Day or Mourning

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On Tuesday April 28 the flags at Hillcrest Elementary School will be flown at half mast in recognition of the National Day of Mourning. This day commemorates workers who have been killed or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and incidents.

District Music Challenge

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Join other Canadian children in song with professional vocal coach Jasmine Denham in this CBC Project Inside Voices.  It’s easy to participate.  Simply go to the website below and watch the latest video that will guide your family through the project.  Each week a new video will be added to move you along.  Be sure to be extra-creative and CBC may just decide to broadcast your video if you choose to share it.

https://www.cbc.ca/music/events/canadian-music-class-challenge/challenge-your-kids-to-raise-their-inside-voices-in-song-1.5531690

Video 1 (April 17): Vocal Warm-up

Video 2 (April 24): The Craft of Singing

Video 3 (May 1): Learn the Song

Video 4 (May 8): Record and Share Your Song

May 13: Upload your project

At the end of the project you will have the option to upload to social media using the hashtags #CBCMusicclass and #cbckids.  Remember that you will need your parent’s permission to share any of your work online.

Please feel free to send your project to our Music Teacher here at school as well!

Easing children’s anxiety

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Health’s EASE team has been hard at work adapting EASE classroom activities for use at home by parents and caregivers to support children’s mental health and continuous learning.

EASE at Home is a collection of fun and practical strategies to help guide parents and caregivers in managing their children’s anxiety and worries in the comfort of their home during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The links below include suggestions for fun and engaging activities:

EASE at Home – Grades K– 3

EASE at Home – Grades 4 – 7

For more everyday activities and resources to help support continuous learning while families are home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, view the Ministry of Education’s Keep Learning BC website https://www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/ and First Nations Education Steering Committee’s website. http://www.fnesc.ca/continuous-learning/  

More information is available at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/ease

Supporting essential services

Part of the government’s direction to school districts during this challenging time is to provide some support for the children of Tier 1 essential service workers who have no other child care options. This has caused some confusion with parents as many are on the essential services list, but not necessarily in the Tier 1 group. Hopefully the following information will help provide clarity.

Click on this link for more details.

COVID-19 School Supply Pick-up

Dear Hillcrest Families,

I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. Our teachers have thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with families this week. Thank you for making these calls such a positive experience for them and for the overwhelming show of support as we navigate these uncharted waters. Below is a link to an important letter regarding our plans to have a family member come to school on Monday April 6 or Tuesday April 7 next week to pick up your child’s personal belonging/school supplies. Please read it carefully and contact the school at (250) 832-7195 if you have any questions or concerns. 

LINK: COVID-19 School Supply Pick-up

Sincerely, 

Gord Ritchie

(Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School)

 

Calling all families

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We just wanted to let parents know that with the unprecedented number of phone calls teachers are making to students and parents, many of these calls will not be coming from our school phone number.

Some of the calls may show up as No Caller ID.

Some will show up on your call display as (236) 600-9089.

Please answer as it will be a teacher attempting to contact you. Thanks!

If you missed Monday’s letter to parents explaining about the phone calls please click here.

Teacher Phone Calls

Dear Hillcrest Families,

I hope this email finds you well and staying healthy. On behalf of all our staff I would like to send our thoughts and best wishes to each of our Hillcrest Families in these challenging times. As communicated through the SD83 emails you have received, beginning this morning teachers will be reaching out by phone to each of our families.  Please note, due to a new phone system we are using the call will most likely show up as coming from an unlisted number with NO CALLER ID.

Our goal is to contact each family as soon as possible, however, there are some factors that can make this task challenging for us. Firstly, our district has a limited number of phone lines available, as a result, it is not possible for every teacher in the district to make calls at the same time. To help ensure phone lines will be available a calling schedule has been developed. Most phone calls from Hillcrest will be taking place according to the following schedule. Please try to be available during these times if possible.

