August 19, 2020
Dear First Nations and First Nation Schools,
The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) are committed to supporting First Nations and First Nation schools with their preparations for the upcoming school year. Following our July 31st communication, we are providing further information related to the Ministry of Education’s September restart plan for public schools, as well as additional information on funding for First Nation schools related to September start-up. We are also providing updated WorkSafeBC Protocols as well as new information related to the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies.
Update to September Restart for Public and non-First Nation Independent Schools
On August 12, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced that there will be a gradual restart to the school year in public schools, allowing extra time to orient students and staff to the new COVID-19 health and safety measures.
- The Ministry announced a gradual restart period for the week of Sept. 8-11, 2020 to allow extra time for schools to orient students and staff on the new health and safety measures.
- Starting September 8th, all staff will meet with their school’s joint health and safety committee to receive instructions about how the updated guidelines, co-developed with the BC Centre for Disease Control and provincial health officer, will work in their school. This is intended to allow time for educators and staff to adjust to their new routines, finalize plans for learning groups, review health and safety protocols, and confirm lesson plans that align with the new school processes.
- Students will return to public schools for orientation by September 10th and will be assigned to their class, find out who is in their learning group, practise their new routines, and familiarize themselves with how to safely move from the class to outdoor and common areas of the school.
As communicated in FNESC and the FNSA’s July 31st notice, recognizing the authority of First Nations for their learners and the responsibility of First Nations for making decisions about the health and safety of their citizens, First Nation independent schools are exempt from the Ministry requirements to fully open and submit a restart plan.
Funding and Resources for First Nation Schools
Respecting the authority of individual First Nations to make decisions about their students and school operations, FNESC and FNSA recognize that there may be a diversity of education delivery methods in place for September. Delayed school start dates may be part of the plan for some First Nation schools.
Indigenous Services Canada will continue to flow all K-12 education funding as normal while individual First Nations determine their reopening plans based on local circumstances and priorities. A delayed start date will not impact funding for the 2020-2021 school year.
As previously communicated, FNESC and FNSA are working to tailor the planning materials for public and independent schools released by the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education. We are adapting a planning document for school reopening and are expecting to distribute this resource to First Nations and First Nation schools at the end of this week. The resource will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleaning Supplies
FNESC and FNSA are pleased to announce that eligible organizations, including First Nation schools, are now able to purchase PPE and cleaning supplies through the provincial government. Products now or soon available include masks, gloves, gowns, goggles, industrial cleaner, bleach, and hand sanitizer. Available supplies are listed at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/supplyhub.
These supplies are intended to supplement, not replace, our existing supply sources. The Province continues to encourage the use of every effort to employ risk mitigation strategies to reduce the need for these supplies, following guidance on the appropriate use of PPE from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
If you have any additional questions about ordering PPE or cleaning supplies, please email COVID19request@gov.bc.ca.
New WorkSafeBC Protocols
Further to our July 31st communication, the WorkSafeBC Education (K-12): Protocols for Returning to Operation have been updated. Please refer to the WorkSafeBC website for the latest details https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-returning-safe-operation/education.
Please feel free to contact FNESC and FNSA with your questions. Find the latest updates on our COVID-19 information page.