Dear First Nations Schools,
On February 18th, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) rescinded its December 2021 Addendum to the BCCDC Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 schools. This news follows a recent announcement from the Province about planned changes to public health orders focused on resuming more types of activities and events.
The Addendum was a temporary addition to the BCCDC communicable disease guidelines for K-12 schools. It set out focused actions and additional prevention measures in response to the Omicron variant, such as encouraging virtual events, limiting capacity for indoor gatherings, and limiting visitors to those supporting activities for student learning and well-being.
The BC Ministry of Education also lifted its own Addendum to the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings on February 18th, which applied to public schools and non-First Nations independent schools.
With the lifting of the Addendums, the following documents should be referred to as the authoritative sources of health and safety information for school planning purposes:
- BCCDC Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 schools
- BC Ministry of Education Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings
The Ministry of Education has also provided the following additional guidance to public and non-First Nations independent schools:
- For school gatherings and events that bring together multiple classes or other groupings of students (but members of the school community beyond staff, students and necessary volunteers are not attending), there is not a specific capacity limit.
- For school extracurricular and social gatherings and events that bring together members of the school community beyond staff, students and necessary volunteers (e.g., performance), or that occur between schools (e.g., a tournament), indoor capacity should not exceed 50 people or 50% of operating capacity (whichever is greater).
- For indoor spaces without a defined operating capacity, schools should determine a capacity limit that is at most half the number of individuals that would be within the space for that activity or event if prevention measures weren’t in place.
- Spectators (e.g., parents), may be present for gatherings and events within capacity limits.
- Schools should not implement proof of vaccination requirements for school-led gatherings and events.
- Visitors are no longer limited to those supporting activities of direct benefit to student learning and wellbeing.
FNESC and FNSA fully respect the authority of individual First Nations to make decisions about the operation of First Nations schools in the best interests of their students, schools, and communities. This includes the authority to decide if and how to use these guidelines and guidance documents to inform planning, and if and when to reopen their schools for in-person learning.
FNESC and FNSA will continue to update our resources as public health guidance evolves.