Last summer, two teams of highly experienced and qualified professionals spent hundreds of hours working on our GNS Return to School Plan to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and maintain a safe and healthy school environment for students, families and staff. To say that I am proud of their work would be an understatement. These dedicated professionals have ensured this plan is evidence-based, follows recommendations required by Public Health and the BC Ministry of Education, and best practices from BC Centre for Disease Control. I am extremely grateful for their time and commitment to guide our community through these unprecedented times. I would particularly like to acknowledge Duncan Brice and Cole Carlson who chaired our early task forces and so ably led the development of this plan. Since that time the school’s Senior Leadership Team and COVID Task Force continue to meet regularly to ensure the contents of the plan reflect the current conditions for the school community under the guidance of the PHO and Ministry.
The foundation of GNS lies in our Core Values of Truth, Courage, Caring, Individuality and Community and I know these principles guided each member of our task forces as they worked through the different aspects of our plan. We have integrated our learning from the June re-opening of our Junior School, the fall reopening, and the previous months including before and after holiday breaks with guidance from health and Ministry officials, as well as various independent school organizations. Our very successful on-site summer, winter, and spring break programs gave us an opportunity to refine and prove our protocols to ensure we would be ready to welcome our students back to campus.
Based on the current epidemiology of COVID-19 in BC and the fact that children are at much lower risk of developing and transmitting COVID-19, we believe it is in the best interests of students to be back for in-person teaching and learning. While school closures were an essential part of the early pandemic response, current evidence from modelling data provided by the PHO and experience in schools support children being in school in a manner that maximizes children’s health and wellbeing and minimizes risk from a public health perspective.
Based on our consultation with the Ministry of Education, what follows is our plan that outlines how we will operate our two campuses and run our school for the foreseeable future. It is important to note that our plans and guidelines may adapt to changes in our current context and new advice from the Ministry and the Medical Officer of Health. Please know that the safety of our community and providing the high-quality GNS education we all expect remain our top priorities. That being said, daily routines at school will look different this year. At GNS we pride ourselves on creating a learning environment where everyone is known and respected, where kids can thrive and find their passions. I am confident that this aspect of our school will not change despite the pandemic and the adjustments we have all had to make, and I know that our faculty and staff are excited to have all of our students on campus for in-class learning.
While we are thrilled to have students returning to campus, we are very aware that school will feel different and that students will have varied comfort levels with the new reality. In that regard, should your child be struggling with the changes, please don't hesitate to contact us. We have worked hard to put extra precautions in place and to ensure both of our campuses have enhanced health and safety measures as outlined in this Return to School handbook. We have also been busy planning ahead should GNS be required by Public Health Officials and the Ministry of Education to shift to a different stage of the Five Stages Framework for K-12 Education
We are looking forward to the remainder of the year and are ready to take on the challenges that we know will come with it. Together I know we can make this year a memorable one for our students.
Head of School