Many of you would have seen the article published by Castanet, yesterday. Our Superintendent, Mr. Peter Jory, has responded to it from both a district and M.V. Beattie perspective. Below is the response in its entirety.
I want to thank our parent community for the support you have shown, but sadly we continue to see a decrease in enrolment. As I have mentioned before, these are difficult decisions. We have come to accept the fact that an effort “to save our division” would be to simply to pass the problem to another community. As a staff, we understand that is unacceptable given that we have lost more students than almost all other elementary schools in our district. While we are saddened by this situation, we are ready to move forward and create adaptations that will continue to show the support and caring that you have come to expect from our school. One thing that has not changed is the commitment we have made to create a great year for your children. I will be sending a letter home tonight with a timeline for these changes and any new developments.
Mr. Jory’s Response:
“The surplussing of teachers is a standard practice whenever there is a mismatch between our staffing as based on projections and the students who actually show up.
We start considering student enrollment and classroom organization charts as soon as students are in our buildings, then begin to communicate with principals if we see numbers that are concerning. This year, we have had additional volatility in our enrollment, and we were forecasting surplusses in the range of 12-18 teachers, given our district budgets and typical Ministry enrollment procedures.
With the recently announced flexibility of the Ministry’s transitional enrollment strategy and the infusion of Federal funding which can be used to support online staffing, we are in a much better place and have landed on just three reductions for now, at the schools with the largest enrollment drops. These decisions have limited the impact across the District, but they have come at substantial financial cost. Given the additional expenses required by our District Safety Plan and staffing adjustments mentioned, even with the additional provincial and federal funding in place, we expect to experience significant financial pressures this year.
In the case of M.V. Beattie, enrollment has dropped significantly below projections so there now more than 30 spaces, even when we count students whose parents who have indicated their interest in returning sometime during the school year. If we do not count those students, which would be our normal practice, the number of available seats approaches 50. The two other schools experiencing a teacher reduction at this time are Shuswap Middle School and Highland Park Elementary.
The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District has enjoyed several consecutive years of increased enrollment prior to this year, and has added staffing through reorganization of classes each September as a result of those increases.“
We are looking forward to welcoming our North Okanagan-Shuswap StrongStart families back to our programs starting on Thursday, October 1st. StrongStart is a free early learning program for preschool children, 0 to 5 years old, and their parent or caregiver. There will be COVID-19 guidelines in place at all programs to ensure the safety of our families, StrongStart educators, and school community.
Registration for all SD83 StrongStart programs will open on Thursday, September 17th, 2020 and will be ongoing
If your child was previously registered in a StrongStart program in our district, please call the school to indicate that you and your child are interested in attending the StrongStart program again this school year
If your child is new to StrongStart, please phone the school to request a time to come in and complete the registration process
Interested families will need to choose one program to attend as we will not be supporting participation at multiple programs due to COVID-19
After a lot of last-minute phone calls, registrations and health and safety preparations, we are now only one sleep away from a return to having our kids back in school! I hope that most of you have already received a “Welcome Back” email from your child’s new teacher and have a sense of what is in store for the coming days (if you haven’t seen it, please check your spam folder – or even your child’s school email.
Parents/guardians of our incoming kindergarten students have already received your Gradual Entry message a couple of weeks ago, so you should know the Group your child belongs to and what time you start tomorrow.
For all others (gr. 1-6), we will be starting at 8:10 (Welcoming Bell) and finish the day at 2:11pm.
Parent Connect (Sign off for Health Check and other forms)
If you are new to Parent Connect – or perhaps just forgotten your password – you can go to our website and under the Parent drop down menu you will find a “how to” tutorial for how to use Parent Connect. Please do your very best to read the Health Check thoroughly and then by clicking on it you will have accepted responsibility for ensuring that you will follow these important guidelines to ensure student and staff safety. While you are in Parent Connect, there are other forms (like Walking Field Trip form, internet access, etc.) that you may also complete in one sitting! Thank you for doing this – it will allow a smoother entry to school tomorrow.
Arrival at MVB
For students who arrive to school by foot, bike or “parent/guardian taxi,” we ask that you please have your children arrive as close to the bell as possible – and also go directly to the line-up area outside of this year’s classroom.
Staff will be outside helping students find their classrooms – feel free to ask any of us if you are uncertain of your destination.
We ask parents to please be respectful of physical distancing – both around the children and among yourselves. For the time being, we are unable to allow parents to enter the classrooms. We hope this will change in the not-too-distant future.
Please go over the health check with your child, prior to arrival.
Please have your child bring a water bottle (best if you put a name on it).
Drop offs and pick-ups should be as close to the start and end of the day as possible, so that we can avoid big gatherings.
For many of our kids, tomorrow will be the first time they have returned since last March. We share their excitement for the return to school. There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in our building as we strive to turn a “different year” into a “memorable year.”
