Dear VTT Families,
I’d like to begin by thanking you for your support and patience throughout the last several weeks and months. We know that there is a lot of uncertainty, but what is certain is how much we value our community and we appreciate your words of encouragement and trust as we move forward into Stage 2 together. The plans below are still under review by the Ministry of Education along with all of the other independent schools in the province, but we wanted to reach out to share with you what we are hoping September will look like based on the restart plans we submitted.
Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe
As we bring the VTT community back to school, it is important to recognize that we are entering yet another chapter in this challenging time. Although this may be our new normal, we recognize how difficult this has been for our families and that everyone has individual concerns based on their own personal home situation. As a community, I ask that we focus on supporting one another through the hurdles that lie in front of us and not pass judgment on the decisions we make as community members and parents. We ask that our VTT family remembers to be kind even in moments of fear and confusion as this is at the core of our Jewish values and what will keep our community strong throughout the coming months.
Our policies and procedures are based on the best guidance and information we have available today, that guidance and information is constantly evolving and we will look to respond and change our policies and procedures where necessary to address those changes. Policies and procedures might change and we need to be ready and patient throughout.
What is the school’s illness policy?
VTT has a zero illness policy at this time. Parents are asked to keep their children home if they have any signs of illness. If a child appears sick at school, the parent will be asked to immediately pick up their child. VTT will work with the parents by using the tools available to determine the next appropriate course of action. Parents will be encouraged to contact their health care provider for guidance and to use BC’s Self Assessment Tool or 8-1-1 to determine when it is safe for the child to return to school.
Mandatory Health Screen
Before attending school every day, parents/caregivers are expected to screen their child for illness. All parents are expected to screen their children on a daily basis and to electronically affirm they have read our health screen protocols. This is a responsibility that is one of the most important measures we can take as a community to protect others from getting sick. It is part of our mutual covenant to protect one another.
Keeping School Informed
You, our parents, are our key partners in helping us to succeed in keeping our community safe. We ask that you keep us informed if you know of any COVID-19 related illness or possible illness that may impact the school community. These open and transparent lines of communication will help us to ensure that everyone stays healthy. Any communications with the school will of course be confidential.
What is public health’s role?
Public health is responsible for enforcement and notification with regards to COVID-19. We remain dedicated to following their guidelines and working in partnership with our medical advisory committee and medical consultant to create protocols that serve to protect the health and safety of our staff and students.
Does my child need to wear a mask at school?
We know that there are many mixed messages about masks and this makes it even more challenging for parents to know what the right thing to do is. After consulting with our medical advisory committee, including the lead pediatrician of Vancouver Coastal Health and, in concert with public health’s guidelines, we will be following the mask protocols below:
Students in this age group will not be required to wear a mask as per the recommendations received from public health. Should parents wish to send a mask with their child, please know that teachers will not be able to mandate its use or ensure that it is properly worn.
All students will be receiving a reusable mask to be placed in a convenient location in the classroom. Parents are welcome to send more masks should they choose to do so. Public health has stated the following: “non-medical masks are not recommended for elementary school students due to the increased likelihood they will touch their face and eyes, as well as require assistance to properly put on and take off their mask.”
We know that donning a mask is something that we do to protect those around us, but our medical experts have advised us that we should be careful about introducing a policy that may increase the risk of exposure to our younger students. Given this, students in SK - 3 will only be asked to wear a mask in situations where prolonged physical distancing is not possible. However, parents are invited to encourage their children to wear masks beyond this. Our teachers will not be able to enforce mask wearing at this age, but they will give your children gentle reminders and support at appropriate times.
Grade 4 to 7
All students will receive a reusable mask to keep on their person. As per public health’s mandate, “Students in Middle and Secondary school are required to wear non-medical masks in high traffic areas such as buses and in common areas such as hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.” (Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines)
Therefore, at VTT, students in Grades 4-7 will be required to wear masks whenever they exit their classrooms. This will include high traffic areas, such as the art and drama room, but HPE (i.e., physical education) teachers and others who are able to use more open spaces will be able to lift this restriction at their discretion, while maintaining physical distancing.
Staff will wear masks when not with their cohorts and whenever they are in high traffic areas. They are not required to wear their masks outside. Certain members of our staff will not have a particular cohort, such as our leadership team and certain specialists, so they will wear a mask at all times when working with students if physical distancing is not an option.
Teachers will be working with students to ensure that the above policies are adhered to and that we all treat these protocols as a mutual covenant to protect the health and safety of our larger family.
