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Student Return from Winter Break Following Delay

Superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen shared important information about the delayed return from Winter Break to school for students in a message to all families sent on December 31, 2021. You can see it below.

Dear Families,

Earlier this week I shared the press release from the Government of BC with details about additional health and safety measures and the delayed return to school for students until January 10. I am reaching out to you today to follow up on that message and provide some additional information.

While the return to school following Winter Break has been delayed for students, on Tuesday, January 4 principals and school staff will be back at work. Their primary goal will be to review updated health and safety protocols and plan for school start-up on Monday, January 10. While no instruction will take place from January 4-7, schools will be open for a limited number of students. This will include children with diverse abilities and students whose parents or guardians are essential healthcare workers. The Ministry of Education has also asked districts to try to accommodate the children of other essential workers, including teachers and school staff, as capacity and staffing levels allow. If this applies to your family and you do not have alternate supports, please contact your school principal. And while you may be reaching out to them now, please know that your principal will not have a full assessment of staffing levels at your child’s school until Tuesday morning.

For parents and caregivers of children with diverse abilities, please note that Lynch Bus Lines will continue to provide service on Tuesday, January 4. If you do not require service, please contact Lynch Bus Lines as you normally would.

For those families who use childcare on school district property, please connect directly with your provider. StrongStart will not be available the week of January 4 in our schools.

We have seen the impact on society over the holidays of the more transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant with an increase in cases and subsequent impacts on businesses, such as thousands of flights being cancelled due to staffing shortages. We have been asked to evaluate staffing impacts with potential increases in absences in the District due to COVID-19 infections. Schools reflect what is happening in the community and there is a possibility that, at some point, we will experience what is called a functional closure – that is, when there is insufficient staff to provide instruction and appropriate supervision.

Evaluating the impacts on staffing, preparing for the event of a functional closure, and implementing strategies for additional safety measures will take time next week and I thank you in advance for your patience. I acknowledge there will be many more questions in the days to come. You can expect further communication later next week, in advance of the full return to school on Monday, January 10.

Throughout the many challenges we have endured as a society, school has continued to play a critical role for children and families. And while COVID-19 has been anything but predictable, we know that the lessons we have learned and measures we have put in place have held us in good stead. We remain committed to continuing to work through these latest difficulties together.

I recognize that, once again, this may mean inconvenience and sacrifice for your family. Thank you in advance for your understanding and continued support.

I wish you and your loved ones all the very best as we head into the New Year.

With warmest regards,

Gina Niccoli-Moen, Superintendent
Burnaby School District