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COVID-19 Updates

Communicable Disease Plan

The GNS Communicable Disease Plan includes important information outlining measures the school has in place to reduce the risk of transmission of communicable disease, as determined by the Ministry of Education and Child Care, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health (public health). Our shared experience at GNS over the past several years navigating the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to continue to be flexible and responsive to changes in communicable disease transmission trends, as well as develop proactive strategies for disease prevention and supports to minimize risk and negative impacts due to illness in our community. This plan has been developed with care and attention to providing a safe, positive and engaging educational experience for each of our students and nurturing the relationships and wellbeing of all members of our GNS community. As you review this document, please note the following:
  • We will continue to follow the guidance set by the Ministry of Education and Child Care, Public Health Office, BC Centre for Disease Control, and WorkSafe BC.
  • We will continue to emphasize full-time, in-class instruction for all students.
  • We are committed to using an inclusive and trauma-informed approach, with a focus on the health, wellness and safety of our community members.
  • We must remain committed to the prevention of communicable diseases by staying home when sick.
  • We are prepared to pivot as directed by the Ministry and PHO and adjust strategies as needed to support our community.
  • We will remain adaptive.
If you have any questions or concerns about our Communicable Disease Plan, please email

Archive of Updates

List of 15 news stories.

  • GNS is a mask friendly school.

    COVID-19 Update #14

    Welcome back! We are looking forward to welcoming our students back to campus for what is sure to be a busy and exciting Spring Term.
  • COVID-19 face mask

    COVID-19 Update #13

    Leading up to our Spring Break, we wanted to provide our community with an update regarding our COVID-19 protocols due to the changes to provincial restrictions announced by the PHO on March 12, 2022.
  • COVID-19 Update #12

    As we navigate the new realities of COVID-19, I know our community will continue to work together to ensure we can deliver an exceptional experience at GNS and for that, I will be forever grateful. 
  • COVID-19 Update #11

    Following on the news conference held on December 29 with Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's provincial health officer, we wanted to send out a brief update to our school community regarding our return to school in January.
  • As of Monday, December 6, 2021 we will be allowing a limited number of spectators for school concerts, athletic competitions, performances, and other activities where audience involvement has been encouraged and invited.

    COVID-19 Update #10

    We wish to provide an update to our GNS community regarding restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts on our school programs.
  • COVID-19 Update #9

    As you may already be considering your plans for the upcoming November or Winter breaks, we wanted to send along some helpful reminders in the spirit of keeping our community safe.
  • Covid-19 Update

    COVID-19 Update #8

    It has been truly wonderful to have all of our students and staff back on our campuses this month, and to feel the energy being injected back into our school.
  • COVID-19 Update #7

    We hope you are having a happy and safe Spring Break.
  • Enhanced COVID-19 Guidelines

    I would like to open this letter with a message of gratitude to all the members of our community who continue to work together as we navigate the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 Update #6

    The school’s winter break is about to begin and is typically a time we all look forward to enjoying a restful break and celebrating the holidays with friends and family.
  • COVID-19 Update #5

    Maintaining a healthy, safe and caring environment for our entire community continues to be our priority.
  • COVID-19 Update #4

    Thank you to all who supported our recent efforts to receive a variance permit from the City of Victoria
  • COVID-19 Update #3

    A reminder about what the communications process will look like in the event of a COVID-19 exposure at GNS.
  • COVID-19 Update #2

    Updates to the Sick Policy, Self-isolation and Quarantine section as well as to the Daily Health Screening Tool
  • COVID-19 Update #1

    It has been truly heartwarming to see all the happy students returning to our campuses this week…
View All News

Email Updates from GNS

List of 5 items.

