Hillcrest Parent Survey – Start-up 2020

Dear Hillcrest Families,

I hope you are all doing well and that you are enjoying your last few weeks of summer with your families.

The beginning of a new school year is always a little emotional for families. This year in particular I understand that many of our families may be feeling nervous and uncertain about what school will look like in our new COVID-19 reality.  Next week we will be sending out our Hillcrest specific Return to School Plan by email. Hopefully this will help alleviate some of the anxiety people are feeling. What I can tell you for certain is that we have an amazing staff here at Hillcrest who will always find a way to make sure our students feel loved and cared for during their time at school.

As per the SD83 Return to School Plan emailed to parents earlier this week, the first day of school for students will be Thursday Sept 10, 2020.  Students in Grades 1-5 will attend for the full day, from 8:12am to 2:14pm.  Kindergarten students will also begin on Thursday Sept 10, 2020. However, students in Kindergarten will follow our Gradual Entry Schedule which will be sent out by email early next week. More specific information about what the first week of school will look like will be emailed to families next week. 

To help us prepare for the first week of school, we are asking that all parents complete the survey below for each of their children by Monday Aug 31, 2020. The information collected in this survey is essential to our planning process. 

SURVEY LINK: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=pP-hhz-WDkWNkBVd542b5bri62YcMvBOjCeGQRM-I7ZUM1YwWjBJQ0RBNkdaS0kxU0FIRUE1OTk5Si4u

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions or concerns, please email gritchie@sd83.bc.ca or call the school at (250) 832-7195.


Gord Ritchie

Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School

Welcome Back!

Dear Hillcrest Families,

There has been a lot of information shared in the media recently about the return to school this September. Please continue to check https://sd83.bc.ca for updates from the Ministry of Education as well as information specific to SD83.

All families should have received an informative email last night regarding the District’s Return to School Plan. We encourage you to read this important communication thoroughly. This plan includes protocols and practices for the health and safety of all and will make up our new normal at school, at least until we move out of stage 2.

More information specific to our school will be sent out next week via email. Kindergarten parents will also be receiving an email early next week regarding their gradual entry schedule. I understand that this may be a very uncertain time for parents. I invite you to reach out by phone (250-832-7195) or email (gritchie@sd83.bc.ca) for more information about our practices and protocols to keep our staff and students safe as we enter stage 2.

We are looking forward to the return of our students on Thursday, September 10th and working TOGETHER with you, our parents, on a successful, safe start up for all.


Gord Ritchie (Principal)


We are all doing our part to maintain safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and are looking forward to students being back in school. If your child will not be riding the bus, we ask that you call the Operations Department at 250-832-9415 or email operations@sd83.bc.ca to advise. It is very important that all drivers have an up-to-date passenger list at all times.

Below are instructions for students to safely ride their school bus during COVID-19.

1. Students who are sick will need to be kept home. Students who develop symptoms while at school will not be permitted to return home on a school bus and should be picked up by a parent or guardian. We are not able to transport students who are ill or showing symptoms.

2. Parents will be responsible for their child’s safety at the bus stop. Parents must remain with their child K-5 until the bus departs in the morning and then again meet their child at the bus in the afternoon.

3. To ensure that your child is as safe as possible, please review safety procedures before riding the bus:

a. Line up with limited contact when waiting for the school bus.

b. Always follow the driver’s instructions.

c. When loading onto the bus, go to the furthest available seat unless the driver instructs otherwise.

d. When unloading the bus, wait until the seat in front has moved before you get up to go, ensure physical distancing is observed.

e. When space is available students will be seated in the window seat away from the aisle.

f. When possible bus routes will utilize a strict seating plan that reflects cohort and family groupings.

g. No eating or drinking (except water) on the school bus.

4. School Buses will not be accepting unregistered riders which includes after-school friends coming home with a bus student. Alternate transportation will need to be arranged in those cases.

5. Students from grades 6-12 will be required to wear masks while riding the school bus as directed by the Ministry of Education.

6. Your child will receive an updated ‘Procedure and Code of Conduct for Bus Students’ form from their bus driver. Please review front and back of form with your child and return the signed bottom portion to the bus driver as soon as possible.

In order to keep students and staff as safe as possible, we will require bus students to follow the above rules very closely to avoid the risk of losing their busing privileges. We appreciate your cooperation in keeping everyone safe.

**PLEASE NOTE: Your child’s school bus driver has the option to wear a surgical mask while driving their bus as well as a face shield/safety glasses when the bus is stopped, and although this has become normal practice for some, please prepare your child for this change in their bus driver’s attire.

As this is an ever changing environment, Ministry needs may change as the school year progresses.

New info on school start up

In this unusual year, SD83 would like to share what information we currently have, and hopefully answer some questions our parents may have about the new school year.

When will my child begin school?
The Ministry of Education has announced there will be a staggered start to the new school year to give everyone time to become familiar with the new safety protocols.

