Our Response to COVID-19
St. Michaels University School is open and students are attending in-person classes, 100% of the time on our campuses. Boarding students continue to live on campus.
2023 Current Guidance For Respiratory Illness
Our approach to addressing respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, RVS, and Influenza aligns with the guidelines of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). For further information please refer to the BCCDC.
In accordance with the BCCDC, if you exhibit symptoms you can manage your illness much like you would with other respiratory infections. It's essential to stay at home if you're feeling unwell and take preventive measures to minimize the spread of the infection.
If you experience respiratory illness symptoms:
- Remain at home and avoid contact with others until your fever subsides (without relying on fever-reducing medications like Tylenol) and you feel well enough to engage in regular daily activities.
- Steer clear of close contact with others, particularly individuals at a higher risk of severe illness or complications.
- If you cannot avoid close contact with others, implement additional preventive measures, such as wearing a mask in indoor spaces and practicing regular hand hygiene.
Managing Your Symptoms
Most individuals can effectively manage their symptoms at home. This includes staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, and using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to alleviate cough or sore throat discomfort. If you have any questions please reach out to a health care professional.
Update: August 30, 2022
As SMUS returns to school, the BC Provincial Health Office (PHO) has updated their protocols for communicable diseases, including COVID-19 in K-12 settings. In keeping with that guidance, the school will continue to support a variety of prevention measures. This includes supporting and respecting mask wearing as a personal choice, encouragement of vaccination, personal health awareness (staying home when sick) and regular hand cleaning. As stated by the PHO, families and staff should follow public health guidance, including checking regularly for symptoms of illness. Health information is also available from Healthlink BC or by calling 8-1-1.
In addition to community members doing their part in safeguarding personal health, the school will also continue to focus on providing a healthy school environment. This includes operating the school's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at or above Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards, as well as regular cleaning of buildings, with a priority on frequently touched surfaces.
For further information about school opening, please see the following links:
Update: March 27, 2022
Although the province has allowed a return to schools without masks after Spring Break, the Canadian Federal Government has published a mask order for international travellers, stating that anyone travelling outside of Canada must follow current federal travel guidance, including wearing a well-constructed and well-fitting mask when in public spaces, both indoors and outdoors for 14 days following entry into Canada. This includes while at school for students, staff and visitors who may have travelled outside of Canada during Spring Break.
We will ask our community to adhere to this guidance upon return to campus.
Update: March 24, 2022
Students, faculty and staff are no longer required to wear masks. Wearing a mask at school remains a personal choice, and we anticipate all members of our community will support and respect one another as we take this crucial step toward normality.
As always, anyone displaying new or changing COVID-19 symptoms that are not related to pre-existing conditions should not come to school. All students have now been provided with COVID-19 rapid antigen at-home test kits. Although testing is not required, anybody who has tested negative for COVID-19 may return to school when they feel well enough to return to regular activities.
Update: March 9, 2022
This week we are sending home COVID-19 rapid antigen at-home test kits, provided through the BC Ministry of Education. Each student will receive a kit with five individual tests. These tests are intended to be used only if the student is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. It is not necessary to test students returning from Spring Break unless they are displaying symptoms. As always, students displaying any new or changing COVID-19 symptoms that are not related to pre-existing conditions should not come to school. Students who have tested negative for COVID-19 may return to school when they feel well enough to return to regular activities.
Instructions for using the test and actions to take if you have a positive test result are included with the kits, and linked below. We will continue to post any additional updates or information on this page as it becomes available. Remember, vaccination is still the best way to keep our communities and our families safe.
You can learn more about vaccinations for youth ages 5-11 and for ages 12 and up on the BC COVID-19 information site.
Update: February 16, 2022
Alongside the announcement from the British Columbia provincial government on February 15, SMUS is pleased to be able to lift some of our current restrictions.
From the morning of Tuesday, February 22, we will once again offer full food service in Graves Hall in the Sun Centre. It will now be available to Middle and Senior School day students for lunch and for all staff. In addition, The Howard Café will also return to full service and there will no longer be specific hot beverage hours.
All visitors are welcome back to our campuses, with mask and health check protocols remaining in place.
While we are going forward with caution, there is now no longer a limit on attendance for school community events such as assemblies. However, for events that include parents, alumni or outside visitors (including sports), the indoor limit is 50 persons or 50% of operating capacity (whichever is greater). On-campus events no longer require proof of vaccination but proof may still be required for off-campus events.