  • Return to School Plan 082820

    Dear GNS Community,
    I hope this email finds you well and ready for the upcoming school year. As promised our Return to School Plan for September 2020 is now available for your to review. I would like to thank you all for your patience as we worked through the Ministry of Education and Public Health Office protocols to create a plan of which we can all be proud.
    As outlined in the Ministry of Education’s K-12 Education Restart Plan, released in early August, all schools in BC will start up in September in Stage 2. This will allow for the maximizing of in-class instruction for all students, while remaining within the revised public health guidelines designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. As a small school, GNS is well-positioned to adopt the Learning Group guidelines provided by the Ministry.
    Glenlyon Norfolk School, like other independent schools across BC, continues to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Ministry regarding the safe reopening of our school. As the health and safety of our community continues to be our primary focus, we want to ensure our families have the time they need to familiarize themselves with our Return to School Plan. Recognizing faculty and staff are returning to campus on Monday to continue with preparations for welcoming our wonderful students on September 9, I am pleased to share this plan with our community today. In the event that updates to these plans are required as a result of changes to Ministry or health and safety guidelines during the COVID-19 Pandemic, or that we are required to pivot to a different stage in the 5-Stages Framework for K–12 Education in BC, GNS will be sure to communicate this in a timely manner.
    I know you will have questions and I know our team looks forward to answering them in a timely manner! The Return to School Plan is a large and comprehensive document, but I wanted to provide as much detail and direction to our community as possible.
    After reviewing the plan, if you have questions or concerns about specific programs please refer to the Who to Contact section. We have also set up a Feedback Form for you to submit general questions or feedback.
    I look forward to seeing you all on campus, in a socially-distanced manner, this coming September!
    Kind regards,
    Chad Holtum
    Head of School
  • Update from the Head of School 081320

    Dear GNS Families,
    I hope this finds you all well and enjoying your summer. As promised, this message is to keep you updated as we continue to receive direction from the Public Health Office and the Ministry of Education regarding the reopening of schools in September.
    I am sure many of you heard the announcement made Tuesday by Education Minister Rob Fleming regarding their decision to push the start of the school year back from September 8 due to pressure from the BC Teachers’ Federation and other partner groups over concerns about teachers and staff needing more time to properly implement the pandemic guidelines. We have now confirmed through the ISABC (Independent Schools Association of British Columbia) that we do not have to follow this directive and I wanted to reassure you that we are still planning to open as per our original schedule on September 9. As you know, our task force groups have been meeting weekly throughout the summer to prepare for our opening. I am grateful for the dedication of these groups to ensure GNS is well prepared and ready for September. Our opening plan will be shared with all of you once it has received approval from the Ministry later in August as per my previous letter.
    Have a wonderful August and we are excited about welcoming our students back to our campuses this September.
    Kind regards,
    Chad Holtum
    Head of School
  • Update from the Head of School 073020

