Dear VCS Community,
I want to welcome you to the 2021-22 school year. Below, I’ve outlined some key information about school start-up plans, but ask that you also review the following tabs website for complete details.
2021-22 School Theme: “Treasure in Jars of Clay”
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4: 6-9
From local wildfires and COVID-19 cases, to global climate change impacts and political unrest, it may be easy for us to feel oppressed by the darkness all around us in the world. However, just as God spoke light into darkness at creation, he continues to shine out of the current darkness and chaos – through us, His children. God’s track record is that He does His best work when darkness seems to have closed in. As Paul writes, we are NOT in despair, and not crushed, abandoned or destroyed. And so, as a leadership team, our prayer is that the VCS community will LET HOPE SHINE! In the midst of the darkness and heaviness surrounding us, may Christ shine brightly in our hearts like a measureless treasure. As we explore this passage throughout the year, we will proclaim loud-and-clear that we are a people of hope, and that even our frailty as “jars of clay” is part of the beauty in God’s purpose, because it is He who holds the world – present and future – in His hands!
As we look ahead to September 7 when students return, please pray with us and for us – for protection from the ongoing impact of wildfires which have displaced and in some cases even destroyed property of members of our school community. Pray also for our staff and students – for protection from sickness, and for wisdom and joy as we prepare to engage in Christ-centered learning.
The Ministry of Education has outlined updated guidelines for all BC schools (public and independent), for full-time, in-person learning to start the school year. We are grateful that reduced restrictions will bring us a significant step closer to being “back to normal.” I’m sure you have many questions, some of which we have addressed below.
Some things you may be wondering about…
The following is a list of questions and answers you may have about COVID protocols as we begin the new school year. This information is based on the August 24 Ministry of Education release (note: local health authorities may also activate additional medical health orders that reflect their region’s context and public health experience.)
Q: Will learning continue?
A: Yes! We are as committed as ever to equipping your children for a life of discipleship by providing an excellent education in a Christ-centered community.
Q: Are masks required for students?
A: Yes and No: Non-medical masks are required to be worn inside the school and on school buses by all adults and all students in grade 4-12. The mask requirement is expected to be reviewed by the Ministry of Education later this fall with the intention that wearing a mask will eventually transition to a personal choice. Mask use in school for students in grades K-3 is based on personal or family/caregivers’ choice. Mask exceptions are possible for persons who cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons. Parents should contact the principal if this is true of your child, even if you already did so last year.
Q: Are vaccines required for students and/or staff?
A: No. The PHO and the Ministry of Education will be focusing on encouraging vaccinations for all that are eligible to receive one. Both the Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority produced studies of COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools in their respective regions and the common theme was that vaccines are the most effective means to lowering case numbers and reducing the severity of illness for those who become infected with COVID-19.
Q: Do we have to practice physical distancing?
A: No. Physical distancing is no longer required. Instead, students, staff and all adults are to respect each other’s personal space. Students will be spread out as much as possible in classrooms and assemblies while still taking into consideration best practices for student learning and engagement. The emphasis will be on respecting personal space and avoiding physical contact.
Q: Are there learning cohorts/groups?
A: No. Students are not required to be in learning cohorts/groups and can interact with any other students.
Q. Will there be chapels and assemblies?
A: Yes. The PHO Gathering and Events Order does not apply to students and teachers at school engaged in educational activities. Chapels/assemblies can proceed, using available space to spread people out as much as possible. However, we will be taking a gradual approach, considering student and staff comfort levels as well as what is happening in the community, exploring virtual or smaller gatherings where appropriate.
Q: Are parents/guardians and other adults allowed in the building?
A: Yes. All adults must enter/exit each building through the front entrance, wear a mask, confirm they did a daily health check, and sign in at the front office.
Q: Will parents/guardians be allowed to volunteer?
A: Yes. We look forward to seeing our volunteer parents and guardians back in the school this year. All volunteers will be required to sign in at the front office, do a health check and wear a mask while in the building. As before COVID, if you would like to volunteer please contact the classroom teacher or administration.
Q: Do SC students have to line up at a designated door before entering the building?
