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School Staff

Learn about keeping schools low-risk.
Last updated: August 25, 2022

Students, staff, and others can take preventive actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in K-12 school settings. Staff can attend school safely when we work together to follow public health recommendations.
 
  • Everyone eligible gets all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Schools implement and update communicable disease plans.
  • Students, staff and parents/caregivers follow school communicable disease plans. 
  • Regions provide additional guidance when there is greater risk in a community.
Together, these steps can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in schools. We all have a role to play in keeping our schools safer. 

The current public health guidance for schools for the 2021/22 school year: 

Preventing COVID-19 in Schools
Attending school in person is important for a student’s education and well-being. Every school in B.C. has a communicable disease plan that details what they must do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Plans include multiple layers of protection.

What schools are doing

  • Ensuring ventilation systems are working effectively
  • Providing frequent opportunities for hand cleaning
  • Supporting use of masks based on personal choice

Plans also support staff, students and their families to practice personal prevention measures that help keep schools low-risk like daily health checks, staying home when sick, and respecting each other's personal space.

Public health measures, such as vaccination, also help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Every school in B.C. must have a communicable disease plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Plans include multiple layers of protection, such as: 
  • Ensuring ventilation systems are working effectively
  • Providing frequent opportunities for hand cleaning
  • Supporting the use of masks based on personal choice
 
The public health guidance outlines the prevention measures that should always be in place across all B.C. public and independent schools this school year. However, there might be times when additional measures are needed in certain communities because there is increased local risk.

Regional medical health officers will issue recommendations for individual schools, a grouping of schools, a school district or for all schools within a health authority during times of elevated risk. This will more likely be during times of increased community spread of COVID-19 and within communities with low vaccination uptake.

 
Omicron is the most commonly detected variant of concern in B.C. It spreads more easily than other variants and we don’t yet know whether it causes less severe disease. So far it doesn’t appear to result in more severe illness in children. COVID-19 is a more mild illness for most children compared to adults. 

Two doses of COVID-19 vaccines appear to be less effective at preventing infection with the omicron variant, but it continues to provide good protection against severe disease if you do get sick. A booster dose appears to increase protection against infection with the omicron variant.

Vaccine coverage differs across the province. We continue to see higher risk in some communities, especially those with lower vaccination uptake. In these communities, local Medical Health Officers may recommend additional prevention measures for the whole community, as well as for schools.

The best way to prevent the omicron variant from impacting schools is for everyone eligible to get the recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

 

All sports, clubs and extracurricular activities are allowed. Learn more about current health and safety measures in schools.


School staff may need to provide information about their vaccination status to their school district if the local Medical Health Officer (MHO) issues a directive following the introduction of an Order from the PHO.‎

You can continue to attend school if someone in your household is sick, as long as you don’t have any symptoms of illness yourself. Everyone in the household should monitor for symptoms and stay home if they develop symptoms.
 
If you are a contact of someone else who tests positive or feels unwell, you do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms. If you feel unwell, stay home until you feel well enough to return to regular activities.
 

School-Based Staff Safety
School staff play an important role in keeping schools low risk by following the safety measures below.

Get vaccinated

Children and people aged 6 months and older living in B.C. are eligible to get immunized against COVID-19.

Regular health checks

Health checks mean checking yourself for symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, before you go to school. Staff can use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool app or When to get tested page to determine if you need testing.

Stay home when sick

  • If you are sick or have symptoms of illness, you should stay home even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • Use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool, or follow BCCDC testing guidance to know what to do if you are sick.
  • If you get tested and have COVID-19, visit the BCCDC website for information on how to self-isolate, manage symptoms and let others know: What to do if you have COVID-19.
  • If you do not need a test, stay home until you feel well enough to return to regular activities.   
  • You can also call 8-1-1 or visit HealthLink BC for advice.  

Respect personal space

Personal space is the distance from others which a person feels comfortable with. Students and staff should respect each others’ personal space at school. 

Clean Hands

Clean your hands often. This means washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. 

Wear masks when recommended

Masks may provide some protection to you, and to those around you. The decision to wear a mask should be based on personal choice.

See the Masks page for more information on how to use a mask properly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Students and staff are encouraged to regularly do a health check for symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, before coming to school.

Staying home when you are sick is one of the most effective ways to keep schools low-risk for COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. If you are sick or have symptoms of illness and are unable to fully participate in regular activities, you should stay home even if you are fully vaccinated.

 

School staff may need to provide information about their vaccination status to their school district if the local Medical Health Officer (MHO) issued a directive following the introduction of an Order from the PHO.‎

 
The decision to wear a mask should be based on personal choice.
 
If a regional or provincial recommendation or Order that impacts your school is put in place, the school or school district will be notified by public health. This notification will include information about which measures should be implemented in your school.


 

COVID-19 Cases in Schools

When COVID-19 spreads in a community, there is a risk that it will be in schools in that community. Sometimes people have COVID-19 and don’t know it. Nobody means to bring COVID-19 into a school.

Students and staff with mild symptoms may not need a test. If symptoms are mild, they can stay home until they feel well enough to return to regular activities.  

Students and staff who have tested positive should self-isolate and follow the instructions on what to do if you test positive.

Students and staff are not required to notify their school about a positive COVID-19 test. However, they are encouraged to notify their school if an absence is due to illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

If a regional or provincial recommendation or Order that impacts your school is put in place, the school or school district will be notified by public health. This notification will include information about which measures should be implemented in your school.



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