    Dear GNS Community,
    I trust you are all well and enjoying your summer. As promised in my last letter to you, I will keep you updated as we receive direction from the Public Health Office and the Ministry of Education regarding the reopening of schools in September.
    I am sure many of you heard the announcement made on July 29 by Education Minister Rob Fleming, provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, President of BC School Trustees Association, Stephanie Higginson, and the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, Andrea Sinclair, which declared that “In September 2020, all schools in British Columbia will reopen in Stage 2 of the Five Stages Framework for K-12 Education.” The Minister went on to state that “The classroom is an essential part of a child’s social, academic and mental development, and that’s why we are working hard to ensure students can safely spend the next school year with their teachers and classmates.”
    The health of our GNS community is of the utmost importance and thus the Operations and Student Experience branches of our GNS Return to School Task Force have been working on details for a safe return to learning for each stage of the Five Stage Framework.  As I mentioned in my last letter, these two groups are meeting weekly throughout the summer so that we can continue to build our plans as more information becomes available. I can’t thank them enough for their dedication. We are very grateful to have them all working together to ensure our school is safe and ready to welcome back students in September.
    The news yesterday was very positive and we are optimistic it will result in the full-time return for all our students to in-person five-day a week learning at GNS in September.
    A key component identified by the province in Stage 2 included the requirement to organize our community into learning groups in order to reduce the number of people each member of the school community will come into contact with, thus decreasing the risk of transmission and allowing for quicker contact tracing by health authorities. Though there are size restrictions when it comes to the number of individuals in each group, the learning groups can include students from multiple classes and be integrated in various ways for curricular and co-curricular activities as long as there are established health and safety measures in place. We are examining several potential scenarios for how to best structure our learning groups and want to reassure our families that safety will be the primary factor in the decision making process. We also recognize establishing an effective learning environment that supports the academic, socio-emotional and physical well-being of our students is critically important.
    As an independent school, we are required to implement health and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to align with the recently updated guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control. In addition, with the release of yesterday’s details, the ministry also acknowledged they are developing operational guidelines and resources to further assist schools with their planning for September. These documents are to be released in mid-August and are to be used by the school to complete a Restart Plan that outlines our approach to providing full in-class instruction for all students in September and that includes the ability to pivot between stages in the event it becomes necessary. This plan needs to be submitted to the ministry for review by late August and we would expect to receive approval of our approach by the end of August. We are grateful for the support and clarity provided by the Province of BC as we continue to finalize our plans for a safe return to school. We are committed to this timeline and appreciate your patience as we look forward to sharing at that time the details of our plan including specifics regarding schedules, learning groups, and health and safety protocols and procedures.
    Once GNS Restart Plan details have been released to our community, you will be encouraged to reach out to the principals with any questions or to discuss individual needs. We value your partnership and thank you for your continued support as we work to develop the best possible solutions for our community.
    Please watch for further communication from the school regarding our restart and, should you wish to learn more about the Provincial K-12 Education Restart Plan, please visit:
    Wishing you all the best in August and we look forward to seeing your children on campus in September!
    Kind regards,
    Chad Holtum
    Head of School
  • Update from the Head of School 070620

    Dear GNS Families,
    I trust you are safe and well and that you’ve had a chance to begin enjoying a much-deserved summer break.

