Formal Day

It was stupendous to see all of the sophisticated, elegant, extravagant, exquisite, dapper, and even exuberant attire on Friday for Formal day! Way to go Hillcrest and thank you to our grade 5 leadership students for organizing this day for us.

Our next dress-up spirit day is Doubles Day on Wednesday Feb 2, 2022. Get it 02.02.2022! Show your school spirit by celebrating anything doubled: arrange with a friend to be twins, wear a tutu, sport two fancy ponytails, show off a pair of your wackiest socks…Anything that comes in twos! Let your imagination run wild!

Unplug and Play Community Walk

Thank you to everyone who came out on Thursday night to participate in our Unplug and Play Community Walk/Letter Scramble. There were about 20 people in total and everyone who came out got a free book thanks to the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS). Thank you also to PAC volunteers Joanna Hamilton and Kristy Cruikshank for organizing this fun activity for us!

Hillcrest Snow Fort Night – Change in Plans

Unfortunately, the weather does not seem to be cooperating for the Family Snow Fort Building that we had planned for tonight at 5:00pm as part of Unplug and Play Week. Instead, families are invited to join us for a Community Walk/Letter Scramble. If you would like to participate please meet at the main entrance of the school at 5:00pm. Thank you to Joanna Hamilton and Kristy Cruikshank for organizing this fun activity for us!

Family Literacy Games Night

All K to 5 families are invited to participate in a virtual Family Literacy Games Night on Wednesday March 9th!

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Participating families will receive a free Family Literacy Kit (includes letter tiles, word cards, dice, and game boards) to use during the session, as families learn fun ways to support literacy skills at home. Interested families must register by Tuesday, February 15th so the kits can be ordered and sent home with students prior to the March 9th session. A huge thanks to LASS (Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society) for their financial support and partnership with this event.

Registration deadline: February 15th

Registration link: https://forms.office.com/r/8Pve8nyGid

*Games Night Zoom link and Family Literacy Kits will be sent home prior to the session

Updates to health check

Public Health and the Ministry of Education have recently updated recommendations and requirements around managing COVID-19.

Click on the link for the Daily Health Check and What To Do If You Are Sick document from public health. The Ministry’s K-12 Daily Health Check app/website is currently being updated and will be available soon.

The main message continues to be please stay home if you are sick, and to use all layers of protection available to you (vaccinations, hand hygiene, and masking). COVID-19 testing is no longer recommended for those with mild symptoms that can be managed at home. School COVID-19 Safety Plans (including hand hygiene and masking inside the school) remain the same.

There are some other changes, including how long someone with COVID-19 has to self-isolate. Please refer to the chart below:

Skating Program Permission Form

Dear Hillcrest Families,

We are excited to share that our Skating Program will begin on February 9, 2022. This year all of our students in K-5 will have an opportunity to participate in three skating sessions at the Shaw Center Arena. Below is the schedule of when classes will be participating as well as a link to the online permission form that needs to be completed by Tuesday January 25, 2022. If you do not have any skates at home that fit your child please start looking for some now. The school does have skates available to borrow, however, there is limited supply and sizing.

SKATING SCHEDULE:

Group 1 – Wed Feb 9, Wed Feb 16, Wed Feb 23
9:00-9:45 – Div 10 (Corbett) & Div 7 (Larmand)
9:45-10:30 – Div 14 (Sudbury) & Div 6 (Housden)
10:30-11:15 – Div 11 (Boyd) & Div 12 (Kehl)

Group 2 – Fri Feb 11, Fri Feb 25, and Wed Mar 2
9:00-9:45 – Div 8 (Boyce) & Div 13 (Porter)
9:45-10:30 – Div 5 (M Smith) & Div 9 (Meerza)
10:30-11:15 – Div 1 (Menzies), Div 2 (Tyssen), Div 3 (C Smith) & Div 4 (Gecse)

IMPORTANT REMINDERS:

HELMETS:  Students and parent coaches must wear either hockey, bike or similar type helmets.
GLOVES: Students must wear some kind of gloves.
SNOW PANTS: Snow pants are highly recommended for students in Grades K-3.
SKATES: Parents who do not have skates for their child are encouraged to borrow from a friend.  We also have some skates at school. 
FOOD/DRINKS:  Students are not permitted to purchase any items at the rink.  Do not send money.

Thank you for your support by completing the permission form above at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Gord Ritchie

Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School

Message from the Superintendent

As we prepare for your child(ren)’s return to school on January 10th, I want to express my sincere appreciation to you for your patience and understanding regarding some of the adjustments made based on the Addendums to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings and Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools.

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In accordance with the advice and direction from the Provincial Health Officer, masks remain an integral part of the safety protocol for COVID-19. Based on the direction of the Deputy Minister, SD83 will ensure that we have sufficient supplies of appropriate 3ply disposable masks for students. The safety of your children is a key priority for us. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 infections within our schools and adjust our plans accordingly. We are asking that you continue to monitor your children for symptoms each day. If your child(ren) is/are ill, please keep them at home. Principals have been directed to send children home who symptomatic or ill.

