COVID-19 safe schools – Province of British Columbia

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Last updated: August 25, 2022

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Preventive measures

Preventive measures are taken to reduce the spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19. This includes effective personal practices such as health awareness, staying home when sick, and regular hand hygiene. All students and staff must:

Online and homeschooling programs remain available for students.

Health awareness

Health awareness reduces the likelihood that someone will come to school when they are sick. This includes checking for symptoms of illness regularly to make sure you or your child do not come to school sick.

Students, staff and other adults should follow public health guidelines and recommendations from their health care providers when they are sick. Health information is also available from Healthlink BC or by calling 8-1-1.

Face mask

The decision to wear a mask or face covering is everyone’s personal choice. People can choose to continue wearing the mask throughout the day or during certain activities. This option will supported and treated with respect.

infectious disease guidelines

The Provincial Infectious Disease Guidelines for K-12 School Arrangements were developed by the Ministry of Education and Child Care, in collaboration with the BC Center for Disease Control (BCCDC), customary rights holders and education partners, including teachers, parents, and school leaders.

These guidelines are based on public health guidelines, and are used by boards of education, independent school authorities, and schools to support communicable disease prevention plans.

Ventilation

The school district will ensure that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained according to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards.

Expert guidance is being implemented to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Cleaning and disinfecting schools

Regular cleaning and disinfection can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. General cleaning of the school will be carried out regularly, with high-touch surfaces cleaned more frequently (eg once every 24 hour period) and when visibly soiled.


Infectious disease protocol

Sick students and staff at school

If a student or staff member develops symptoms at school:

  • Schools will provide masks to those who are sick and people helping them
  • Schools will have areas where people are separated from their classmates or colleagues and can wait in comfort
  • Younger children will be supervised while being separated
  • Parents or guardians of students will be contacted and asked to pick up their children as soon as possible
  • Staff will be asked to leave as soon as possible
  • Custodial staff will clean and disinfect the area the person is using
  • The person should stay home and follow public health advice about when to return to activities. Most people can return to school when their symptoms have improved and they feel well enough to participate in regular activities.

Infectious disease activity in schools

Infectious diseases, including COVID-19, will continue to circulate. As long as cases occur in our community, K to12 students and staff members will continue to be affected. Schools will contact public health if they are concerned about transmission of an infectious disease within the school and need additional support.

Public health order

Public health orders can apply to provinces, entire regions or specific communities. This can include schools, or specific settings or activities.

Public health orders are implemented at the discretion of the local Medical Health Officer or Provincial Health Officer in response to the risk of wider transmission of communicable diseases in the community.


Inside and outside the classroom

School visitors

All visitors to school grounds, including community groups, must follow school-communicable disease prevention measures, including staying home when sick. After-hours use of school facilities is determined by the school district, independent school authority, or school.

Music, physical education, sports, clubs and extracurricular activities

All music and physical education programs, sports, clubs and extracurricular activities are welcome.

Students should be encouraged to:

  • Clean their hands before and after using shared equipment
  • Do not share items that come in contact with your mouth, such as mouthpieces or water bottles, unless cleaned and disinfected between uses
  • Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing

Meetings, gatherings and events

School gatherings, gatherings and events can occur.


Added support for students

Indigenous students

The ministry fully respects the jurisdiction of First Nations and their right to make their own decisions regarding First Nations schools. Visit the First Nations Schools Association website for the latest updates.

International students

International students arriving at or returning to BC are required to follow federal COVID-19 travel guidelines.


Mental health

As a result of the pandemic, we know that students, educators, staff and administrators are living with anxiety, stress and other mental health needs. The K to 12 sector continues to use an inclusive and trauma-informed lens, with a focus on mental health and wellness.

The Province of BC is investing an additional $5 million in 2021/22 to support mental health services for students and staff. These funds allow schools to expand existing programs and introduce new support to meet the mental health needs of students and staff.

In spring 2021, a mental health working group was formed with representatives from the BC Confederation of Parental Advisory Councils (BCCPAC), primary care, government, Indigenous educators and rights holders, administrative groups and unions, and other stakeholders in education. The working group outlines key principles and resources developed to ensure the mental health needs of students and staff are met.

Resources for students and staff


Education programs

In-class instructions

There is no substitute for in-class instruction. It provides students with face-to-face teacher-led learning, peer involvement, supports social and emotional development and reduces feelings of isolation.

The school also gives many students access to support they cannot get at home and is an integral part of their overall health.

Online learning

Public and independent online learning schools offer online classes. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 7 must take the full course load at one school, while students in Grades 8 through 12 can study entirely from home, or study at school and take some courses online.

There are 48 school districts with 53 public schools that offer online learning courses. Independent online learning schools also offer courses and programs.

Homeschooling

Homeschooling is usually led by family members who provide educational programs to children at home.

Notes: Homeschoolers are not eligible to receive a British Columbia Dogwood Certificate of Completion.

Home education

If you have a child who is immunocompromised or has a serious medical condition, you may be able to access a homebound program. Contact your local school district for more information.


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