 days. Once the self-isolation period is complete you can return to work. 
 

4. How do I know if I have contracted the virus?

The self-assessment tool is available online from the Island Health website at https://covid19.thrive.health. Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 signs and symptoms, including screening criteria, is available on the BCCDC website at www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19.
 
A dedicated phone service can provide British Columbians non-medical information about COVID-19. The service provides the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and resources from the provincial and federal governments. Service representatives can be reached seven days a week, from 7.30 a.m. to 8 p.m., by calling 1-888-COVID19 / 1-888-268-4319.
 

5. When will more information become available about continuation of education, graduation and final marks?

School administrators, District leaders and education partners are in constant and continuous communication with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to determine the way ahead including alternate service delivery methods of education. We will continue to communicate with you in the days and weeks to come.
 

6. Where can I get information on COVID-19?

Useful Links
 
Information about COVID-19, including advice and guidance to schools, is regularly updated on the BC Centre for Disease Control site: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID19_schools_childcare_guidelines.pdf 

 All joint statements from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix are posted here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health

 KIDS and COVID-19 QA: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)#For--schools--and--childcare

CBC Kids along with the PHO produced a kid-centric Q and A video about COVID-19: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/watch-coronavirus-facts-versus-fiction

 

 

Novel Coronavirus Q&A from HealthLinkBC: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/coronavirus
 

 

Government of Canada - Novel Coronavirus in China Travel Health Notice: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/travel-health-notices/210
 

7. Will students be at risk of not graduating?

Every student on track to graduate from Grade 12 will graduate. The only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. The MoE will ensure Grade 12 students who have not yet completed this assessment and who are otherwise eligible to graduate are able to meet this graduation requirement.
 

8. Will schools be cleaned during this break?

Yes, all school facilities will be thoroughly cleaned and, therefore, all staff and students must stay away from all buildings during the spring break period to allow the District maintenance team to complete the cleaning.
 

9. Can my child access the school to collect personal belongings?

During the spring break all schools are not to be accessed by anyone. Direction is forthcoming on how students can retrieve personal belongings. Please watch for information on how the process will be executed to enter schools while, at the same time, ensuring we all adhere to the current measures and directives issued by the PHO to keep school communities safe.
 

10. Will the Board office/school administrative offices be open?

The Board office is closed to the general public but fully staffed. Any one requiring assistance can call the switch board at 250-334-5500.
 

11. How can I stay up to date with information from the school district?

We encourage families to continue to check for updates from us through SchoolMessenger (app), the website (www.comoxvalleyschools.ca) and the District’s social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).
 

12. The municipalities have prohibited the use of play structures in public parks. Can school playgrounds be used.

All District school playgrounds are prohibited until further notice as an additional precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus in our community. Signage will be placed on school sites indicated the restriction during normal school hours and remain in effect outside of school hours in conjunction with the restrictions put in place by local municipalities.

FAQs – Staff            

The health and safety of our employees is paramount. All return to work plans will reflect safe work practices recommended by the public health officer.

13. UPDATED Are staff required to return to work after the spring break?

At this time, all staff will be required to return to work after spring break; however, that work will not be done in school buildings.  The details are being worked out and supervisors are the best point of contact. As new developments in the process of workign from home arise, details will be communicated to to all staff through school administrators.
 
Employees must refer to the Work From Home Guidelines and WorkSafeBC Requirements online and complete the mandatory questionnaire, if applicable. 
 

14. Are staff expected to continue to deliver education curriculums to students?

 As stipulated by the MoE, we need to plan for the long haul. This will not be a regular education program.  It is important that all our staff understand we are still providing a service to our community. We are fortunate in our school district to have dedicated staff and educational partners that will come together in the best interests of our students to provide a public education system that is focussed on ensuring student success during this difficult time.

15. The PHO (Public Health Officer) stated no mass gatherings of greater than 50. Is a school setting with the faculty back at work considered a gathering?

 When it comes to our daily work environments in building and schools this is not a gathering. As advised by the Island Health Medical Officer, it is important to operate on principles and not as much on hard numbers. Hard numbers such as limiting mass gatherings to a specific amount is helpful for meetings in close proximity. Social distancing of 6 feet is the best guideline to follow in the workplace.

16. How do I inform my employer that I am self isolating?

A new AMS code called Self Isolation has been created and is now active for all employee groups. It is an AMS leave with pay code to be used by staff self-isolating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

17. NEW I have heard rumours that a member of my school community has been exposed to the virus. What should I do?

As advised by the Chief Medical Officer for Island Health, we are all to assume that the COVID-19 virus is in our community. Where it is or who has been exposed to / tested positive for is irrelevant. The protocols in place to maintian social distancing, self regulate outdoor activity, self monitor for symptoms, and self isolate if you or a family member are experiencing symptoms or travelled outside of Canada are in place to help contain the virus and stop its spread. 

Our school district is in regular communication with our local medical health officer to ensure that these protocols that are in accordance with the guidelines provided by the PHO. Should a case be identified that is associated with a school community, Island Health will make contact with all impacted advising them of the potential of exposure and the requirement to get test and/or self quartantine as applicable.

FAQs – Stakeholder Groups

18.  What can I do to support the District in determining an alternative service delivery model for education while supporting our union workers?

As responsible partners in public education in the Comox Valley, we all have a role to play in providing the truth. Silence in the community and on social media is being filled with inaccuracies and, over time, will impact the trust and loyalty constituents will have in the school district. We ask first and foremost, to refrain from spreading information that is applicable in one District that may look entirely different in School District 71.

As you can expect, the situation is rapidly evolving and very fluid. What might be direction today may change tomorrow. The MoE and the District are working to formalize a plan for how things will look going forward and what education will look like over the coming weeks.

Island Health and the school district encourage the community to seek accurate, current and relevant information on the District website (www.comoxvalleyschools.ca) and on the Island Health website (https://www.islandhealth.ca/).

The BC Ministry of Education released a set of public-facing FAQs March 25. The document has been updated as of March 31 and can be found at this link. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/safe-caring-orderly/bc-ministry-of-education-questions-and-answers-continuity-of-learning-k-12-education_system.pdf

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