September 3, 2021
Dear First Nations Schools and Communities,
On August 24th the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) shared the following updated guidance documents for K-12 school settings. We recommend that you refer to these documents directly as the authoritative sources of health and safety information when considering or planning for a return to school.
- BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 Schools
- BC Ministry of Education Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings
Please note that Regional Health Authorities may also put in place local Public Health Orders requiring additional health and safety measures that are over and above the guidance included in the documents listed above.
FNESC and FNSA fully respect the authority of individual First Nations to make decisions about school operations in the best interests of their students, schools, and communities. We further recognize that a number of schools may opt to remain fully or partially closed and/or may implement more stringent protocols within their schools. First Nations are under no obligation to reopen their schools.
For First Nations that are planning to reopen their schools, FNESC and FNSA have developed the following resources to support BC First Nations in planning to deliver in-person instruction during the 2021/2022 school year. These resources are intended to reflect the updated guidance documents and the unique context of First Nations schools and communities in British Columbia. They are being shared in draft form as we anticipate updating them on an ongoing basis as public health guidance evolves.
- First Nations Schools Reopening Considerations and Template (Revised January 14, 2022 to reflect updated health guidance) includes important health and safety guidance from the BCCDC and Ministry of Education as well as a school planning template. FNESC and FNSA recommend that BC First Nations develop a school reopening plan if they decide to open their school facilities for the 2021/2022 school year, drawing from and applying provincial guidelines and the considerations within this resource to address the unique circumstances of their local community.
- COVID-19 Protocols for First Nations School Administrators: Management of Illness and Exposures at School (Revised January 14, 2022) was adapted from a document released by the Ministry of Education and tailored to the context of BC First Nations in consultation with the First Nations Health Authority and BCCDC. This resource reflects FNESC and FNSA’s current understanding of the appropriate processes for managing cases of COVID-19 within a school community. Key Regional Health Authority contacts are also included.
- Communicable Disease Orientation Checklist for First Nations Schools (Revised) is intended to support First Nations schools and communities in planning ongoing orientations for staff, students, and families. This document was adapted from a resource developed by the Ministry of Education and supports schools and communities in providing an overview of the key principles and guidelines outlined in their school reopening plan.
We hope that the upcoming school year will be a safe and healthy one for your students and communities.