Health & School Updates for Coronavirus
*Please bookmark this page for future reference for general news & health resource information about COVID-19.
Ongoing School Guidelines & WWS Updates
We want to ensure you have up to date information about the measures for preventing and controlling respiratory viruses as well as what is being implemented in our school and steps you can take at home. – Rubeena Sandhu, Head of School
As a school in B.C, we adhere to the recommendations and guidelines from the Provincial Health Office which provides regular updates and has forwarded updated guidelines for schools and childcare programs (Feb, 23, 2020) to help reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The guidelines include recommendations for schools regarding preventative practices and policies, communication to parents, supporting students and families who are self-isolating/monitoring, and steps to take if students or staff begin to experience symptoms while at school or home. Also the recommendations provide information on actions we can all take to support students’ social-emotional well-being, links to additional resources and a list of disinfecting products to use at school and home.
As always, we will continue to provide updates and share information regarding additional actions and announcements.
Please know that WWS is in constant communication with the Ministry of Education and we are all working together to try to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Most recent links to COVID-19 updates for Schools
Updated March 27/2020
- Joint letter for Parents from Ministry & Education/BCCPAC – Mar.27
- Minister of Education letter about indefinite school suspension – Mar.17
- B.C. School Update for Spring Break Travel Recommendations – Mar. 13
- Provincial Recommendations for School Administrators (updated) – Mar. 5
- FISA BC Update & Links to Independant schools – Mar. 3
- Coronovirus FAQs for Children & Students from B.C Health – Feb. 28
- B.C. Public Health Guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs (revised) – Feb. 23
*Given the complex and rapidly evolving situation, we encourage you to visit Vancouver Coastal Health for the most detailed and up to date information on COVID-19 in B.C.
Frequently Asked Questions for WWS re: COVID-19
Updated March 28/2020
What details are available about B.C.’s school suspension starting March 17, 2020?
Decisions about school suspensions/closures are made by public health officials in cooperation with respective independent school associations and the Ministry of Education. The direction for an indefinite school suspension starting March 17, 2020 due to COVID-19 is from B.C.’s Minister of Education, Rob Fleming. Also, here is a copy of B.C.’s Ministry of Education Pandemic Response Framework and Planning Guidelines for parent’s reference, but individual school details on what will happen next regarding how education services will be provided during the school suspension period will be coming in the next few weeks.
What about daycare/playschool services for the EYC & Little Cedars during the school suspension?
Little Cedars at Spruce Grove will remain closed, but as of March 27, 2020, the Early Years Centre in Spring Creek will re-open from Monday-Thurs. 7:45-5:00pm, starting March 28. This is to provide essential service worker and Sea to Sky community support for child care during the COVID-10 crisis.
Waldorf’s Early Years essential worker families that require this care can email Admissions to secure hours/days now, but spaces are also available to essential community workers (even if they are not current enrolled in Waldorf). Children must be between 30 months – school age.
Learn more about the EYC’s Essential worker child care details and registration info..
How will my child’s education continue now with the school suspension?
Highlights of WWS suspension of in-classroom learning:
For the remainder of spring break, the faculty and staff will be working with on remote learning plans so that we can provide continuity of learning for all WWS students once spring break is over. Transitioning to remote learning will be an adjustment for all. Aside from wanting to keep our students healthy, our goal is to ensure that students are engaged and learning, while we remain attentive to their developmental needs during this unprecedented time. These lessons will be developmentally appropriate, for example, for younger students parent participation and dissemination may be required while for some of the high school classes, teachers may work directly with students.
Please allow the faculty and administration time to prepare a plan of implementation over the next week. Be assured that Whistler Waldorf School will provide continuity of learning for all our students, in an organized, meaningful way.
Please see WWS’ E-Learning – Ongoing Updates for the short-term distance & e-learning plans available for WWS students and parents during the COVID-19 crisis.
Who should I contact at the school if our family is in isolation from recently travelling outside of Canada?
In addition to B.C. Health, Health Canada is advising against all non-essential travel outside of Canada (including the United States). If you do travel outside of Canada, you are asked to self-isolate (stay away from school or work) for 14 days upon your return to B.C.
As per the Spring Break advisory message from March 13, 2020, we are requesting that WWS families who are currently travelling or intend to travel outside of Canada in the coming weeks, please advise us immediately so that we can help you prepare your children for continuing their education away from school.
What can families, students, and school personnel do to keep from getting sick and spreading COVID-19?
Vancouver Coastal Health recommends the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water when your hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick (and do not return to school until you are fever-free for 24 hours without medication). We ask you to strictly adhere to this policy.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
When should I keep my child home from school?