This is undoubtedly good news for the school and for our wider community. However, everyone is encouraged to remain vigilant. Indoor mask wearing continues to be a requirement as does the daily health check. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should not come to campus. For more information, see the Current Guidance and COVID-19 Considerations below.
Current Guidance 2022
With the collective health and safety of our community our continued top priority, we remind everyone that individuals (an adult parent/guardian of younger children) must complete a self-assessment for themselves or their child before coming on to campus.
Please use the K-12 Health Check and BC Self-Assessment Tool for guidance. If an individual displays any new or changing COVID-19 symptoms that are not related to pre-existing conditions then they should not come to school.
On campus, it is expected that all students, staff and visitors wear a mask in indoor settings.
We ask that all families keep an eye on these webpages, messages from School Directors and the SMUS Weekly for any additional updates.
Four areas of consideration have been highlighted below, all of which are critical for community members to be aware of and to follow.
Daily Health Screening
As a condition of coming to SMUS we are expecting individuals to stay home if they are unwell. Each day, individuals (adult parent/guardian of younger children) must complete a self-assessment of their or their child’s wellness prior to attending school. In short, if an individual displays any new or changing symptoms that are not related to pre-existing conditions then they should NOT come to school. We encourage families to use BC’s K-12 Daily Health Check tool.
If you are identified at any point as a close contact, you will need to self-monitor and may be required to self-isolate. Please follow the Instructions for Close Contacts provided by BC Centre for Disease Control.
At present, close contacts without symptoms can be at school and are not required to self-isolate. Further information is provided on the BCCDC website.
Process if we experience a confirmed case of COVID-19
Even though Victoria remains a safe location in comparison to other parts of the world, it is possible that someone in our community will test positive. If this were to occur, then please know that while we are concerned about our community, the process will be completely taken over by Island Health.
The focus of the Island Health team is to isolate individuals who may have been exposed (contact tracing) so that they lessen the potential impact to the larger community. Once this has been completed, they will send notification directly to our parent and staff community.
In this process, SMUS legally cannot communicate directly with parents, students, faculty and staff unless specifically authorized by public health officials. Also, while we recognize the potential use of social media and other communication tools by individuals who may be impacted, SMUS will not be permitted to disclose the name, class, or grade of any student or staff member who may have contracted the virus. Please know that official statements will be communicated as is permitted by health authorities.
For further information about COVID-19 in schools and the process you can expect, please see the Island Health website.
Actions if someone becomes symptomatic at school
As SMUS faculty are not trained healthcare professionals, we are unable to distinguish between COVID-19 symptoms and those that are similar to colds, flu, or some allergies (download a comparison chart). As such, if someone displays any of the identified COVID-19 symptoms, we have been directed by Island Health to:
- Instruct the individual to put on their mask if they are not currently wearing one.
- Isolate the individual
- Inform the appropriate director
- Individuals will be expected to leave campus as soon as possible:
- A school director will contact the parent/guardian or emergency contact of a day student to arrange for immediate pick up.
- A boarder will move through our established Health Centre triage process and will be isolated.
- Faculty and staff members will be directed to promptly leave after informing their supervisor.
- All individuals (and parents/guardians of younger children) are expected to connect with Island Health, HealthLink BC (8-1-1) or a healthcare professional (or use BC’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool, as appropriate).
- Return to school for all individuals will depend upon evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or being cleared by a healthcare professional, or when they are symptom free.
Actions if you (or a member of your immediate family) are contacted by Island Health to be tested for COVID-19 or to self-isolate
- Contact your school director to inform them, knowing that this information will be kept in utmost confidence.
- If a student is unable to attend school, SMUS has planning in place to ensure that learning from home can continue. This will be a short-term measure, with every hope that students will return to school at the first opportunity.
- If family members are unwell, the current direction from public health is that students and staff may come to school if they are symptom-free. In this circumstance, it is the school’s expectation that these individuals will be extra vigilant in their mask-wearing, and physically distancing until family members at home are symptom free.
Thank you to all members of the SMUS community for your commitment to student and staff health and well-being during these challenging times. Should you have clarifying questions about the above points, please contact your school director.
In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, “Be kind. Be calm. Be safe.”