School District No. 83 staff will report to their schools on Tuesday, September 8 for safety orientations and planning sessions.

Students will report to schools on Thursday, September 10 for their welcoming and safety orientation sessions. Regular learning will commence as soon as appropriate routines are established. School staff will communicate any changes to student schedules. Graduated entry for Kindergarten will still occur in its usual manner.

What is a Learning Group or Cohort?
Through the direction of our Public Health Officer (PHO), the BC Ministry of Education has established learning group limits for regular student interactions that occur inside our buildings. Schools are expected to adhere to this expectation for all learning activities, or establish additional safety protocols, including social distancing. Staff that work with more than one cohort of students will also have to adhere to these safety protocols.
Click here for information on Learning Groups/Cohorts

Will the school buses be running?
School District No. 83 will continue to offer bus services. In late August all bus students will receive a postcard in the mall with a stop location and pick up and drop off times. If you are new to the district and qualify for busing please contact our transportation office at 250-832-9415 to register your child for busing. Please contact the transportation department if you don’t receive yours or if your mailing address has changed.

Please note that additional safety protocols are being finalized for all bus routes. These will likely include seating plans, use of masks for riders in grades four through twelve, as well as PPE for the drivers. Submission of regular health checks may also be required.

Will the school district be staggering school day start and end times?
Changes to school start and end of day times are not being contemplated at this time, as many of our students ride to school on our interlocking bus schedule. However, break and lunch times may be staggered in some schools to reduce hallway, playground, and common area interactions.

What is happening at the high schools?
High schools are currently investigating timetable options to limit the number of contacts. At this time, some secondary schools in School District No. 83 are considering the use of the quarter system, where students would take two courses a day for ten weeks. To meet the cohort requirements determined by the PHO, but still allow students to stay enrolled in their currently selected course options, some of our larger schools may have to divide the student population into groups, having students attend in-person on certain days and work from home the other days. Secondary leadership teams are currently working on this issue and will notify families as plans are nearer to completion.

What health guidelines are being put in place?
The plan and protocols are being updated and will be posted on the district website (www.sd83.bc.ca ) by August 26.
Click here to view the COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines for K-12 School Settings

Will there be “health checks” like there were in June
Parents of bus students may be required to submit health checks, but otherwise, health check forms will not be required. However, it is extremely important that parents pay close attention to the health of their children and keep them at home if they are sick or symptomatic. More information is available here.

Our family has an immune compromised member and we don’t think our children should attend school. What are our options?
School District No. 83 is focusing on making our schools as safe as possible for all students. However, if are uncomfortable having your child return to regular learning, you may wish to consider some other options.

School District No. 83 currently has an online option for students in Grades 9-12 known as the Education Outreach Program (EOP). Students in EOP are supplied assignments and resources (such as textbooks and learning activities) as well as some access to a local teacher, but the program is primarily self-directed. The Education Outreach Program currently offers a wide range of online courses to students on a full-time or cross-enrolled basis in Grades 9-12.

School District No. 83 previously offered an Education Outreach Program option to elementary and middle schools student, but it was closed due to lack of demand. We will reopen this program option for the duration of the pandemic if there is sufficient interest. For more information regarding the EOP program, or to express your interest in registering, please contact Education Outreach Principal Rob Macaulay at rmacaula@sd83.bc.ca

Note that the Home Learning Opportunities program that School District No. 83 provided through June will not be available this coming year. Parents who are interested in homeschooling their children may wish to visit this website:

What about music/band/choir/musical theatre?
At this time, all programs will be carrying on as previously planned. However, there music-specific safety protocols and scheduling to allow for sufficient physical distancing for classes outside the set cohort numbers that still need to be worked out. Expect further communication from your school prior to start-up.

Students with special needs?
Students with special needs will be given full access to learning and supports, as they would in a non-pandemic context. For more information about your child’s program or to request an individual meeting or orientation, please contact your school.

What about extra-curricular activities (clubs/sports)
Schools may continue clubs if cohorts or physical distancing can remain intact. The Fall interschool sports schedule has been cancelled. The remaining seasons of play will be re-evaluated throughout the year. https://www.bcschoolsports.ca/news/planning-return-play-fall-2020

Community use of school facilities?
After hours community use of facilities will be allowed in the fall providing they are in full alignment with health and safety measures.

Further Information
Further information will be provided via the School District No. 83 website over the coming weeks, including the full District Safety Plan. You can also expect a survey confirming your student’s intentions to attend school and/or utilize bus transportation for September.
Additional links from the Ministry of Education and Public Health
Ministry of Education Return To School Information
BC Centre for Disease Control website with the most recent information on school safety and child care safety protocols.
The BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 dashboard
7 Tips for talking to kids about COVID-19 poster on the Fraser Health website 
All joint statements from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix are posted here
The Provincial Pandemic Coordination plan

Click here for complete SD83 newsletter