If parents are not allowed in the building, how will pick up and drop off work?
Parents will not be permitted inside VTT unless there is an urgent requirement for them to enter the building and arrangements have been made in advance.
Families will be assigned a window of time between 8:15-8:35 to drop off their child(ren). Early childhood to SK students (along with their older siblings) will be dropped off at the 26th Avenue entrance and will proceed to class with an awaiting teacher (Rishonim - SK). Grade 1-7 students should be dropped off in the parkade (unless they have a sibling in EC-SK).
VTT has invested in an app that will help our pick up run smoothly for all families who choose to drive to school. Geolocation markers have been set around the school and parents will be able to ping the school when they approach VTT. Their child will then be notified in their classroom to proceed to their assigned exit. More information about the PikMyKid App and pick up and drop off details will be forthcoming.
How do I avoid the line ups at pick up and drop off?
Most of us don’t have the luxury of spare time. If you want to skip the line up, we encourage our families to consider walking to school or riding their bikes. We currently have two bike racks for students to lock their bikes: at the 26th Avenue entrance and inside the playground. We plan to install one more to encourage our families to use this convenient form of transport.
What will my child’s cohort look like?
In most cases, with exception to Early Childhood to Grade 1, your child’s cohort will consist of their grade level and the associated core subject teachers of that grade level totaling no more than 60 students and staff. In Grades 1 and below, a student’s class will generally be their cohort (e.g.,. SK1 will be one cohort and SK2 will be another). Cohorts are asked to maintain physical distance (2 m) from one another when inside the building and to minimize physical contact within their cohorts. When outside, cohorts will focus on minimizing physical distance.
What has VTT done regarding improved ventilation in the building?
Over the summer, we have been reviewing our HVAC systems, including confirmation that our air filtration is at an appropriate MERV minimum efficiency rating value.
- increasing percentage of outdoor air for each air handling unit to 100%;
- modifying daily settings on units so that fresh outdoor air will be delivered into all school buildings several hours prior to occupancy;
- ensured optimal performance of all exhaust systems;
- continuing to ensure all washroom and classroom windows remain open during the day, weather permitting, to keep fresh air levels high.
How has VTT changed recess and lunch?
We have extended recesses by 5 minutes in order to do a controlled dismissal of grades to their assigned recess locations. This will minimize contact between cohorts and, once at their assigned location, cohorts will socialize with one another rather than across cohorts in most cases.
Students will be eating lunch in their classrooms with exception to 1-2 grades who will eat in a common area that only they use. This will allow for students to be supervised in smaller group settings and avoid the sharing of our dining hall with multiple students and cohorts.
What are VTT’s sanitizing & hygiene protocols?
VTT will be doing a deep clean every night and will ensure we have the custodial staff to clean high touch surfaces twice daily.
All students and staff will sanitize their hands each time they enter and exit the building and their classroom. “Sanitize in, Sanitize out” is our new motto.
Will my child be able to access remote learning?
In Stage 2, it is the expectation of the Ministry of Education that BC schools implement in-school instruction for their students. Although some public schools have been offered an exemption to this and are offering a remote option, we are not licensed at present to offer a remote option to our families.
However, we remain committed to supporting our students if they are absent on a short-term basis or immunocompromised. Using some of the methods we have already become accustomed to, such as Google Classroom, students will be able to keep up with their learning and remain connected to their teachers and school work. After notifying the main office of your child’s absence as per school policy, we ask that parents connect with their child’s teachers directly to plan for their absence.
When required by the ministry, VTT was successfully able to pivot to a successful online program in a short period of time. At this stage, VTT is fully focused and prepared to deliver in-class instruction for all our students. Should the need arise, we are also prepared to adapt and offer a portion of remote learning if a shift to Stage 3, 4, or 5 be required during the year.
Town Hall Meeting September 1st @ 3:30
Our parent community is invited to join me for a virtual Town Hall Meeting next Tuesday, September 1st at 3:30 p.m. Please send your questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. The meeting will be recorded and shared for those who cannot attend.
The above information is a glimpse into the many protocols we have put into place to address the health and safety needs of our staff and students. We encourage our families to read our Health and Safety Plan and Re-entry Plan attached to better understand the details around our plans for a safe return to school. We will continue to update our Health and Safety Plan with the most current guidelines received from Public Health.
We look forward to sending you much more information in the coming days to help you and your family transition back to school safely.