I want to thank parents/guardians for the trust you have in our staff. That is true every year – thought this year it takes on a greater significance. We have gone to great lengths to reduce risk and will continue to adapt to the changes that come our way. While it is true that we are optimistic about the great year ahead, I don’t want you to believe we are guided by our hopes; it is in the imagining, predicting, problem-solving and planning that continues to boost our confidence in the year ahead.
Please check your email, spam or child’s school email for the back to school welcome letter from our teachers.
Morning Class Begins
Students go Outside to Play
Outside Play Ends
End of Day Dismissal
We look forward to seeing our Wild Cats! Classes begin on Thursday September 10th. If you did not receive any emails from the school, please contact us.Parents of students in grades 1-6 will receive an email on Wednesday September 9th (today), informing you and your child which classroom to go to. Please know that as our enrollment numbers fluctuate that class placements may change.
We encourage all parents to review M.V.Beatties’s Return to School Safety Plan found on our website at https://mvb.sd83.bc.ca/
Please drop off your child(ren) as close to our morning bell at 8:10. The end of our learning day bell rings at 2:11 pm.
Happy New School Year Wild Cat Nation!
August 31, 2020
Dear M.V. Beattie families,
I would like to thank parents/guardians for taking the time to fill out the Return to School survey, and for the thoughtful consideration of what is in the best interests of your children and your family as a whole. I know for many families this was a difficult decision. I want to reassure everyone that we will continue to do everything we can to prepare for a healthy school experience.
Site Safety Plan-
The change to the start of the year will enable our staff to have a couple of days to make sure that we are all fluent in our health and safety processes and feel confident about welcoming our students back.
AM ☐ ☐PM
Do you have a fever?
Yes ☐ ☐No
Do you have a cough?
Yes ☐ ☐No
Do You have congestion?
Yes ☐ ☐No
Do you have nasal drip?
Yes ☐ ☐No
Are you Sneezing?
Yes ☐ ☐No
Do you have any difficulty breathing
Yes ☐ ☐No
Is anyone in your household ill?
Yes ☐ ☐No
This past June, prior to sending your child to school, you were required to fill out a “health ticket” – in an effort to ensure a safe environment for our children. Students entering a bus needed to show the driver that this has been filled out, and then they provided it to their teachers as they entered the classroom. Students who were dropped off by parents or walked to school also needed to provide their tickets to the classroom teacher. Students arriving late, needed to come through the main entrance to provide the ticket to one of our office staff.
In September, 2020 parents will be able to go to Parent Connect and sign off that they understand/accept the rules regarding the “health ticket” and will NOT send their child to school if the answer is “Yes” to any of those questions. This will mean that we won’t have the same need to handle up to 300 tickets per day – and will create fewer challenges that occur due to forgetting to have them signed each day of the week.
Students will line up outside of their classrooms – at a distance from one another. Upon entering the classroom, one at a time, students will go directly to a classroom sink to wash their hands. With any change of environment (back from recess/lunch, music class or gym, etc.) and prior to returning home, students will wash their hands. Students and staff will also have access to hand sanitizer in every classroom.
While our goal will be to reinforce the expectations of physical distancing, we know with younger children that it will be near impossible to maintain a 6’ separation at all times. Throughout the province, in our elementary school environments, we have been told to focus on minimizing “physical contact.” Students will have daily reminders of the importance to “keep hands off.”
Day Time Custodial Support
We will have day time custodians at M.V. Beattie which will allow us to maintain an effective cleaning routine. Bathrooms, classrooms, desks, door knobs and other high frequency contact points will be a part of this routine.
In order for us to focus our custodial time on maintaining the cleaning schedules, we will be asking for students to bring their lunch/snack wrappers and recycling home in their lunch kits.
Staggered Drop Off/Pick Ups
Students who do not take the bus will be asked to report prior to the arrival of our buses – and will be dismissed slightly ahead of the bus students, as a way to minimize the number of people gathering at any time. We will provide you with specific times as soon as we are able.
*We ask for your support in following your drop off/pick up schedules. We want to avoid early morning/after school congregating in the playgrounds.
**Also, for those families that have chosen to keep following the Home Learning Opportunities, we ask that you avoid MVB property during the typical school day hours as it will become problematic for supervision.
We will no longer be able to provide plates of toast/fruit outside the office. Instead, we will deliver food to classrooms, as needed. For lunch, we will provide “brown bag” lunches for those in need. It would be helpful if families can let us know if a child will be needing a lunch – though we will always make more to cover our bases if someone shows up empty handed.
We will have staggered recess and lunch times in order to have fewer students in shared spaces. Students will stay with their class groupings and be assigned a location (rink, playground, field, swings, etc) which will rotate each day.
Students are not to share food or personal supplies of any kind.
In addition to the expectations we already have at school, students will also be expected to adhere to the new safety guidelines around distancing and physical touching. Students that cannot follow the rules we have put in place to ensure everyone’s safety will lose their opportunity to attend MVB’s in-class instruction.