A very small number of masking exemptions apply according to the Public Health Order dated December 3, 2021 relative to face coverings. These exemptions include: psychological, behavioural or health conditions, and physical, cognitive, and mental impairment. We are asking that parents of children who fall into one of these categories to complete a district exemption form and discuss this with the principal of their child’s school. As part of the exemption process, there will be a requirement to discuss reasonable accommodations that can be made when a child is unable to wear a mask. These accommodations are student specific and will be determined based on the reason for the exemption. Strategies will be reinforced to ensure the safety of all children and staff. In rare circumstances there may not be a possible accommodation due to severe conditions or impairment.

The exemption form will be available from the principal of your child(ren)’s school. I wish to remind any parents who have previously declared their children “exempt” that they will also need to complete the form so that the accommodation strategies can be established for return to school on January 10, 2022. As a reminder, masking remains a requirement for students travelling on SD83 buses.

Thank you for your commitment to helping reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 within our school populations. I am hopeful that if we all do our part, we will be successful at keeping our schools open for in person learning.

I understand that we are all tired of COVID-19. The teaching staff and support staff across the district have been nothing short of heroic through these times. They have gone above and beyond to maintain a

sense of calm within our schools and on our buses. I know they have placed the safety and well-being of students above their own. I am asking you as parents/caregivers/guardians to “please” consider the safety of our staff so that we can keep schools open for all children. I have great faith that even through difficult times we can continue to demonstrate care and respect for one another. I am hopeful that now more than ever, we will return to those core values and extend them to those who serve our children.

Thank you again for your understanding and cooperation. I know there are better days coming!

Sincerely,

Donna Kriger,
Superintendent of Schools
School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)

Returning to School on Jan 10, 2022

Dear Hillcrest Families,

I sincerely hope that you were able to enjoy some great family time this holiday season.  We are looking forward to having students back next week and hope they are looking forward to returning! 

In addition to working at tightening up our school’s COVID protocols and planning for the possible challenges that the Omicron Variant of COVID-19 may bring, our staff have been extremely busy this week helping to ensure we have enough classrooms ready to welcome students back on Monday after our recent flooding. I can’t thank our staff enough for going above and beyond this week moving classroom furniture and resources from room to room so that work could be completed. This was key to getting Hillcrest ready to open to all of our students again on Monday. I would also like to share my appreciation for our SD83 Operations department and the crew from Okanagan Restoration who have been working overtime to ensure we will be open next week.

Below are some changes students can expect for Monday due to the flooding.

  • There will be no Breakfast Program this week
  • Ms. Larmand’s Class will be working in our Multi-purpose room this week
  • Mr. Smith’s Class will be working in the Library on Monday, returning to their regular classroom on Tuesday
  • Mrs. Menzies’ Class will be working in the Gym on Monday, returning to their regular classroom on Tuesday
  • Music and Drama classes will take place in student’s regular classrooms this week

Despite these changes, all students should report to their regular outside classroom door when the welcoming bell rings on Monday morning.

As you know, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is threatening to make for some unusual times ahead once again.  We are hopeful in-class learning will continue as normal, however, we are also preparing for the possibility of functional closures (due to staff shortages) if deemed necessary.

We have worked hard as a community to keep our students happy, safe, and learning over the past couple years. Now more than ever it is important that we follow the COVID protocols in place to ensure in-class learning can continue and keep everyone safe.

Below is a summary of some of the new, and familiar, COVID protocols we will have in place on Monday. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 infections within our school and adjust our plans accordingly.

Daily Health Checks

Completing a daily health check with your child is critical to limit the spread of COVID-19 at school. Students showing any symptom of illness should not be coming to school. Below is a link to the online heath check (also on our website) that parents should complete with their children each day before coming to school.

LINK: https://www.k12dailycheck.gov.bc.ca/

If students start to show symptoms of illness during the day, parents will be contacted so that they can be picked up immediately. 

Personal Care Routines

Students will continue to wash or sanitize their hands routinely during the day when transitions occur, after touching shared materials/equipment, before/after eating etc.  Students will also be reminded to practice good hygiene throughout the day. (ie. cough/sneeze in their elbow, try not to touch their face, not sharing food, etc.)

Pick-Up & Drop-Off

For now, please limit the number of family members involved in your pick-up and drop-off routines. We also ask that you leave the school grounds as soon as possible after your pick-up/drop-off is complete to limit crowding.

After School

Students should go straight home after school. They should not stay at school to play.

Mask Wearing

SD83 is strongly recommending the use of 3ply or 4ply masks for students during the next 30 days. These types of masks will be made available to students upon their arrival at school. Cloth masks are still required as a minimum layer of protection. Parents who have previously declared their children as “exempt” from wearing a mask will need to complete a new district form. Please email gritchie@sd83.bc.ca if your child meets the criteria for a mask exemption so that I can send you the form and arrange a meeting to discuss the accommodations strategies that can be established if eligible.