    June 30 marked the close of a school year that was unlike any other in the history of GNS. The last three months have brought challenges to bear that were impossible to predict, let alone plan for. COVID-19 has changed so much about the way we interact, the way we live, and the way we learn. But what it hasn’t changed is the soul of our school. I’ve been so heartened and inspired by the ways this community has risen to meet every challenge, by how our staff remained committed to our students and our families, and by how our families supported the abrupt but necessary switch to distance learning. For that, I offer both my admiration and my gratitude.
    As I step into my role as Head of School, I wanted to share some important information as we look to the start of the 2020/2021 school year.
    Beach Drive Campus
    There continues to be a high level of optimism that our new main building at the Junior School will be ready to occupy this September. Once we know more details we will share them with you, but our teachers are packed up and ready to move in anticipation of this possibility.
    Relocation of the Learning Pavilions and the Tent Gym
    As our new building at our Beach Drive campus is expected to open in September 2020, the modular learning pavilions and the tent gym that our Junior School students have been using during the construction will need to be relocated. We are planning to move the gym and five of the classrooms to our Pemberton Woods campus for the coming school year, to the lawn adjacent to Denford Hall.
    It is our desire to have all of our students return to in-person on-campus learning in September. Like all schools, we will need to adhere to the provincial government’s health and safety guidelines with regard to physical distancing and the addition of these facilities will assist in the transition back to in-class learning. I must stress that this extra classroom space is not intended to result in an expansion of our student population. We are in the process of applying for a permit to proceed with this project with the City of Victoria and would hope to begin the installation of the structures in late July. We will let you know further details as soon as we can.
    Upgrades to Our Middle School Learning Commons
    Beginning in early-July, we will begin upgrades to our Middle School Learning Commons. This project involves seismic improvements as well as the installation of two large bay windows and that will help create a more warm and welcoming space for our students. The proposed rejuvenation will create a space for the whole Middle School community to come together—a Learning Commons that will be the heart of our Middle School.
    Through the incredible ongoing philanthropic support of our community, I am thrilled to share that we will be naming this area the “David Graham Learning Commons.” While I never got a chance to meet David, I have heard from many what a wonderful person he was and it is a privilege to tell you all that we are now able to honour his great legacy. David was the beloved first principal of our Middle School from 2005 to 2009. Under his leadership, our Middle School became a caring, values-based community that supports a remarkable environment for learning. If you would like to learn more about how to support this project please reach out to Mary Anne Marchildon at
    Restart Plans for September
    We will be ready to return to in-person learning in September for all grades on both campuses. We are expecting to be instructed by the Ministry of Education in late August what stage of the BC’s Education Restart Plan we will be operating in for the Fall Term. We hope that this will be Stage 1 which means 100% of our students at school 100% of the time with physical distancing and some restrictions on large gatherings like assemblies. However, we are also planning for the possibility of some form of hybrid instruction (Stage 2 to 4) as well as ensuring we have the ability to pivot back to distance learning should it be required (Stage 5) at any point during the school year. Incorporating the feedback solicited during the Spring Term and utilizing the recent training and knowledge gained by our teachers, I am confident that GO 2.0 (Gryphons Online version 2) will be outstanding, should it be required.
    As in previous years, each principal will reach out to their respective school families throughout the summer to provide more detailed information pertaining to any changes in staffing and programs. We know there will be some limitations on what programs and co-curriculars we will be able to offer, but we will provide the first-rate education we have all come to expect from GNS.
