Following Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order for an extra week of holiday break, Delta students will soon be headed back to in-person learning on Monday with additional public health measures in place.
School staff and administrators were required to return to school this week, however, to “adapt to the impacts of the Omicron variant on communities and schools, and to implement enhanced safety plans to support the continuation of in-class learning,” reads the Dec. 29 news release from the Ministries of Health and Education.
An additional layer of measures, starting Jan. 10, will be added to the existing safety measures of mask-wearing, maximizing space between people and doing daily health checks.
These increased measures include preventing crowding during class transition times, holding school gatherings virtually or at half-capacity, limiting school visitors and pausing extracurricular sports tournaments.
Staff-only gatherings will also be required to run virtually whenever possible, as well.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 4, Henry said that keeping schools open remains their highest priority and confirmed students would be returning to school on Monday.
“I have tasked schools specifically to take stock and prepare plans to safely operate over the coming months with the potential for reduced staff and keeping children safe in school,” she said.
Delta School District Superintendent Doug Sheppard sent a letter to parents on Jan. 4 with health and safety directions and details on mask-wearing, the importance of vaccinating children aged five to 11 against COVID-19 and doing daily health-checks with your child.
“We look forward to welcoming your children back to school on Monday, Jan. 10. Thank you for your continued efforts in keeping each other physically safe, and for your ongoing support and understanding as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” he wrote.
Sheppard added the district anticipates receiving further guidance from the Ministry of Education later this week, and that they will share any further information with parents as soon as they can.
The delayed-return to school was first announced during a press briefing on Dec. 29 with Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and Henry.
“The guidelines build on existing protocols that have succeeded in minimizing the spread of the virus in schools, such as: encouraging everyone who is eligible to get fully vaccinated, using available space to spread out and respect personal space, wearing masks ... cleaning hands regularly, cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces at least once a day,” reads the Ministries’ Dec. 29 news release.