  • Tuesday: 10:00-12:00
  • Wednesday: 8:00-10:00 and 2:00-4:00
  • Thursday: 12:00-2:00
  • Friday: 10:00-12:00

Finally, in order to contact each of our families as soon as possible you may be contact by a different staff member than you child’s teacher. This does not mean that your child’s classroom teacher doesn’t want to talk to you or won’t be reaching out to eventually, we are just being as efficient as possible with our limited calling windows and resources available. In fact, teachers were very disappointed that they may not be the first one to contact each of their students.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate our new reality. The support we have received from our community so far has been amazing. Please feel free to call the school at (250) 832-7195 if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Gord Ritchie

Principal – Hillcrest Elementary School

Parent contacts

Taking steps to keep kids learning during in-class school suspension

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, B.C. has suspended all in-class instruction until further notice. This means as spring break ends, please do not bring your children to school.

On Monday, March 30 parents will be receiving an emailed letter from SD83 with further information and initial learning opportunities for your child. Staff will be working this week to assess needs and further develop plans.
You will soon be contacted by telephone by your child’s teacher.

SD83 would also like to share this information received from the Ministry of Education:

New guidelines for school leaders and a new website are being introduced to support B.C.’s K-12 students while in-class education is suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a challenging time for families in B.C. as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is vital students have a sense of routine and continued opportunities to learn while they are at home,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “These guidelines will ensure the needs, health and safety of students are put first as school leaders actively plan to serve the unique needs of their communities.”

While in-person classes are suspended, the B.C. school system remains open to continue to support students and families in a variety of ways. Note that parents should not bring their children to school on Monday, March 30, 2020, as they usually would after spring break.

However, essential frontline health-care workers, like those directly involved in patient care, who need urgent care for their school-aged child the week of March 30 are advised to contact their school principal as soon as possible to discuss care arrangements available during the first week back after spring break. Other parents who are deemed an essential service worker and who may need child care for their school-age children can expect to hear from their school regarding care options by Friday, April 3, 2020. Schools will be doing their best to accommodate urgent child care needs while meeting the guidelines and directives of the provincial health officer.

Since there are many students who will have challenges working online, schools have been directed to look at alternative approaches for continued learning that will fit with the individual needs and circumstances of their communities. School leaders are actively working on these plans, and families will hear from their school superintendent and/or school principal in the coming week with an update on their timelines.

Government is working with all 60 school boards, independent school authorities, First Nations schools, teachers, school leaders, support staff, public health officials and all education partners on a co-ordinated approach. Guidelines for developing education plans for students will follow these principles:

  1. Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees.
  2. Provide the services needed to support children of essential workers.
  3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
  4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

These principles will also guide planning and support for students who need extra learning support or those with disabilities, important services like meal programs and child care services operating on school grounds.

“Boards of education across the province are working on ways to ensure continuity of learning in their communities,” said Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association. “Local boards of education understand the unique needs in each community. That local connection will be key as boards roll out plans tailored to each school district in the province.”

While teachers and schools will have primary responsibility for continuous learning, government has launched Keep Learning BC. This is a central place where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, annotated links to free learning resources, as well as how to help children learn and how to ensure their well-being while they are at home. Keep Learning BC is available at: www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/

The Keep Learning BC website will have helpful guides to maintain routines and stay safe online, giving parents information about how talk to their children about COVID-19, along with other mental health resources to manage stress or anxiety. A comprehensive set of frequently asked questions is also available, with continuous updates about school services and programs as things progress: www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools/

Fleming added, “While it’s important for kids to keep learning, there is no expectation that we can duplicate a normal school day at home, and every family will need to figure out what works best for them, in discussion with their children’s teachers. I understand that many children are experiencing anxiety, while also missing their teachers and friends, and that’s why it’s important they know the actions we’re taking are designed to keep everyone safe, and we will return to regular school life down the road. By working together and supporting each other, we will get through this.”