Do not send your child to school if you suspect he or she may be ill, and has exhibited any of the following signs or symptoms:
- An elevated temperature of 100 degrees or more during the last 24 hours.
- Vomiting within the last 24 hours.
- Repeated episodes of diarrhea within the last 24 hours.
- Chills, loss of appetite, unusual fatigue, and/or lingering headache.
- A significant amount of nasal discharge, particularly if the discharge is yellow or greenish in color.
- A persistent cough.
- A significant sore throat.
- An earache.
Parents also have the responsibility to alert the school as to the reason why they are keeping the student home. In Early Years, students are required to stay home for a minimum of 24-48hrs (depending on the illness) and to also have a medical note (depending on the illness for their return).
What happens if my child feels sick while at school?
While we usually monitor ill students for a period of time, given the circumstances parents will be immediately called to pick up their child as quickly as possible.
What additional steps is the school taking for extra cleaning at this time?
The school will take extra care with cleaning and disinfection processes, with particular attention to common surfaces during this heightened situation. Additional cleaning of common surfaces by faculty/staff is happening at regular intervals throughout the school day and the evening cleaning crew is using a more significant disinfectant protocol as recommended by the health authorities.
As well, all faculty, staff and students are required to maintain appropriate hand washing and sanitizing protocols upon entering the building and throughout the day.
What if my child has anxiety about the situation?
A new virus such as the COVID-19 can create anxiety and be difficult for students/children to understand, especially if someone in their school or family is sick or they see or hear troubling messages on the radio, internet or television. It is normal for children to feel worried and nervous and have questions.
Support your children by reassuring them about their personal safety and health. Telling them that it is okay to be concerned is comforting. Reassure them they are safe and that there are many things they can do to stay healthy as per above prevention items. Please see the below news article links for more resources on talking about Coronavirus with your child.
What about school events, gatherings and field trips?
WWS will make decisions about holding or canceling future school events and field trips with an abundance of caution and based on updated information from the Provincial Health Authority.
If any future WWS events or planned field trips are affected by a recommendation from the Provincial Health Authority, WWS will send a direct email to families with updated information in advance.
COVID-19 Resources for Parents/Students
Articles on How to Talk to Kids about the current situation:
- How to talk to children about difficult news (American Psychological Association)
- Explaining the News to Our Kids (CommonSenseMedia.org)
- How to Talk to Kids About the Coronavirus Outbreak (Time.com)
- How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus (New York Parenting)
- Facts versus Fiction for Kids on Coronavirus Issues (CBC)
- Students and staff who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) must stay home from school. If your child is not feeling well, we ask that you keep them home so that they can rest and recover. As always, remember to inform the school of the absence.
- Prevent and control respiratory viruses with a consistent practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and water, which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses.
WWS Policy Reference for Communicable Diseases
If your child has a serious communicable disease, you must notify the school so we can comply with reporting requirements.
Communicable Diseases Reporting:
➢ The Director of Education who will report to Whistler Health Care Centre @ 604-932-4911, 4380 Lorimer Road, all students with a suspected communicable disease (i.e. whooping cough, measles, etc.).
➢ Communicate any unusual clusters of illness such as a diarrhea outbreak, rash-like illnesses, or suspected communicable disease (i.e. whooping cough, measles, etc.) to the Director of Education
➢ The Director of Education will contact Vancouver Coast Health Authorities any outbreak that is affecting a large number (10%) of your school population (e.g. influenza, chicken pox, etc.).
➢ The Director of Education in coordination with the Whistler Health Unit is responsible for all communications and for providing information to parents and staff during a communicable disease outbreak, and will inform school families of the situation and control measures.
➢ The school will follow Vancouver Coastal Health’s advice on control measures and further investigate the situation as required.
➢ Proper exclusion is one of the most important measures in controlling an outbreak. If a student is suffering from a communicable disease that would endanger the health or welfare of the other students, the Director of Education must report the matter to the school medical officer and may exclude the student from school until a certificate is obtained for the student from the school medical officer or from a private medical practitioner, permitting the student to return to school per the BC School Act.
Removal of a Student from School for Health Reasons:
The BC School Act makes the following provision for the removal of a student from school, and the same provision may apply to an independent school:
➢ If a teacher, principal, vice-principal, or director of instruction suspects a student is suffering from a communicable disease or other physical, mental, or emotional condition that would endanger the health or welfare of the other students, the teacher, principal, vice-principal or director of instruction must report the matter to the school medical officer, to the school principal, and to the superintendent/headmaster, and may exclude the student from school until a certificate is obtained for the student from the school medical officer or from a private medical practitioner, permitting the student to return to school.
➢ The school must continue to make available an educational program for any student removed or excluded from school for health or safety reasons.