The Cowichan School District has released some of the new back-to-school protocols, in a letter sent by email to parents by District Superintendent Robyn Gray, and Cowichan Valley Medical Health Officer Shannon Waters.

Parents will not be allowed into schools without an appointment as part of an effort by the District and Island Health to make schools into what is called a “controlled environment.” 

“A controlled environment is one where we know who is coming and going from the buildings. This allows for protocols and routines to be well known and consistently applied by those interacting in the controlled environment.”

Before sending kids to school, parents and caregivers are asked to conduct a daily assessment of their health, and keep them home if they have any symptoms. 

The wearing of masks is required in areas where students are outside of their learning group, or in a shared space where physical distancing is not possible (such as a hallway). Other mask use in schools remains a personal decision, and the district encourages students and staff to use them as a quality choice.

The District has also purchased reusable masks for every student and staff member to use. These masks will be available at each school at the start of the year. If a child or staff member does not have one, or forgets their reusable mask, we will have an additional supply of disposable masks. 

Classroom etiquette includes no food or item sharing, ensuring all reusable food containers are taken home, and students remaining in their learning group.

In addition to ensuring a controlled environment, new portable hand washing stations will be available at all schools.

“We know that regular hand washing with soap and water is the best way to avoid transmission of many illnesses, including COVID-19. These new stations will also be supplemented by hand sanitizer and strict school entry procedures.”

New backpack-style electro-static cleaners were also purchased for District custodial teams. These cleaners increase both the effectiveness and speed at which cleaning can be done by helping regular disinfectant stick better to surfaces. The new equipment will supplement the already in-depth deep cleaning and surface cleaning that has been, and continues to be, done at every School.

On September 8th , school staff will be coming together to review the enhanced health and safety procedures, meet with the school-based health and safety teams, and finalize plans for the days and weeks ahead.

“Student learning is at the centre of this planning, and school health and safety protocols will be shared and reviewed by all learning groups. This will ensure a smooth transition back for students.”