Coronavirus (COVID 19) and Protocols

Update #1

Wednesday, 04
March 2020 

With the unfolding situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19), we understand that there are questions and some anxiety about the impact the spread of the virus may have on our school community. 

In this update I want to lay out details of how we are working to mitigate the possible impact of a COVID-19 outbreak on Vancouver Island: what we have been doing to date; what we will be doing between now and Spring Break; and the protocols for students and families relating to the return to school after Spring Break. 

Before I go into more detail, I would like to reassure you all that the risk of the spread of COVID- 19 within British Columbia remains low. Please see the joint statement by the Minister of Health and BC’s Provincial Health Officer for the latest information: 

and the BCCDC site for further details: 

Travel during Spring Break 

As we move closer to Spring Break, and with the rapidly changing situation worldwide, we ask that students and families seriously consider the implications of choosing to travel to affected regions over Spring Break. 

It is impossible to know what the situation will be over the coming weeks. The list of affected regions may change unexpectedly. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that students and/or families will be able to reenter Canada after travelling, or whether new protocols will require you to isolate yourself for 14 days or more on your return. 

We take our responsibility for the health and wellbeing of all our students and staff very seriously. Consequently, we may deny a student’s return to school if we deem there to be a risk of further infection, in line with the Minister of Health’s statement: 

When a traveler
shows signs of a potential infectious disease upon arrival in Canada, border services officers contact quarantine officers, who are always available to provide health screening. 

We are asking all other travelers who are returning to or visiting B.C. from outside Canada to monitor themselves and their children closely for symptoms and if any arise, to limit their contact with others and call 811. This is an important way to reduce the possibility of transmission of illness to others. 

The following return to school protocols have been put in place for our boarding students to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our school community: 

  • All students will provide us with detailed travel information for their Spring Break plans 
  • All return to school dates and contact details will be collected before Spring Break 
  • Using the student’s return date, each student will be contacted by Cathy Mingo (VP Student Life) or Sandra McManus (School Nurse) five days prior to their return date to collect the following information – current health, any travel during their break, exposure to anyone sick 
  • A risk assessment will be done on each student by the school in close consultation with the Medical Health Officer on any individuals of concern. Any students advised not to return to school will be contacted with instructions 
  • On arrival back to school, each boarding student will have their temperature taken and recorded 
  • Students will be monitored closely for symptoms of fever, sore throat, and/or cough for two weeks 
  • Any students who we have concerns about will be reported to the Provincial Medical Health Officer whose directions will be followed 

For the safety of our community, we ask our day students and staff also to follow the guidelines of the Minister of Health and BC’s Provincial Health Officer regarding travel and self-isolation. 

Current preventative measures at Brookes Westshore 

To prevent and control respiratory viruses we have asked that staff, students and families are consistent in their practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. 

Good respiratory etiquette includes covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues in a plastic-lined waste container, followed by hand hygiene. 

Hand hygiene is the washing of hands with plain soap and hot water for 20 seconds which is effective at removing visible soil as well as viruses. 

In order to embed these practices in our community, we have put the following in place: 

  • Staff will be giving students demonstrations of appropriate hand washing practice and we will reinforce this with further demonstrations on return from Spring Break 
  • Staff model effective hand washing and respiratory etiquette throughout the day 
  • We have plentiful supplies of hand sanitizer, have installed soap dispensers, and installed three extra sinks in the dining hall and are implementing supervised hand washing at mealtimes 
  • We have purchased more powerful disinfectant products for our cleaning crews for the scheduled Spring Break ‘deep clean’ 
  • Disinfecting wipes and antibacterial disinfectants are available on each dorm floor 
  • We will be conducting a comprehensive information session for all students at the community block on the last Thursday of the term – March 12th - that will cover all these points and more 

School trip and events 

As part of our planning process for all school trips, we will include the latest information on the spread of COVID-19 and the associated risks. 

With this process in place, and the recommendation from the BC Ministry of Education, the proposed trip to Russia has been cancelled. This decision was not made lightly. We prioritize the health and wellness of our students above all and, as a result, we did not feel that we could proceed with this trip. 

Graduation, IB Exams and Closing Ceremonies 

We are aware that several key events are scheduled for next term and will be working hard to minimize any disruption that may occur due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

We are fully engaged with planning for our Graduation ceremony on May 22nd. At the same time, we are mindful of the possible challenges that we may face if the COVID-19 situation escalates. As part of our planning process, we are investigating how we will include parents and family in this important rite of passage while minimizing the need for travel (for example, by live-streaming the event). 

Staff and student illness 

Students and staff who are ill with respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches) are asked to stay home from school. For day parents, if your child is not feeling well, we ask that you keep them home so that they can rest and recover. As always, remember to inform the school of the absence. 

We are grateful for your support and understanding at this challenging time. We know we are all committed to the health and wellness of those in our care. If you have any further questions or require clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Your sincerely, 

Jerry Salvador
Head of School