All school notices and updates regarding the COVID-19 situation will be posted here.
March 26, 2020
Letter to Parents
Dear St. John Brebeuf Parents/Guardians,
First of all, our prayers go out to you and your families and loved ones, in hope that you are all safe and healthy in these trying times. To those who are frontline workers, health workers, essential services, who keep us healthy, keep utilities going, keep necessities like food on the shelves, thank you for all you are doing. We all pray for a speedy resolution to the COVID-19 crisis. Please continue to look after yourselves.
The Ministry of Education and the Superintendent’s Office of CISVA have provided guidance as to what the expectations are regarding the resumption of learning once the spring break ends. SJB and all our Catholic Schools are working now to put in place a plan for an alternate delivery of learning opportunities for students. We will present these guidelines, as well as some of our school’s own local decisions, in a Q&A format below. There will be many more questions that will arise as we go through this process together and we ask for your patience as we work to get this organized and communicated to you.
Also attached with this letter is a very helpful set of frequently asked questions released by the Ministry of Education on 25 March.
These are difficult and uncharted times, but we have great faith in our staff and in our school community. It is in times like these that family comes together for the benefit of all. We have great strength in the SJB Family, and with prayers and sacrifice, and with God’s help, we will make it through this. There is no better time to remember our CISVA Schools Theme for this year, ‘I (We) can do all things through Christ.’ Again, we ask for your patience through this time, and we will continue to keep families informed to the best of our ability.
Please stay safe and stay healthy. And if you are able, stay home.
Mr. Bittante, Principal
Mrs. Bryson, Vice-principal
Mr. Charbonneau, REC Chairperson
Fr. William Ashley, Archbishop’s Representative
Q & A for Parents Regarding Learning for the Immediate Future
1). Will schools re-open on 30 March?
Schools will reopen on Monday 30 March for staff only. The Ministry of Education and CISVA have stated that parents should expect learning to commence within a week or two of that date. Because in-classroom learning has been suspended in the province, how schools are to deliver education will take on some new forms and approaches. Our SJB staff has already been working on getting a comprehensive plan together and our goal is to have these details to families by the latter part of next week.
The Ministry of Education is expected to release a planning framework document for teachers on Friday 27 March, which will provide support and direction for our school’s plan. Our teachers will need some time to digest this framework and put it into practice. In the meantime, our staff have already been working to anticipate the changes needed to ensure the continuity of learning for your child.
2). How will teaching and learning take place when in-class instruction has been suspended?
Learning for your child will be delivered in a variety of ways. We recognize that the methods used will need to be age appropriate and our teachers are working to ensure this for our students.
SJB students and staff are already using Google Classroom extensively to communicate, and we will continue to do so. We have also been researching online livestream options and will likely be using either Zoom or Google Meet if teachers need to connect with students by way of a live video feed (a decision will be made on which live platform by next week). Email is obviously a significant tool for communication, and all students should be using their @students.stjohnbrebeuf.ca email accounts to communicate with staff. If students have issues with this account (some will have forgotten passwords, no doubt!), they can use another email to contact Mrs. Bryson or Mr. Bittante, and we will re-set their accounts. There will be a variety of tools and methods used by teachers, and students should be prepared to go online to access learning, and also do submit assignments online. Assignments could include Word/Google Docs documents, Powerpoint/Google Slides, video clips, etc., which are platforms they have been using in the past.
It will take time to work this out and we ask for your patience and understanding as we work through the logistics of how this will occur, as brick-and-mortar schools are not typically set up for this type of learning. The goal is not to replace the classroom experience, but to provide the best possible learning under these circumstances. We do not want learning to become a source of stress and conflict in the home and recognize that striking the right balance will take some time. Ultimately, it will be up to parents to determine when and how much work can be accomplished each day. This is an opportunity for all of us to work together to support our students.
3). What materials and equipment will students use?
Please see #2 above.
4). How do we collect our child’s personal items from school?
Prior to Spring Break, we asked students to empty their lockers in preparation for a deep clean by our cleaning staff. Fortunately, almost all our students did so, and presently have their books and materials at home. For the few that were away and unable to empty their lockers, we will make a scheduled opportunity available for students to come to the school and retrieve their needed belongings. If your child needs to come to the school for such items, please email Mr. Bittante or Mrs. Bryson to schedule a time to access the building. Other than this, the school building and office are closed to all, other than staff (who will be coming in to plan and prepare). For the safety of all, please do not visit the school. A reminder that if your child is experiencing any illness or has come in contact with someone who has been exposed to coronavirus, they should not come to the school. Alternate arrangements can be made for students to access their materials.
