JANUARY 8, 2022
Welcome Back!
We look forward to welcoming all of our students back to onsite learning on Monday. We recognize that the return to school is a celebration for some and may cause worry for others. In many cases, your feelings might be of both excitement and nervousness, which can make us grow weary and grow our anxiety. Our commitment is to be a normal, hospitable, and safe place for your children. We strive to be a place where we educate, equip and inspire our school community to become disciples of Jesus who love and serve God and others. We continue to seek to turn limitations into opportunities. We will continue to do precisely what is asked of us by the Ministry of Education and Provincial Health Authority. While many small protocols have been tightened up, our messaging from November 2nd remains unchanged. Please note our November communication on our need to remain in community with the rules at hand.
Mt. Sleese Memorial Trail Story
In July 2013, I hiked the Mt. Slesse Memorial Trail. A passenger plane crashed in this region in 1956, and the hike led to a memorial cairn. I reached the monument and felt great. We then decided to hike to the summit to see a propeller from the crash. It was the most grueling hike that I have ever done. Climbing through three feet of snow near the top, I would take ten steps and would collapse to rest. The final 2 hours were the most strenuous thing I experienced. However, we made it to the top, we rested, and then we saw the beauty of the Chilliwack River Valley. It was astonishing from the top and I was stronger by enduring. The trip down was fantastic.

I have remained optimistic throughout the current pandemic, and I hope and pray that the Omicron Variant will be similar to the final two hours of my hiking experience. These next several weeks might be the hardest to navigate yet, but they also might be the final steps of the in-between we have lived in for the past 22 months. I am hopeful that living with Covid-19 will be much more normal after this season, and we can enjoy the view from the peak provided to us by our endurance.  
The Next 2 Months
It is probable that the next two months will be unconventional and hard, not just at KCS, but locally and globally. The rapid spread of the Omicron virus may mean that nearly all of us will get this strain of Covid, sooner than later (my wife and 2 of my children contracted covid, mildly, on Vancouver Island during the break). This could put a massive strain on our health care system, from further hospitalization to an inability to staff our emergency services. A huge thank you to all essential support workers for their tireless efforts.

At KCS, we continue to navigate together, in community. In our provincial education debriefs, the sense is that this wave will be most intense in schools in the next 4-6 weeks. If the projections end up being true, I implore our community to do the following as we endure this period of uncertainty between now and the Family Day Weekend:
  • Pray without ceasing (1st Thessalonians 5:16-18)
  • Be gentle with yourselves and gracious with others
  • Remember, people are tired
  • Have peace and take heart that God has a plan (John 16:33)
  • Be empathetic and show extended care to people that may have different fears than you. We can honor the diversity of our supper tables, while having the affinity of Jesus Christ
  • Communicate well (James 1:19, Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29)
What We Have Heard From our Governing Bodies
(From Ed Noot, Executive Director of SCSBC/President of FISA,
and From the Ministry of Education)
  • Conditions are changing quickly and schools will need to be more nimble than ever.
  • The Omicron surge will peak, possibly sooner rather than later. 
  • BC continues to see elevated case counts with relatively stable hospitalization rates. As a lagging indicator, it is expected that hospitalization rates will start increasing, although at a much lower proportional rate than we experienced with the Delta variant. 
  • At this time, everyone needs to be self-monitoring for symptoms.  
  • Daily health checks can be completed at https://www.k12dailycheck.gov.bc.ca/
  • Rapid antigen tests are ordered but not yet readily available in the education sector. 
  • School leaders will have some discretion regarding what threshold triggers a short-term shift to remote learning (i.e, 10 percent above school averages or 25% in a single classroom).
  • No update that lists symptoms will be issued at this time. Current guidance regarding symptoms remains in effect. 
  • Our former method of school notification regarding positive COVID cases will change drastically. Parents may feel like they are not receiving adequate information, and schools may experience some backlash on this change.  
  • Schools won't be able to release personal family information about Covid. This may cause some tension in your communities but schools cannot be giving personal information to other families.
  • Schools should emphasize the high level of individual responsibility to stay home when sick, register results of rapid tests, and notify close contacts (as per revised guidance: at-home contacts and intimate contacts). 
  • Public Health will gather school data and will connect with any school that represents a level of concern. 
  • Schools could consider reporting classroom or school-wide illness absentee rates in certain circumstances, in consultation with Public Health and/or the FISA RRT.
  • Schools are encouraged to remind families of the importance of mask use and the respect for others that comes with it. Schools must still offer education to all students, including those who cannot wear a mask, but all other layers of protection should be in place.  
  • Schools cannot ask for proof of a medical reason for a mask exemption but should encourage all families with children with medical exemptions to wear a mask when near others. 
  • While Omicron may spread amongst those vaccinated, vaccinations and boosters limit the severity of the illness, reducing hospitalization and death.
In Conclusion
Like we have for the past 22 months, we will navigate together in community. Shifts and pivots might occur often. Campus-specific information will come from campus leaders. Campus-specific questions should also be directed to campus leaders. If we had significant staff and/or student absenteeism, we will need to consider transitioning a single class, grade level, or division to short-term remote learning. Any shift to short-term remote learning for any part of our student body will be well communicated and well thought out by school administration and in partnership with the school board, SCSBC, FISA, and the Health Authority.

 Pray for our leaders and all KCS staff as these pivots and shifts have come fast and will continue to come fast. We are learning and listening as we go. I am sure we won't get everything right (mistakes mean we are trying and will help us improve as we listen and learn). However, our team continues to work hard to make educational decisions based on our core values of creativity, perseverance, excellence, prayer, integrity, and Biblical foundation. These define what we strive towards at Kelowna Christian School, and we are growing as we climb. We might be exhausted when we get to the peak, but we will be stronger on the climb down.

Be well,
P: 250.861.3238 ext. 305
C: 604.845.8074