Personal Space

Students at Hillcrest are familiar with the term Eagle Wings. We use this term to help remind students to respect others personal space as much as possible.

In-class Learning

Teachers have adjusted the seating arrangements in their classrooms and the activities students participate in to reduce situations where students are in close face-to-face contact. Students should also be expected to participate in increased outdoor learning opportunities. Consequently, ensuring your children come to school dressed for the weather each day (ie. winter boots, snow pants, winter jacket, gloves, toque, etc.) is critical.

Visitors

Unfortunately, visitors will not be allowed at this time. Volunteers (ie. Breakfast Program, Field Trips, etc.) working to support students are still allowed.

Together, we will get through this next period of unknowns and come out stronger and wiser than before.  In the meantime, thank you for all your support and for remaining understanding, caring and kind.

Sincerely,

Gord Ritchie

Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School


Working together to keep schools open

SD83 Superintendent of Schools Donna Kriger hopes people have it in their hearts to put differences aside and work together to help keep schools open during this time of skyrocketing cases of COVID-19.

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“I hope everyone can work towards the goal of keeping schools open for our kids,” added Kriger. “I know people are experiencing COVID-fatigue, I know people have varying opinions around COVID, and masking. But, I also know people love their kids. Going to school, and in-person instruction, are very important for our kids’ mental and physical well-being.”

When the region’s lower than provincial average vaccination rates, lower rates of masking, and SD83’s limited numbers of on-call staff, are coupled with the increase in cases across the province, there is the potential for severe staff shortages which could lead to functional school closures. Kriger and the team want to get ahead of this by appealing to parents to help support measures to keep schools open.

READ KRIGER’S LETTER HERE

Kriger points out in her letter that what we know about the Omicron variant is that it is highly transmissible and has a much lower incubation period. “When I reflect about whether there is a better or more effective way of keeping our schools open for in-person instruction, I continue to come back to reducing the chances of transmission within our schools. One of the easiest ways of accomplishing this is resorting to what we learned as kids, that being proper hand hygiene. As a parent I also taught my kids to respect others by covering their nose or mouth when they were coughing or sneezing. It seems simple but we all know how those sneezes and coughs can slip out before we know it.”

“Procedural, surgical, and medical grade masks have proven to be effective in reducing the transmission of viruses. Knowing that Omicron is highly contagious, my reflection also leads me to consider how masking has been approached and if there is a more effective way of doing it in the future. Beginning January 4th, our district will be working to procure a limited supply of N95 masks for staff. In addition to this, we will be sending additional procedural masks to schools for students to use in place of their cloth masks.”

Procedural masks are breathable disposable masks designed for one-time use typically in medical environments. They are used to protect both those wearing them and those around them from the transfer of respiratory droplets by coughing, sneezing or talking.

Kriger adds schools will continue following their safety plans and safety measures including hand hygiene, physical distancing, and increased ventilation. “Our Board of Education of School District No. 83 is committed to ensuring all of our students, staff and schools are safe.”

School Closure – January 4, 2022

Dear Hillcrest Families,

Happy New Year! I hope this message finds you well and that you were able to enjoy lots of quality family time over the Winter Break.

As you are hopefully aware through the media reports and the messages sent out by the district, the start of school has been delayed until Monday January 10, 2022. The goal of the delayed start to school is to have the least number of students in school as possible. This will allow staff time to implement new safety requirements aimed at reducing the possibility of transmission in school and prepare for the weeks ahead. The opportunity to attend school this week is only available to children of parents in Heath Care, or parents of students with expectational needs who have no other child-care options.  Parents who meet this criterion and have no other child-care options must email gritchie@sd83.bc.ca before sending their child to school.

To further complicate matters, we had a failure in our Fire Suppression system at Hillcrest yesterday due to frozen pipes. This resulted in a series of floods which has affected a large portion of our school. As a result, we have been forced to close the entire school on Tuesday January 4 for staff and students who were planning to attend.  We will work to provide an update on this closure by 12:00pm on Tuesday January 4 for the remainder of the week.  

I know that we are all tired of COVID and the sacrifices that we have had to make over the past couple years. As a community we have worked extremely hard throughout the pandemic to ensure quality learning can continue as safely as possible. I do believe that we are nearing the end, however, I also believe that the next while may be the most challenge for us. Omicron is different. It is much more transmissible and has a shorter incubation period. With the increase in cases across the province we are expecting an increase in the number of students and staff becoming infected or having to self-isolate at home. This has the potential to cause severe staff shortages which could lead to functional school closures. We need to do everything we can right now to ensure we can keep our school open over the next couple months.

As always, I thank you for your continued support. It is such a privilege to work in such a caring community. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me by email at gritchie@sd83.bc.ca.

Sincerely,

Gord Ritchie

Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School