5). Will students who receive learning support at school continue to receive support at home?
Our Learning Resource Department and Administration are working on how best to support students with special needs. Our Educational Assistants will be fully engaged in working online and contacting students who require support, and in communicating with teachers regarding their learning options. SJB is committed to providing the best possible learning opportunities for our students with special needs.
6). When can I expect to be contacted by my child’s teacher?
Some teachers have already reached out to students to assure them that they are not alone, and that their education will continue. All teachers will be reaching out to students by early next week.
7). Will tuition be waived?
The Ministry of Education has been clear that while in classroom learning has been suspended student learning continues. Our goal is to ensure that this takes place in as seamless a way as possible recognizing the challenges this presents for all concerned – parents, students, and staff. We will continue to charge tuition to meet our financial obligations to staff and suppliers.
In these trying times, some families may be struggling financially due to layoffs or job loss. Please note that the SJB Regional Education Committee has voted to delay the April 1 tuition payment until April 8 to allow time for families who have perhaps seen a drop in income due to the coronavirus crisis to access Employment Insurance and other government support programs which have become available, and to sort out their personal finances. If you have been put in this situation due to COVID-19, and you find yourself in need of tuition assistance, please write to Mr. Bittante (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Education Committee Chair, Mr. Paul Charbonneau (email@example.com) and we will work with you on an appropriate plan to defer in whole or in part. Please note also that bus fees will not be charged beginning on April 1 until further notice.
We are here to help. We do not want anyone to withdraw from the school should they be unable to pay tuition.
8). What about special events, such as Sacraments and Graduation?
As a high school, Sacraments such as First Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmation do not take place within our educational program. However, there are other gatherings which are of particular relevance to us. The Provincial Health Officer and the Minister of Health have banned all large gatherings for the foreseeable future. As a result, all gatherings such as Parent/Teacher Conferences are postponed until further notice. However, report cards, which are scheduled to be sent out on April 14, will be sent out. We are currently working on the safest and most efficient method for this to be accomplished. Should this ban on gatherings continue in this direction, sadly this could affect our Graduation Mass, Commencements, and Prom. We are keenly aware of the deep disappointment that would be felt by our graduates and their families should this happen. We pray that this crisis is over by that time, but we do not have the answers yet, not knowing how long this will last. There will likely be significant anxiety felt by our students for this reason, and for many others as the days and weeks pass. To that end, our counsellor, Ms. Baroud, is available and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is available to support any of our students in need.
9) Will report cards be distributed on schedule?
Please see #8 above.
10) Will the Gala Fundraiser still take place this year?
Decisions about the Gala will be made by the Regional Education Committee soon.
11) Will the school office be open during this time?
As mentioned above in #4, the school office is not open to the public for any personal visits. However, as there is much work to be done to keep the school going, our intent is to keep the office open during regular hours, and the office will be reachable by phone and by email. If there is any change to these hours, you will be notified by email. Questions for the office (such as registration questions, etc) can be emailed to the office (email@example.com).
March 25, 2020
Letter from the Ministry of Education
The British Columbia Ministry of Education is working with all 60 school districts, independent school authorities, First Nations schools and education partners to support a coordinated approach in response to COVID-19. The health and safety of school staff, students, parents and communities is the highest priority.
To ensure B.C.’s K-12 education system supports the coordinated approach, the work will be guided by a set of principles to:
1| Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees.
2| Provide the services needed to support children of our essential workers.
3| Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
4| Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.
The Ministry of Education has developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with the latest developments and will
continue to update them.
Read the full letter and complete list of frequently asked questions below.
March 18, 2020
Letter from the Superintendent of CISVA
Dear priests, staff, parents, guardians, and students,
My prayers and those of our office go out to the members of our community directly affected by COVID-19. The challenge of dealing with this disease and its consequences will make the following weeks and months difficult for all of us. It is important to remember however that there will ultimately be an end to this outbreak. As friends, families, schools and Church our task is to work together with Christ to help each other safely to this end.
The letter from Education Minister Rob Fleming which I asked our principals to circulate to you yesterday outlines in a broad way how the Ministry of Education is guiding the schools in British Columbia through this crisis. I ask you please to carefully read this letter as it addresses some of the questions you are likely to have regarding our young people’s education after spring break.
