Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
COVID-19 protocols in the school district haven’t changed for this school year.
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools says it has not needed to updated its communicable disease plan, a required plan for all districts, since last year. The public health communicable disease guidance for K-12 Schools was last updated by the BC Centre for Disease Control on Sept. 13.
Under the guidelines, schools can follow normal practices for welcoming visitors and community use of schools, and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces should occur in line with “regular practices.”
While the BCCDC guidance says schools do not need to monitor students or staff for symptoms of illness, administrators are meant to make school populations aware that individuals should stay home when sick, something NLPS says it has been continuing to communicate.
“For the past year, we’ve asked students and staff to stay home until feeling better, to practice diligent hand washing and that mask wearing is a personal choice,” NLPS director of communications, Dale Burgos, said.
The school district’s 2023-24 budget notes additional staffing supports related to the pandemic, including for enhanced cleaning protocols, have been discontinued. The 2022-23 accumulated surplus partly funded two full-time equivalent positions and also included $50,000 for continued enhanced airflow and filtration costs. This year’s budget does include one additional ongoing custodial position to address the additional spaces added throughout the districts such as at Hammond Bay, Dover Bay, NDSS and Woodlands.
In March 2022, the school board approved an administrative procedure requiring proof of vaccination for COVID-19. That procedure ran through June of the same year. NLPS said it no longer has any vaccine requirements for staff. The National Advisory Committee of Immunization (NACI) is recommending that most people receive an updated vaccine this fall.