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.
Though we had hoped for things to be even more back to “normal” this fall, we are grateful for your support of the Communicable Disease Guidelines
we shared prior to the start of school. Our academics and co-curriculars are off to a great start, and our staff have once again been quick to modify activities as required to accommodate the current COVID-19 procedures. I am confident, based on our experience from last year, that all of our staff and families will continue to do their best to keep our entire community as healthy and safe as possible.
This morning, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Whiteside announced some changes to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings
with regards to the use of masks in schools. Beginning on Monday, October 4, all students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 are required to wear a mask indoors in schools and on school buses. This is a change from the original Order when masks were only required for Grades 4 to 12. Our First Steps and Junior Kindergarten students remain exempt from the mask order; except while on school buses or if showing symptoms of illness.
We are proud and impressed with how our community is following our protocols and procedures. Please remember to use firstname.lastname@example.org
to submit questions or comments. The following addresses some of the questions we have received from parents:
What happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community?
In the event a student or staff member is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 where exposure to others on GNS premises has occurred, the school will follow the guidance of Island Health regarding all recommendations to contain possible COVID-19 exposure. Further actions for the school and especially for those in the classroom or otherwise in close contact with the suspected COVID-19 positive person will be dictated by these authorities and will likely include initiatives such as contact tracing, quarantine and/or isolation procedures. It is important to note that vaccination status and whether individuals live together in a household unit play major factors in the determination of self-isolation or quarantine requirements.
Public statements and communications to parents/caregivers, staff and board members containing public health messaging, including references to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 within the school community, must be reviewed and approved by the Island Health prior to release, and we will follow their guidance when preparing an appropriate communication to our community. GNS will ensure that staff, students and families who are impacted directly are treated with respect, fairness and compassion with a focus on dignity and the protection of their privacy.
Should my child attend school if they have mild symptoms of illness?
Maintaining a healthy, safe and caring environment for our entire community continues to be our priority. To that end we want to remind parents and guardians to perform a Daily Health Assessment (the K-12 Health Check
is a useful tool) prior to making the decision of whether or not to send your child(ren) to school. Students, staff or other adults should stay at home when sick, as this is one of the most important ways to reduce the introduction to and the spread of communicable diseases in schools. The following resources provide guidance regarding specific symptoms of illness:
What happens if my child gets sick at school?
We are now back into school full swing in BC, and with that comes regular cold/flus that are common in school populations. Given that the symptoms can be similar to those linked to COVID-19, but also that there is COVID-19 continuing to be present in the general population, it is very important that students and staff stay home when ill. For a more detailed explanation of GNS’ protocols relating to a child experiencing symptoms of illness at school, please refer to the Sick Policy, Staying Home, Self-isolation
in our Communicable Disease Plan.
What if our family is required to travel over a break from school?
The school's position on this topic is to request that our families follow all of the guidelines and protocols for travel as posted by the federal government. In many cases, travel is restricted to being for essential reasons only. If you must travel, please check the risk levels specific to your destination and plan your travel accordingly (pay close attention to details of vaccination and/or testing requirements for entry/exit and associated timelines as these can impact school attendance).
Are schools allowed to hold in-person gatherings and events?
Yes, schools can continue to hold in-person gatherings and events in line with those permitted by the relevant local, regional, provincial and federal public health guidelines and Orders. In addition, organizers will work closely with our contacts in the Health Authority to ensure that when we do hold events at the school, it is done in the safest way possible in alignment with the guidelines provided. GNS has been keeping a trauma-informed lens when planning the gradual transition to the return to any such events and will continue to adjust the format of activities as needed to ensure they run in safe ways and that they accomplish educational objectives. This may include making use of virtual alternatives, live-streaming, breaking into smaller group sizes, holding events outdoors, or restricting the duration of the activity.