All schools have been directed by the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to immediately suspended in-class learning which means our students will not be in our schools after spring break. In consultation with the Ministry of Education, the CISVA Superintendent’s Office and our schools, plans are currently being developed that will ensure continuity of learning. Perhaps most importantly, Minster Fleming has given us all the challenge that “all students on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall” and “every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate.”
We will be receiving more information over the next days and weeks and our office is coordinating with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Federation of Independent Schools Association and our schools to be ready for student learning after spring break. I know that you have many more questions. We are working hard to work with our many partners to determine the appropriate and accurate answers. Coordinated effort takes time and I thank you for your patience. It is our intention to create a FAQ that will be mailed to you and posted on our website over the next few days that will address many of your concerns.
I am asking our hard-working school administrators to allow teachers to rest during spring break with a minimum of interruption. The first days after break will provide enough time to prepare for the continuity of instruction in each school. These will be busy days and we need all our school personnel to be rested and healthy.
I urge you strongly to continue to follow Ministry of Health guidelines to keep you and your families healthy.3 Please continue to pray for all those affected by COVID-19 and those caring for them in homes and hospitals.
Yours in Christ,
Deacon Henk Luyten, Ed.D.
March 17, 2020
Letter from the Minister of Education
Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff:
The health and safety of our students, staff and their families is our highest priority.
The global pandemic COVID-19 is moving quickly and its impact on British Columbians is growing.
We have followed the direction – daily – of public health officials and scientists in making fact-based decisions when it comes to B.C.’s school system.
Today, under the direction of the Provincial Health Officer we are directing all schools to immediately suspend in-class instruction until further notice.
While classroom lessons are suspended it is expected that schools will implement a variety of measures to ensure continued learning for students.
We are urging teachers, principals, school districts and independent school authorities to begin planning now to ensure continuity of learning and I have tasked Ministry of Education staff to work with our education partners to coordinate these initiatives.
We expect school districts and independent schools will develop plans to maintain some level of service for children of people who are performing essential services across our province – like medical health professionals, first responders, pharmacists and critical infrastructure workers.
We also know there are vulnerable students who have unique needs; important services like school meal programs, and child care services operating on school grounds that need to be addressed. We expect schools to consider these issues in their planning while we work together through these extraordinary times.
Every student will receive a final mark, and all students on track to move to the next grade will do so in the fall. For grades 10 and 11 students, graduation assessments will be postponed.
Every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. The only graduation assessment required for current Grade 12 students is the Grade 10 numeracy assessment. The Ministry of Education will ensure Grade 12 students who have not yet completed this assessment and who are otherwise on track to graduate are able to meet this graduation requirement.
The ministry will also work with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with post-secondary institutions on admissions and the smooth transition of graduating students in this extra-ordinary year.
We will continue to work in consultation with our education partners as we plan for ongoing learning, including frequent contact with school districts to ensure we work through this together as plans are developed.
This is a very challenging time in B.C. and around the world. Please take necessary preventative measures to keep you and your families healthy. If you think you have symptoms the Ministry of Health has developed an online self-assessment tool at covid19.thrive.health. If you do have symptoms you can call 8-1-1 to pre-arrange health testing. While symptomatic, self-isolate.
The province has launched a new non-medical information line for British Columbians who have questions about COVID-19: 1-888-COVID19. Phone lines are open 7 days a week from 7:30 AM to 8 PM, and information is available in more than 110 languages.
These measures are temporary. But we must act together and act now to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
March 17, 2020
Dear SJB Parents/Guardians,
Within the last hour many of you have heard that the BC Government has closed schools until further notice in response to COVID-19. A few thoughts about this:
– at this point, we have few answers, beyond what we have seen in the government’s press conference. There are many questions, and it will take time to determine the best course of action. We ask for your patience as we sort out the details. As answers come, we will keep you informed.
– SJB staff have been discussing online platforms for delivering curriculum in preparation for this possibility. This will take some time to sort out, but our goal is to do our best to prepare students for the eventual return to school. We have been in contact with other Catholic School principals about best course of action with online classes, and there are more discussions taking place. Please stay tuned.
– We expect a statement from the Superintendent of Catholic Schools at CISVA. We will pass that on to you as soon as we receive it.
Finally, we pray that you stay safe, please keep your loved ones safe, and please follow the recommended guidelines provided by our health authorities (handwashing, social distancing, etc.). All our prayers go with our SJB families and friends.
Mr. Bittante and Mrs. Bryson