A: No. All grade 7-12 students will enter through the front doors which will open at 8am this year, Monday-Friday. And no, staff will not sanitize students’ hands for them this year either. Water, soap and sanitizer stations will be readily available, and students will be reminded and expected to follow good hand hygiene practices, as well as complete a Daily Health Check before coming to school each day.
Q: Do EC students have to line up at a designated door before entering the building?
A: Yes, students in Preschool – Grade 4 are to line up at their classroom’s exterior door. The Grade 5 & Grade 5/6 classes are to line up at the west gym entrance (lakeside).
Q: Will there be field trips?
A: Yes. We look forward to the different learning opportunities and experiences that field trips provide for our students, and we are excited to be able to offer them again this year, including day-retreats for Gr.7-12 students. Students in grades 4-12 and staff & parent/guardian volunteers are required to wear masks when indoors on field trips and while being transported, whether by bus or by parent/guardian drivers.
Q: What about playground use before and after school for elementary children?
A: Yes. The EC playground will be open and supervised for students at 8:00am in the morning and after school until 3:15 with an emphasis on respecting the personal space of others. Prior to 8:00am and after 3:15pm, parents are responsible for their children and are expected to be present.
Q: What will happen if there is a COVID-19 exposure at school?
A: If a potential exposure at a school is identified, Interior Health will work with our school to understand who may have been exposed and determine what actions should be taken, including identifying if other students or staff have been exposed. Further information can be found at Interior Health – School Exposures and BCCDC.
Q: Will there be school events involving parents, such as an ice-cream social on Sep. 14th?
A: Yes. However, the PHO Gathering and Events Order does apply to social events at schools. Our staff team is currently working on a modified version of our Welcome Back Social for Sept.14 in compliance with current Interior Health guidelines on outdoor gatherings. We are looking forward to this important community-building event. Stay tuned for more details!
Q: Will there be a remote/home learning option for families?
A: No. Based on guidance from the BCCDC and experience to date within B.C. and other jurisdictions showing schools as low-risk sites for COVID-19 transmission, even with increased risk of COVID-19 in some communities, K-12 students can participate in full-time, in-class instruction in accordance with current public health guidelines for schools. This includes children with immune compromise.
Q: What about sports?
A: We are excited to announce that extra-curricular activities, including inter-school sports are permitted this year. (Further details from BC School Sports will be forthcoming – stay-tuned).
Q: How can I support VCS?
A: There has been much change for staff, students and parents over the past 18 months and we ask for everyone’s prayer, support and grace as we transition once again. In the meantime, please be kind, be calm, be safe…
Sincerely, on behalf of the VCS Admin. Team,
Additional Resources: (links)
Start Time (M/W/F)
- Elementary Campus (EC): 8:20am bell
- Secondary Campus (SC): 8:30am bell
Start Time (Tu/Th)
- Elementary & Secondary: 8:55am bell
Entrance & Exit Plans
- Preschool to Grade 4: External door use in each classroom
- Grade 5 & 5/6: West gym entrance (lakeside)
- Grade 6: Enter through portable
- Main entrance opens at 8:00am
- At bell, Gr.7-9 @ south entrance / Gr.10-12 @ north entrance
Elementary – Staggered Breaks
- Break 1:
- K-2 → OUT 10:20-10:40, EAT 10:40-10:55
- 3-6 → EAT 10:25-10:40, OUT 10:40-11:00
- Break 2:
- K-2 → OUT 11:55-12:25, EAT 12:25-12:40
- 3-6 → EAT 12:10-12:25, OUT 12:25-12:55
- Break 1:
Secondary – Shared breaks (no cohort requirement)
- AM Break (Mo/Tu/Th/Fr): 10:05-10:15
- LUNCH (Mo-Fr): 11:40-12:15
- PM Break: 1:35-1:45
Wednesday Chapel Schedule:
- High School: 10:00-10:40
- Middle School: 10:55-11:35
- Note: Indoor assemblies/chapels are limited to 50 people or two classes (whichever is larger), in a single space.
Day-End Staggered Dismissal:
- Elementary Campus (K-6): 2:55pm
- Upon dismissal, students report to parent in parking lot
- 2:55-3:10: teachers supervise & support dismissal & outdoor transition
- Secondary Campus – 3:05pm
- Elementary Campus Students Only: 2:55-3:05pm
- Secondary Campus Students Only: 3:05-3:15pm
For parents with both EC/SC students: please arrive at the SC pick-up time.