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said, “We are proud of the parents, families and school communities who are working together to keep their children safely at home, and recognize how important it is for children to have continued learning opportunities in these challenging times. Parents who are health-care workers are also eagerly waiting for support, and it’s our job to work as a team to make sure they can continue their essential services.”

Quote:

Andrea Sinclair, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils —

“The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is truly appreciative of the united effort that is being undertaken across the education sector resulting in the continuity of an educational program while our children are at home. Parents understand that alternative instruction plans are being created to best meet the needs of children and that learning will vary by grade, district and region. As we try to maintain a daily routine in our homes, including academics and recreation, parents acknowledge that educators play a critical role supporting our children during this extraordinary time.”

Quick Facts:

  • On March 17, 2020, under the direction of the provincial health officer, all schools were ordered to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice. 
  • Every student in K-12 will receive a final mark for the 2019-20 school year, and all students who are on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall. Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this school year will also graduate. On average, about 45,000 students graduate every year.
  • The Ministry of Education is also working across government to ensure all students graduating high school will have a smooth transition to post-secondary education.

Learn More:

Students, parents, guardians and teachers can find learning resources and accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions at: www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools/

A new website is constantly being updated with the latest information: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19

The best source of COVID-19 health information can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

For non-health-related questions, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19, email servicebc@gov.bc.ca, or call 1 888 COVID-19

For those who think they have symptoms of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has developed an online self-assessment tool at: https://covid19.thrive.health
People with symptoms can also call 811 to pre-arrange health testing.

If children are struggling with a problem big or small, encourage them to call the Kids Help Line, a free resource available at 1 800 668-6868.

For a traditional Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Continued_Learning_during_COVID19_Mar27.Chinese.pdf

For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/COVID19_March27_Continued_Learning_during_COVID_Punjabi.pdf

The letter from the Government of B.C. can be found here

B.C Suspended all in-class instruction until further notice

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Dear Hillcrest Families,

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy in these challenging times. Please see the message above regarding the suspension of in-class instruction in BC. We look forward to connecting with our families by phone soon to assess needs and further develop plans for continuity of learning. If you have any immediate questions or concerns please call the school at (250) 832-7195.

Sincerely,

Gord Ritchie

 

Update from Superintendent

Dear Parents and Guardians, 

We hope this update finds you and your family healthy, and that you are doing what you need to do to stay safe in this challenging time. Our paramount concern, as always, is the well-being of our community and all of those within it.  

By now, you have likely seen numerous announcements from Federal and Provincial authorities, and you are aware that in-person instruction has been suspended in our province’s schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though our District is currently on spring break, planning has begun at the District level to determine what continuity of learning might look like after staff return to work next week.  

Once staff are available, principals and teachers will need some time to assess their capacity to provide opportunities for learning without meeting face to face with students. As part of this preparation process, you can expect a call from your school by the middle of next week. These calls will give staff an opportunity to check in with students and inquire about student access to technology, which will help inform potential next steps.   

As well, this contact will also help staff plan for exceptions to campus closure. These exceptions will include scheduled access for students who need to retrieve school supplies or personal items left in the building prior to spring break. Exceptions may also include options for service to children with complex learning needs as determined by the School District, or for younger students who have identified parents who work in an essential service as defined by the Provincial Government.  

Please note that opportunities for learning in this new environment will be very different than they would be if we were in session as normal and will vary depending on student age and readiness. Potential options may include: 

  • Conversations between teacher and students conducted by phone or communication apps 
  • Email exchanges between teachers and students 
  • Learning packages emailed to parents 
  • Introduction of the Microsoft Teams networking platform for group meetings 
  • Expanded use of the Moodle and MyBlueprint learning platforms 
  • Use of other learning and communication platforms 

Above all else, we recognize this may be an incredibly stressful time for families, and it may be difficult for students to focus on learning. While the suspension of in-class learning continues in its current form, our schools will provide resources and activities that you may access and use in a manner that best fits your family’s needs.  

