Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week begins on January 22. For the latest updates please go to www.shuswapliteracy.ca.
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.
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)
Thank you for your support by completing the permission form above at your earliest convenience.
Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School
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.
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!
Superintendent of Schools
School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)
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.
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.
Students should go straight home after school. They should not stay at school to play.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School
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.
“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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School
Amended Public Health Guidance for Schools
Dear families and staff of SD83,
On December 29th, 2021 the Provincial Health Officer amended the provincial health orders and guidelines in response to the Omicron variant which is causing an increased number of COVID-19 cases in our province COVID-19 safe schools – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca). A significant addition to the public health order has the majority of students returning to school on January 10, 2022.
The following students are invited to attend school as of January 4, 2022:
- Children with exceptional needs (social, emotional, academic, medical), you may choose to bring your child to their school and if your child accesses district transportation, buses will run as usual. Meal programs will also be available for students who require access to them.
- If you are a parent or legal guardian who works in the healthcare system, you may choose to transport your child to their school or have your child access district transportation as school buses will run as usual.
Please reach out to your child’s school principal if you have questions regarding a January 4th start date for your child. If it is determined that your child(ren) will be returning to school next week, the school principal will invite you to complete a form for district records.
The province has determined that by phasing in the return to school, it will allow time for the district and school staff to increase safety measures that will support students and staff upon return as of January 10, 2022.
The following safety measures will be adhered to:
- Completing daily health checks;
- Staff and/or students will be required to stay home when sick;
- Wearing masks according to the public health order;
- Avoiding crowding;
- Maintaining personally respectful spaces between people.
Enhanced measures have been published and the key changes are as follows:
- Reinforcing the measures as outlined above;
- Arranging classrooms to ensure maximum space between students and staff;
- Limiting visitors to the school to those that are supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and well-being (e.g., teacher candidates, meal program volunteers, etc);
- Reducing crowding at transition times such as staggered start/stop times, breaks, lunches;
- Holding student assemblies and staff meetings virtually rather than in person;
- In keeping with the guidelines, athletic practices are permitted;
- No spectators or audiences permitted at this time;
- Pausing school tournaments.
For more details regarding the Ministry plan, please visit COVID-19 safe schools – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca) .
On behalf of the Board of Education and the staff of SD 83, I wish to thank you for your patience and understanding as we adjust to the newly implemented provincial measures. We look forward to seeing your child(ren) return to school and experience personal growth within our district.
Donna Kriger Superintendent
A full return to school for students in kindergarten to Grade 12 will be delayed until Monday, Jan. 10, in order to give public health and B.C. schools additional time to adapt to the impacts of the Omicron variant on communities and schools, and to implement enhanced safety plans to support the continuation of in-class learning. Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education Adrian Dix, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the delay at a joint press conference on Wednesday.
During this week, schools will be open for limited numbers of students in particular need. After additional details are known, SD83 will soon be communicating out to local families how this process will work.
At the conference Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that schools have safety protocols in place that have kept students and staff in school over the past two years, but as the pandemic changes, protocols must change, too. “That is why schools will be implementing enhanced public health measures to ensure that in-person learning, that is so important for well-being and mental health, can continue.”
The delayed return is supported by an Order from the Provincial Health Officer, which applies to all public and independent schools in British Columbia. While students will return on Jan. 10, staff will return on Jan. 3 and 4. This will allow schools to implement enhanced safety measures and proactively implement continuity of learning plans.
“We know how important it is for students to return to safe, in-person learning,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “This extra time will allow the Ministry of Education and public health to better understand the impact of the Omicron variant on the education system, and school communities to prepare for students returning to class with enhanced safety measures. Safety is our top priority, and we’re going to keep working with public health to ensure the right measures continue to be in place to keep students and staff safe.”
The Ministry of Education has developed an addendum to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 settings based on public health’s current knowledge of the Omicron variant. The guidelines were developed in collaboration with the BC Centre for Disease Control, Indigenous rightsholders and education partners, including teachers, parents and school administrators. As the ministry has done throughout the pandemic, safety measures for schools will continue to be updated as needed in consultation with public health.
