Since school restated, we have been providing updates about once a month about our journey with Covid.
Mostly the news has been very good.
Some of our sister Christian schools have had to move, for periods of time, to online learning as a consequence of in-school transmission. For some of them, seeking a place of unity has been extraordinarily difficult and fractures have been public and divisive. PCS has, to date, avoided the need to move to online instruction and although there has been some friction at times, we have for the most part journeyed with exceptional care and concern for one another.
As a school we decided early in the pandemic that we would seek to fairly and reasonably apply the regulations and requirements of the various provincial health orders and the Ministry of Education. That is, we have intentionally avoided either moving past the guidelines (for instance, we didn’t require K – 3 masking prior to the change in regulations) or pressure to only laxly enforce them (for instance, we have enforced compliance on masking, despite some resistance). This practice has been an intentional way of reducing potential conflict (we are applying the guidelines) and acknowledging that we are not health professionals. We continue to believe that the current provincial system (although admittedly imperfect) that marries the advise of health professionals with conversations with educators (including independent school educators) provides the best science- and practice-based guidance for the school. As a school, we would like to additionally assure you that all of our conversations around guidelines and their application seek to value both the advice we receive and what’s best for all the members of our community. This can be a difficult task and we acknowledge our imperfection and ask for your grace where it seems obvious we are still learning our way.
Regarding Covid Exposures and Public Notice
Over the past couple months, we have had a number of Covid exposures in our school. About a month ago, there were a few cases where transmission occurred both in-family and then to other families by way of ‘play dates’. A couple of weeks ago, there was a youth event where there were a number of confirmed cases of transmission to our students. More recently, there have been a couple of cases where the source of the transmission is unclear.
It is the nature of our school community that our students and families are ‘well connected’. They attend church, youth groups and sports. Unfortunately, with these activities come additional risk of transmission. We understand the desire and need for these kinds of activities. A huge part of well-being is healthy relationships. God created us as social beings. Our point in saying this isn’t to point fingers, it’s to acknowledge our context. It’s a context which makes safe school practices particularly important for us.
The good news is that the safety measures we have put into place seem to be working. To our knowledge, there has yet to be a case of in-school transmission. Island Health (with our assistance) has done a great job of tracking and having students self-isolate, if there has been a concern. In our experience, this approach seems to be working.
Island Health continues to advise that school communication of exposures be limited to those most at risk. Having said that, they do report exposures on their website. Additionally, the school is committed to communicating more broadly, if the risk at school materially changes. Above all, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the school continues to be safe and consequently can continue normal operations.
All of this is a reminder that we need to continue to take seriously things like daily health checks, masking and the other protocols which have been put in place to allow our school to continue to operate in a safe manner.
In Philippians, Paul provides particularly apt advice when he states that we should “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3b)