SC After School:
- Campus will close at 3:20pm – students should exit to transportation.
- Supervised spaces will be provided for students who have staff permission to stay later (ex. athletics, after-school clubs).
EC Supervision/Playground Schedule
VCS offers supervision before and after school for specific times, as well as during recess and lunch breaks. During these times, the school will be responsible for students in the building or at specified outdoor areas.
Before School: supervision in the playground and on the west side of the building
- M/W/F 8:00-8:20am
- Tu/Th 8:15-8:55am
- 10:20-10:40: K-2 break 1 (all areas supervised)
- 10:40-11:00: 3-6 break 1 (all areas supervised)
- 11:55-12:25: K-2 break 2 (all areas supervised)
- 12:25-12:55: 3-6 break 2 (all areas supervised)
- 2:55-3:15PM: supervision in the playground
Prior to 8:00am and after 3:15pm, parents are responsible for their children and are expected to be present.
Traffic Flow and Parking
Our traffic flow and parking plan from 2020-21 will remain in effect for this coming year. To assist with the flow of traffic this year, we have made the following enhancements:
- Parking lot lines re-painted (lane markings, cross walks, parking spaces): Please follows the markings as indicated in the diagram below
- Sidewalk widened at waiting area: To increase student safety during drop-off/pick-up, we have widened the sidewalk thanks to a very generous donation by a VCS family
VCS Parking Lot
- Lane 1: designated lane to the Preschool and K-2/Appointment Parking Spots
- Lane 2: drop-off/pick-up ‘staging’ lane and for merging in/out of the drop-off/pick-up lane
- Lane 3: drop-off/pick-up ‘staging’ lane
Please review the following information regarding our parking/pick-up/drop-off procedures:
- Parents with EC only children are at campus for pick-up between 2:55-3:05pm.
- Kindergarten – parents pick-up students at exterior door
- Grade 1-2 – option to either have children proceed directly to parking lot or have parents pick up at playground
- Parents with at least one SC child do not enter the pickup lane before 3:05pm.
- Cars in the pick-up lane always pull as far forward as they can before stopping along the curb, and move forward as soon as a gap opens in front of them.
- Students are diligent to watch and wait in a place where they can see that their parent has arrived in the pick-up lane.
- Please have children exit/enter the vehicle on the passenger side whenever possible.
- Never leave your vehicle unattended in any of the lanes.
- Do not stop on crosswalks at any time.
- When exiting the parking lot, please turn right between 8:00AM-3:30PM.
- Cell phones should never be used while driving.
- Traffic attendants will help direct vehicles & pedestrians during drop-off and pick-up.
- Students who are waiting in the upper lot are to remain on the sidewalk and not play on the grass hillside.
- Please remember that parking stalls are reserved after school for Gr. PreK-2 parents until 3:05pm.
- *NEW*: After 3:05pm, stalls are available for any parents/guests as needed since the vast majority of K-2 parents have by then been able to leave with their children.
VCS will once again leave the front, main doors unlocked for visitor access during school hours. However:
- Visitors entering the school will be limited to those supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and wellbeing (e.g. teacher candidates, meal program volunteers, etc.).
- Visitors will be required to complete a daily health check prior to entering either campus.
- A sign in/sign out process will continue to be used. This process will include individuals’ contact information and acknowledgement that they have completed a Daily Health Check.
- Where possible, visitor access will be limited to those areas required for the purpose of the visit (e.g. school office for drop-off/pick-up of items, gymnasium for a sports event, etc.), and parents/caregivers are encouraged to drop-off/pick-up students outside of the school.
- Parents/caregivers and other visitors should respect others’ personal space while on school grounds, including outside.
- All visitors must wear a non-medical mask when they are inside the school
After hours community use of facilities is allowed per relevant local, regional, provincial and federal public health recommendations and orders.
Daily Health Check
Parents, caregivers, school staff and other adults routinely entering the school are required to assess themselves daily for key symptoms of illness prior to entering the school.
Stay Home When Required to Self-Isolate
- Students, staff or other adults must stay home if they are required to self-isolate.