    We have created two task forces, one focussed on the Return to School and one on the Student Experience. These groups will meet weekly throughout the summer to plan for various scenarios. In addition to the guidance provided by our Leadership Team, we are also grateful for the ongoing support of the GNS Society and Foundation board members.
    Task Force Memberships
    Return to School Task Force:
    Focus on Operations (logistics, policies and procedures), Health & Safety, and Business Continuity
    Student Experience Task Force:
    Focus on the Student Experience: academic model, schedules, timetable, space planning, events, athletics and student life.
    • Chad Holtum, Head of School
    • Duncan Brice, PW Chair & PW Safety Coordinator
    • Dr. Deepa Singal, MSc. (Epidemiology), PhD (Public Health)
    • Chrissy Raniseth, CFO
    • Kim Holmes, Human Resources Director
    • Robin Bennett, Facilities and Maintenance
    • Sarah McKerlich, Director of Risk Management
    • Jean Bigelow, Junior School Principal & JS Chair
    • Gavin Bowers, Junior School Vice-Principal & JS Safety Coordinator
    • Damon Henry, Middle School Principal 
    • Doug Palm, Senior School Principal & PW Chair
    • Cheryl Alexander, Director, Marketing & Communications
    • Chad Holtum, Head of School
    • Cole Carlson, Deputy Head, Academics
    • Duncan Brice, PW Chair and PW Safety Coordinator
    • Doug Palm, Senior School Principal & PW Chair
    • Damon Henry, Middle School Principal
    • Kate Pagett, Middle School Vice-Principal
    • Jean Bigelow, Junior School Principal & JS Chair
    • Leanne Giommi, IB PYP Coordinator
    • Angie Girard, IB Diploma Coordinator
    • Samantha Goddard, Curriculum Coordinator, PW Campus
    • Julian Daniel, Director of IT
    • Harvey Thorau, Senior School Vice-Principal
    • Gina Simpson, IB MYP Coordinator
    • Trevor Mannion, Director of Enrolment
    • Cheryl Alexander, Director, Marketing & Communications
    We expect to communicate our complete September Restart Plan to families in late-August as soon as we have confirmation from the Ministry of Education and the provincial health officer regarding at what stage schools will open in September 2020. Rest assured that we will be ready for whatever comes our way and are looking forward to welcoming your children back to GNS.
    Our International Students
    To facilitate their safe return to our school community, all Family Boarding students who are exempt from travel restrictions will participate in a supervised quarantine organized by GNS which will follow all the requirements set by the government. The students will stay in boarding facilities with strict procedures in place. Once the quarantine is completed, Family Boarding students will move in with their host families. Any alternative quarantine arrangements made for Family Boarding students must be approved by the school.
    Moments to Celebrate
    This has been a year of learning and challenge, but also of achievement, and it was wonderful to help celebrate that during the recent Junior, Middle and Senior School closing events as well as our live-streamed Graduation Ceremony. It was especially rewarding to see many of our students with their families during the Junior School parade, the Grade 8 Goose Chase, and the Grad Photo Event where our Grade 12 students walked across a stage to receive their certificates.
    And last, but certainly not least, congratulations to the Class of 2020! This remarkable group of young people has accomplished so much during their time at GNS. Despite the challenges they faced due to the pandemic with significant changes in their learning and the cancellation of the traditional grad events, they persevered and finished their year in a manner that exemplified our core values of truth, courage, caring, individuality and community. These 70 Gryphons have earned 257 offers of acceptance from post-secondary institutions across Canada and around the world, an average of 3.6 per grad. They have chosen to attend schools as nearby as the University of Victoria, and as far away as Spain. And, collectively, they have earned offers of over $1,388,500 in scholarships. We are so proud of all of you and look forward to hearing about all of your upcoming adventures.
    Although we face a challenging year ahead, I know that, together, our strong community can weather the storm. Our international student numbers will rebound in time and our new local enrolment looks very promising. Although it is only early July, we have already registered more than 100 new local students for this September which is higher than what we had enrolled when we opened last September. We have been here for 107 years and we will be here for 107 more!
    I wish you all a wonderful summer.
    Chad Holtum
    Head of School
  • Important Updates to Families about June and September