As a precaution, all of our water fountains will be shut off, so we are asking students to bring a personal water bottle to school. We have a filling station near the gym entrance, as well as taps in each classroom to fill them.
At M.V. Beattie, we have been very fortunate to have so many parent and community volunteers. However, at this time we will not be able to have more visitors in our building. We still want to hear from you, so please send us an email or make a phone call. We are also happy to find a time to meet in person, if that is preferable.
In this unusual year, SD83 would like to share what information we currently have, and hopefully answer some questions our parents may have about the new school year.
When will my child begin school?
The Ministry of Education has announced there will be a staggered start to the new school year to give everyone time to become familiar with the new safety protocols.
School District No. 83 staff will report to their schools on Tuesday, September 8 for safety orientations and planning sessions.
Students will report to schools on Thursday, September 10 for their welcoming and safety orientation sessions. Regular learning will commence as soon as appropriate routines are established. School staff will communicate any changes to student schedules. Graduated entry for Kindergarten will still occur in its usual manner.
What is a Learning Group or Cohort?
Through the direction of our Public Health Officer (PHO), the BC Ministry of Education has established learning group limits for regular student interactions that occur inside our buildings. Schools are expected to adhere to this expectation for all learning activities, or establish additional safety protocols, including social distancing. Staff that work with more than one cohort of students will also have to adhere to these safety protocols. Click here for information on Learning Groups/Cohorts
Will the school buses be running?
School District No. 83 will continue to offer bus services. In late August all bus students will receive a postcard in the mall with a stop location and pick up and drop off times. If you are new to the district and qualify for busing please contact our transportation office at 250-832-9415 to register your child for busing. Please contact the transportation department if you don’t receive yours or if your mailing address has changed.
Please note that additional safety protocols are being finalized for all bus routes. These will likely include seating plans, use of masks for riders in grades four through twelve, as well as PPE for the drivers. Submission of regular health checks may also be required.
Will the school district be staggering school day start and end times?
Changes to school start and end of day times are not being contemplated at this time, as many of our students ride to school on our interlocking bus schedule. However, break and lunch times may be staggered in some schools to reduce hallway, playground, and common area interactions.
What is happening at the high schools?
High schools are currently investigating timetable options to limit the number of contacts. At this time, some secondary schools in School District No. 83 are considering the use of the quarter system, where students would take two courses a day for ten weeks. To meet the cohort requirements determined by the PHO, but still allow students to stay enrolled in their currently selected course options, some of our larger schools may have to divide the student population into groups, having students attend in-person on certain days and work from home the other days. Secondary leadership teams are currently working on this issue and will notify families as plans are nearer to completion.
Will there be “health checks” like there were in June
Parents of bus students may be required to submit health checks, but otherwise, health check forms will not be required. However, it is extremely important that parents pay close attention to the health of their children and keep them at home if they are sick or symptomatic. More information is available here.
Our family has an immune compromised member and we don’t think our children should attend school. What are our options?
School District No. 83 is focusing on making our schools as safe as possible for all students. However, if are uncomfortable having your child return to regular learning, you may wish to consider some other options.
School District No. 83 currently has an online option for students in Grades 9-12 known as the Education Outreach Program (EOP). Students in EOP are supplied assignments and resources (such as textbooks and learning activities) as well as some access to a local teacher, but the program is primarily self-directed. The Education Outreach Program currently offers a wide range of online courses to students on a full-time or cross-enrolled basis in Grades 9-12.
School District No. 83 previously offered an Education Outreach Program option to elementary and middle schools student, but it was closed due to lack of demand. We will reopen this program option for the duration of the pandemic if there is sufficient interest. For more information regarding the EOP program, or to express your interest in registering, please contact Education Outreach Principal Rob Macaulay at email@example.com
What about music/band/choir/musical theatre?
At this time, all programs will be carrying on as previously planned. However, there music-specific safety protocols and scheduling to allow for sufficient physical distancing for classes outside the set cohort numbers that still need to be worked out. Expect further communication from your school prior to start-up.
Students with special needs?
Students with special needs will be given full access to learning and supports, as they would in a non-pandemic context. For more information about your child’s program or to request an individual meeting or orientation, please contact your school.
What about extra-curricular activities (clubs/sports)
Schools may continue clubs if cohorts or physical distancing can remain intact. The Fall interschool sports schedule has been cancelled. The remaining seasons of play will be re-evaluated throughout the year. https://www.bcschoolsports.ca/news/planning-return-play-fall-2020
Community use of school facilities?
After hours community use of facilities will be allowed in the fall providing they are in full alignment with health and safety measures.
Further information will be provided via the School District No. 83 website over the coming weeks, including the full District Safety Plan. You can also expect a survey confirming your student’s intentions to attend school and/or utilize bus transportation for September.
Additional links from the Ministry of Education and Public Health