K-12 schools must reinforce existing safety measures, including:
- Using all available space to maximize space between people. For example, different common space, classroom and learning environment configurations (e.g., avoid face-to-face seating arrangements where possible).
- Everyone able to wear a mask
- Doing daily health checks, and staying home when sick.
K-12 public and independent schools must also implement enhanced safety measures, such as:
- Implement strategies that prevent crowding during class transition times.
- Hold school gatherings and events (e.g., assemblies, etc.) virtually. If they must be in- person, limit the number of people to no more than 50% operating capacity.
- Hold staff-only gatherings (e.g., meetings, professional development activities) virtually whenever possible.
- Limit visitors to those who are supporting activities that directly benefit student learning and well-being (e.g., teacher candidates, immunizers, meal program volunteers, etc.).
- Pause extracurricular sports tournaments.
The guidelines build on existing protocols that have succeeded in minimizing the spread of the virus in schools, such as:
- Encouraging everyone who is eligible to get fully vaccinated.
- Using available space to spread out and to respect personal space.
- Wearing masks in accordance with Provincial Health Officer Order on Face Coverings: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the- provincial-health-officer/covid-19/covid-19-pho-order-face-coverings.pdf
- Cleaning hands regularly.
- Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces at least once a day.
As the Province awaits new rapid tests shipments from the federal government, B.C.s existing supply of rapid tests will continue to be used at schools where there has been exposure events and outbreaks. When new federal shipments of take-home rapid tests arrive in mid-January, their use will be scaled up with 500,000 tests deployed as needed to support the safe continuation of in-person learning. Transmission in B.C. schools reflects transmission in the community and schools with consistently implemented prevention measures have proven to be lower risk throughout the pandemic.
The government is committed to continuing to support safe in-person education in recognition of its positive impact on the intellectual, social and emotional development of students. Schools also provide important supports for children, such as meal programs and mental-health supports.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/children
To see the addendum to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/safe- caring-orderly/k-12-covid-19-health-safety-guidelines-addendum.pdf
Interior Health has notified School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) that there was a positive COVID-19 exposure at Hillcrest on Dec. 13-14.
When there is an exposure, Interior Health will directly notify confirmed close contacts of the positive case with further instructions, including if they should self-isolate or self-monitor for symptoms of illness. If you are contacted by Interior Health, or receive a self-isolation/self-monitor letter, it is imperative that you follow their direction carefully. The most important thing for students and families to remember is that students who have any symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and get tested.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever/chills, shortness of breath, and loss of taste and smell. Most people experience only mild disease.A small number of people may experience a more moderate to severe illness requiring hospitalization.
COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. It may also be spread by touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
The Board of Education of School District No. 83 is committed to ensuring all of our students, staff and schools are safe. Please use all the layers of protection available to you.
This year’s Winter Production of “The Ugly Sweater” was a truly magical experience. All of our students should be extremely proud of their performance and the hard work that went into preparing for the show. Thank you everyone who came out to support their child and enjoy the show!
A show like this requires a team effort and takes a ton or work to put on, but it is totally worth it when you consider the lessons our students learn about perserverence, stepping out of their comfort zone, and working as a team. Congratulation to all of our students and staff on an outstanding show. Your hard work definitely payed off. A special thank you also goes out to Mr. Roberts and Mrs. Menzies for their vision and dedication to creating such an amazing opportunity for our students and the entire Hillcrest Community.
We are thrilled to announce that our CBC Music Class Challenge video “Safe and Sound” has been selected as a national finalist (Top 10) in the Elementary Vocal Grade 4-6 Category. The video has also reached over 3800 views on Youtube! The winners will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Way to go Hillcrest!
SD83 would like to share the information that the COVID-19 vaccination is now authorized by Health Canada for children five and older.
SD83 is supporting the efforts of Interior Health by sharing information about the vaccine and vaccine program from the BC Centre for Disease Control. Interior Health would like to stress that NO CHILD in this age group can be vaccinated without the parent/guardian pre-registering their child.
For further information: https://conta.cc/31yHkko