    Dear GNS Families,
    To begin, I’d like to once again offer my gratitude for your willingness to work with us throughout these unprecedented times. I’ve lost track of all the examples I’ve witnessed of the amazing community we are all a part of at GNS, and I’ve so appreciated all of your emails and constructive feedback. As you know, we are partners in your child’s education, and this unique connection endures through graduation and beyond. Thank you for everything you do in support of our school.
    At this time, I’d like to share with you our plans for the school in the upcoming months.
    June 2020: Safe Return to Campus JK to 5
    We have created a “Return to Campus Task Force” that is working with our provincial and national independent school associations to develop strict protocols that will allow a safe return to campus for both students and staff. Our provincial association, the Independent Schools Association of British Columbia (ISABC), has been working closely with public health authorities and member schools in creating these policies. We are also working with Island Health to customize the Safe Return to Campus Plan for GNS. The mental and physical safety of our community is our number one priority. Jean Bigelow, our Junior School Principal, has been working with faculty and staff at the Beach to develop a program that combines some of the best elements of the previous on-campus experience with some new ideas that recognize our current circumstances. Jean has reached out to all JK to Grade 5 parents and students to learn which families are planning for their children to return to campus and she will communicate the full Safe Return to Campus Plan by the end of next week.
    Middle and Senior School
    In recommending a one-day a week return to school for Grades 6 to 12, we recognize that the government is trying to address challenges faced by many public schools across the province where systemic limitations have meant that online learning has not been delivered in the same manner as at GNS. Our Chromebook and laptop programs have meant that our students could meet with their teachers and peers each school day following their regular timetable. Without technology like that, many schools have only been able to interact with students in a very limited way.
    Our plan is to continue to deliver our GO! distance learning program to students in Grades 6 to 12 until the final day of classes on June 18 in the Middle School and June 16 for the Senior School. We feel this maximizes the teaching and learning time available to students in a way that a part-time return to campus could not. Any attempt to introduce one-day-a-week attendance for 20% of the student body, as would be required to maintain social distancing, would drastically reduce the ability of our teachers to maintain the same level of strong student-focused learning they are currently able to offer.
    Grade 5 Celebration
    To mark this important milestone, we plan to personally deliver to each Grade 5 student’s home their book award and PYP certificate on June 19. This will allow us, in a socially distanced way, to thank the Grade 5s for their leadership and wish them the very best as they move on to their next learning adventure at the Middle School.
    Grade 8 Celebration
    We are planning an exciting way to recognize the transition from Middle School to Senior School. In the next few days, Grade 8 families will receive a ‘save the date’ message with further details about this important celebration.
    Graduating Class of 2020
    On May 6, Premier Horgan made special reference to the fact that the graduating students of 2020 are being uniquely affected by this crisis, and I couldn’t agree more. A committee of Senior School staff, with the help of our Grad Prefect Polina Vitrouk and Alumni Coordinator (and GNS alumna) Zan Plews, are actively researching and planning different ways to celebrate our grads in safe but meaningful ways. High school graduation is an important rite of passage, and we will honour this special occasion in the best way possible. The details of our plans will be shared with our Grade 12 families next week.
    Planning for September 2020
    In addition to their planning for the June return to Beach Drive, the Return to Campus Task Force is also researching and creating plans in anticipation of the resumption of face-to-face instruction for all grades in September. Acknowledging that this will not mean a return to the “past normal,” we are planning for a variety of scenarios, the details of which will be shared with you in due course. One factor is determining how to make the best use of all the space available to us on both campuses while keeping the health and safety of everyone in our community our number one priority.
    Planning for September 2020 for International Families
    There are a number of additional considerations for our international families to consider when planning for a return to school in September. We will be sharing FAQs developed specifically for international students and their families early in the week of May 25. 
    GO! 2.0
    One thing that has been made clear by the Ministry is that we must plan to be nimble and flexible during the next 12 to 18 months. Should another school closure be mandated by the Provincial Health Officer during the 2020/2021 school year, we are confident we will be able to respond quickly. We have learned so much in the last several weeks, and we have a dedicated team of experts working to refine our distance learning for all grades to make sure that GO! 2.0 will be even more robust and inspiring if we need to call on it again.
    At the Middle and Senior School, the Academic Council and the Curriculum Leadership Team will develop plans to ensure continuity of learning for all students in the event we need to pivot back to distance learning on short notice. At the Junior School, classes on campus will be organized into a six-period per day timetable that will be maintained if we must return to distance learning. This is similar to the model the Middle School has been using very effectively over the last two months.
    2020/2021 Invoices
    In early April we sent an email to families outlining the steps the school has taken to provide additional financial support if required as a result of the pandemic. This includes more flexible payment options, increased financial aid and the opportunity to apply for short-term temporary assistance. We also extended the due date for next year’s tuition from May 29 to June 15. If you have any questions about our financial support options, please contact Chrissy Raniseth att or 250-370-6820. Invoices have now been uploaded to your child’s profile in Blackbaud, and payment is due by June 15. If you have any questions about the invoices or how to access them, please contact Karen Leach at or 250-370-6812. 
    Beach Drive Campus Construction Update
    In last week’s GNS News we shared a video highlighting the exciting progress being made at the Junior School. Things are moving very quickly and, according to our contractor, we are now ahead of schedule. There is even some discussion about the possibility of moving into the new Main Building this September! I share this with you very cautiously, as a number of things need to happen to make this a reality. Regardless, I can assure you that we will be moving into the new building by Christmas.
    I appreciate what a strange and challenging time this continues to be for all of us, and I want you to know that we have a plan to safely and effectively continue providing a first-class educational experience for all our students, whether in-person, online or in a hybrid-model as our circumstances require. Your child’s safety—physical, emotional and mental—will always come first. We are so privileged that your family has chosen us for your educational journey, and we all look forward to continuing that journey together.
    Thank you for your ongoing support.
    Chad Holtum
    Incoming Head of School

Glenlyon Norfolk School

Junior School (JK to Grade 5)

Middle (Grade 6 to 8) and Senior (Grade 9 to 12) Schools

We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.