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.
We are fortunate that Vancouver Island has had comparatively low COVID-19 infection rates and high vaccination rates; however, there are still some regions within BC, elsewhere in Canada, and internationally where numbers of COVID-19 infections continue to be high. Travel to and from many regions may still be restricted to “for essential purposes only.” Therefore it is important that you “Know before you go.”
If you are considering a trip in the near future, we strongly encourage you to take extra precautions, especially when visiting communities where infection rates are high.
The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to follow the guidelines and Orders as established by the Public Health Office of BC, which include, among others, getting vaccinated if eligible, staying home when ill, wearing masks, and frequent handwashing. You may wish to consider postponing trips to areas where the incidence of COVID-19 is high. For some, we recognize that this may not be feasible and that people may have unavoidable circumstances where travel is necessary.
Please be aware that although travel restrictions have been lessened or lifted for some areas, there are still many places where travel is restricted, limited or requires extensive protocols to be followed. These may include vaccinations, specific types of testing for COVID-19 before and after travel, monitoring, isolation and/or quarantine periods, or submitting documentation. For international travel there are certain requirements, particularly for those who are not deemed fully vaccinated which, at the time of this message, includes most children under the age of 12 in Canada, who may be ineligible to attend school for 14 days after travelling (see Resource #3 below).
As such, if you must travel, please check the risk levels specific for your destination and plan your trip accordingly. Please check these government sites often as things continue to change frequently.
For additional information regarding travel, please see the following resources:
- BC Government: Travel and COVID
- Government of Canada: Travel and Tourism
- COVID-19: For unvaccinated children under 12 without symptoms and travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) awareness: Resources
- PHO Provincial and Regional Restrictions
Regardless of whether you stay at home or choose to travel, following strict safety protocols will help to keep our community safe. For those of you considering an upcoming trip, we wanted to share some additional insights from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) and Transport Canada.
Before you Travel
As you think about making travel plans, consider these questions:
- Is COVID-19 spreading at your destination? The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel.
- Are you at increased risk for severe illness? Anyone can get COVID-19, but those who are unvaccinated, older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Do you live with someone who's at increased risk for severe illness? If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the virus to the people you live with when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.
Tips to Stay Safe
We recommend following these steps to protect yourself and others if you choose to travel:
- “Know before you go.” Check with the places you are hoping to visit (e.g., hotels, restaurants, parks, camping, hosting venues, attractions or ticketed events) to get the latest information on closures or restrictions for out of town visitors. Stick to places where comprehensive COVID-19 safety plans exist.
- Be respectful of communities you plan to visit.
- Be prepared to practice the local public health guidance and precautions while away. Some communities, businesses and settings may have stricter protocols in place than those stated by the PHO.
- If you or a member of your travel group becomes sick while travelling, self-isolate and call 8-1-1 for guidance.
- Be especially vigilant in busy settings.
GNS continues to follow the direction of BC’s Public Health Officer as this pandemic continues to evolve. It will not be the school’s position to enforce stricter measures regarding personal travel on our community over and above the requirements dictated by our provincial and federal authorities. We request that our families follow all of the guidelines and protocols for travel as posted by these authorities including that children do not attend school if/when the guidelines dictate.