- Anyone required to self-isolate will be supported by public health. Additional information is available from BCCDC.
Symptoms of Illness and Return to School
Students, staff or other adults should stay at home when sick, as this is one of the most important ways to reduce the introduction to and the spread of COVID-19 in schools. For further information on what to do if you are experience COVID-19 symptoms, please refer to the following flowchart:
Students will be encouraged to wash hands frequently but especially:
- Upon entering the school and before leaving at the end of the day
- Immediately after sneezing, coughing, using a tissue
- Immediately after using the toilet
- Whenever hands are visibly dirty
- When moving between different learning environment (eg. outdoor-indoor transitions)
Personal Protective Equipment
Masks continue to be required by all staff, students and visitors in schools and on buses, based on the BCCDC’s identified benefits of wearing masks:
- Masks have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19, by helping to stop the spread of droplets from a person’s mouth and nose when talking, laughing, yelling, singing, coughing, or sneezing.
- Masks provide protection to the person wearing them and to those around them.
- Masks complement and build on the other safety measures in schools. They work best when everyone who can wear a mask is wearing one.
- Mask requirements in K-12 schools are similar to requirements in other indoor public spaces (e.g., shopping malls, grocery stores, recreation centres, post-secondary institutions, public transit, etc.).
Updated Exceptions for Staff, Students, and Visitors:
- If the person is unable to wear a mask because of
- A psychological, behavioural or health condition, or a physical, cognitive, or mental impairment, or
- They are unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person.
Strategies/options to support those with exemptions include:
- Can the person wear a different type of mask, or a face shield (without a mask)?
- If the issue relates to having to wear a mask all day, can the person wear a mask during face-to-face classroom activities and hallway transitions but be able to take the mask off while working alone at their desk/workstation?
- Can they use existing opportunities to remove masks more often, like spending breaks outdoors when the weather allows?
We will need to re-authorize mask exemptions in order to comply with the new PHO standards. Please contact the Principal at your child’s campus for a link to the Mask Exemption Form.
- Students are encouraged to bring their own approved, non-medical mask to use.
- VCS will make available disposable, non-medical masks in the event that students forget theirs at home.
VCS will support student mask use through positive and inclusive approaches. VCS does not require a health-care provider note (i.e. a doctor’s note) to determine if a person does not tolerate a mask.
Physical Distancing & Space Arrangement
Although public health no longer recommends learning groups and physical distancing of 2M as communicable disease measures for the K-12 setting, there are a number of strategies that VCS will implement to help create space between people and to support students and staff in returning to school:
- Remind students and staff about respecting others personal space.
- Bus drivers are required to wear a non-medical mask, a face covering or a face shield (in which case a non-medical mask should be worn in addition to the face shield) on school buses except while driving.
- Students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings when they are on the bus. Students in Grades K to 3 are encouraged to wear a non-medical mask or face covering on school buses but are not required to do so.
- Parents and caregivers must assess their child daily for symptoms of common cold, influenza, COVID-19, or other infectious respiratory disease before sending them to school (see the Daily Health Check section for more information). If a child is sick, they must not take the bus or go to school.
For carpooling related to school activities:
- Students, staff and other adults must follow the mask requirements outlined in the Personal Protective Equipment section.
- Spread out vehicle occupants as much as possible.
- Travel with the same people whenever possible.
Public health strongly encourages all eligible students and staff to be fully vaccinated (i.e., receive 2 doses) against COVID-19 to protect themselves and those around them including those who are not eligible to be vaccinated.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, including where to get immunized, please visit ImmunizeBC.
We are excited to have students back and we are SO thankful that we can still be together on campus!
Some of our start-up & school events will need to be reimagined, similar to what you may have been used to last year.
Middle & High School RetreatsOur middle and high school staff teams are exploring options for day retreats and other start-up events for our SC students. This will obviously look different than the past but we are excited to “kick-off” our new school year with a fun, shared experience. Please stay tuned as details and venue info are forthcoming.
Ice Cream Social – We are planning a modified version of this exciting event! Stay tuned for more info.
Hot Lunch & Pizza Day at EC & SC – Details to come!
Sports – Details to come!
“Lion King” Performance – Planned for April 2022!