For more information, please consult our School District website, where we will post the most recent updates and links to other sources. I would also ask you to keep in mind that this is a rapidly changing situation, and that Federal or Provincial authorities could change the way we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic on short notice.   

Once again, we encourage you to stay healthy and safe, and we look forward to the eventual return of students to our schools.  

In support of our communities, 

Peter Jory
Superintendent/CEO
School District No.83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

When will learning opportunities for students begin?
Though our District is currently on spring break, planning has begun at the District level to determine what continuity of learning might look like. The Ministry of Education is developing an integrated planning framework to assist in local planning. When principals and teachers return to the schools on Monday, March 30, they will need some time to assess their capacity to offer different types of learning opportunities. As part of this preparation process, you can expect a call from your school by the middle of next week. These calls will give staff an opportunity to check-in with students and inquire about student access to technology, which will help determine potential next steps.

I am an essential service worker. Can my child go to school?
The District is working on a plan to support the important work being done by our essential service workers. Please communicate your essential worker role and potential need for this type of support when your school reaches out to you.

My child has special needs.
The District is also working on a plan to support students with specific special needs. School staff will engage with you about your student’s IEP and what that support may look like.

Will my child graduate?
Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. Students who are in Grade 12 and not yet eligible for graduation will receive priority support so that they can meet necessary graduation requirements. The only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. The Ministry will ensure Grade 12 students who have not yet completed this assessment and who are otherwise on track to graduate have the opportunity to meet this requirement.

The Ministry has also promised to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with post-secondary institutions on admissions and the smooth transition of graduating students for next year.

Will my child pass?
Students who are currently eligible for transition to the next grade will move forward with their peers. Students who are not yet eligible will receive priority support.

Are school playgrounds closed?
In an effort to slow down the ongoing spread of COVID-19 School District No. 83 will be closing its playgrounds and playstructures, as will most local city and community organizations. Trails and fields will remain open; however, please follow the Provincial Health Officer’s orders on social distancing.

My child forgot something at school or needs school supplies. Can I go to the school and pick them up?
Please do not return to school to pick up resources or personal effects until contacted by school staff. A schedule will be prepared by each school, following the Provincial Health Officer’s social distancing guidelines, to allow for the safe pick up of resources and personal belongings.

Will children’s breakfast/lunch programs be continuing?
When schools are in session many schools in our district offer breakfast programs. These programs will not be continued in their current form for the remainder of the suspension of in-class learning.

Is the School District office open?
The District Education Support Centre (DESC) is closed to the public but staff are working. You are welcome to call in if you have questions or concerns. The number is 250.832.2157.

What are the services and resources available to parents, students and staff to learn about COVID-19 and combat the spread of it?

• B.C. has launched a new non-medical information line for British Columbians who have questions about COVID-19. Call 1-888-COVID19. Phone lines are open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and information is available in more than 110 languages.

• B.C.’s website has many resources available at http://www.gov.bc.ca/covid19

• The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website also has many resources for British Columbians at http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/

What can everyone do to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Each of us has a role to play in reducing the spread of this virus and protecting the people we love. The most important thing people can do to limit the spread of the virus are:

  • Stay home as much as possible and limit contact with other people.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face

What are the options for COVID-19 testing?

  • Testing is available for all who need it, but not everyone requires a test. No test is needed if you have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or are returning traveller self-isolating at home.
  • Testing continues to focus on those who are part of an active investigation or outbreak cluster, those who are hospitalized, and residents of long-term care facilities and health-care workers.
  • The COVID-19 testing strategy in B.C. is being adapted to ensure testing is available to those who need it most. Testing will focus on people in hospitals, long term care facilities and those involved in ongoing investigations around identified cases. Health autorities will announce new testing centres in the coming days.
  • The Province is developing plans for mobile testing sites conducted by regional health authorities.

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