GISS Back To School Plan

Updated March 2021

March 31, 2021 Enhanced Mask Wearing Order Update:

Effective immediately, until further notice, all K-12 staff and all students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear non-medical masks at all times while in schools and on school buses – both within and outside their learning groups. Exceptions to the non-medical mask requirements are as follows:

• While eating or drinking

• When behind a barrier

• When wearing a mask cannot be tolerated for health or behavioural reasons

• Temporary removal of mask for the purpose of identifying the person wearing it

• Temporary removal of mask to engage in educational activities that are not possible with masks (eg. playing an instrument, hi-intensity physical activities, etc.)

• When unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance of another person

• When providing service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (hearing impairments visual cues, facial expressions, etc. are important)

Based on the current epidemiology of COVID-19 in B.C., the latest research, and guidance from the Provincial Health Office, the Ministry of Education has determined that K-12 students can return to class full-time this September under the guidelines set out in Stage 2 of B.C.'s K-12 Education Restart Plan


The Ministry of Education has directed School Districts and Schools to create Back to School Safety Plans that maintain these foundational principles:

  • Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and staff

  • Provide services needed to support the children of our essential workers (ESWs) 

  • Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance

  • Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all children


Further Details of these directions can be found here:

Our GISS Back to School Plan aligns with School District 64's approved district Back to School Plan which was published August 26, 2020​. Further details of these plans can be found here:


 The GISS Back to School Stage 2 Plan is divided into the following sections: 

Our Plan

Health and Safety Measures

Students with Disabilities/Diverse Abilities

Scheduling (Quarter System)

Learning Groups

Our Plan

All students, parents/guardians, staff, contracted services and community members accessing our site are expected to follow this plan. 

Students, families and staff should understand that while this plan is designed to maximize learning, there are strict guidelines and requirements set out by the Provincial Health Officer, WorkSafe BC, and the BC Centre for Disease Control that must be adhered to, and things will feel very different.  We need to do our best to be flexible, understanding and accepting of this new way of being, so that students can continue learning with their teachers and support staff at school. 


This GISS Return to School Plan strives to ensure that all students feel safe when returning to full time in-class instruction.  If after reading through and considering all the aspects of our plan, you still have health concerns or other obstacles that might impact school attendance, and you wish to stay connected with GISS, please contact Principal Lyall Ruehlen at to discuss possible options for Remote Learning Flexible Return.   

This plan is flexible and will be adapted given novel or changing conditions.  This plan was last updated on March 31, 2021.

Health and Safety Measures

Stay Home When Sick 

Any student, staff member or any other adult should stay home when they are sick or required to self-isolate. 

Students, staff members and any other adults must stay home and self isolate if they are:

Daily Health Screening

Parent and Caregiver Responsibilities

Daily Screenings start at home, ask these questions:

  • Does your child have any new symptoms of illness such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell or taste, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea?

Additional Self Assessment Resources:

K-12 Health Check App

Daily Health Check Example

BC COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool

Symptom Assessment and Illness Policies/Procedures 

  • Students and staff should stay at home when new symptoms of illness develop.  The key symptoms to watch for are fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

  • If staff or students (or their parents) indicate that symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition and are not unusual for that individual, they may return to school.  No assessment or note is required from a health care provider

  • For mild symptoms, without fever, students and staff can monitor at home for 24 hours.  If symptoms improve, they can return to school without further assessment 

  • If symptoms include fever, or if after 24 hours, symptoms remain unchanged or worsen, seek a health assessment.  A health assessment can include calling 811, a primary care provider like a physician or nurse practitioner, or going to a COVID-19 testing centre

  • When a COVID-19 Test is recommended through a health assessment,  

    • If the test is positive, the person should stay home until they are told by public health to end their self-isolation. In most cases this this is 10 days after the onset of symptoms. Public health will contact everyone with a positive test

    • If the test is negative, the person can return to school once symptoms have improved and they feel well enough.  Symptoms of common respiratory illnesses can persist for a week or more   

  • If a COVID-19 test is not recommended by the health assessment, the person can return to school when symptoms have improved and they feel well enough. 

  • Parents, students and staff will assess (self-assess) for new symptoms prior to leaving for a water taxi, school bus or schoolSee Self-Assessment Checklist Example for more details

  • If students develop symptoms at school, they will be moved to our designated isolation, they will be required to wear a mask, and will be supervised by a staff member.  Parents/guardians will be contacted for immediate pick-up from school.  They will be advised to monitor and potentially call 811/public health unit for professional guidance.  Staff providing support will be provided with a mask and gloves to assist students and will stay in contact with students until they are able to be picked up.    

  • If a student or staff member is confirmed to have COVID-19, Public Health will do an investigation to confirm if any staff or students that have been in close contact with that person and will need to self-isolate.  Public Health will inform the school and the Superintendent if there are any close contacts of a confirmed case within a Learning Group or school

  • All visitors and staff will need to confirm they have completed the requirements of a daily health check prior to entering the school

Hand Hygiene

Rigorous hand washing is the most effective way to to reduce the spread illness.  Follow these guidelines to ensure effective hand washing at school. 

  • Practice diligent hand washing by washing hands with plain soap for 20 seconds and water (water temperature does not change the effectiveness of washing hands with plain soap and water)

  • Use all hand washing and sanitizing stations provided: at entrances and exits, in classrooms and in hallways

  • Avoid touching you face (eyes, mouth, nose and ears) with unwashed hands

  • Students may bring and use their own hand sanitizer 


Students should practice Hand Hygiene:

  • When they arrive at school

  • Before and after any breaks (e.g. lunch)

  • Before and after eating and drinking

  • Before and after using a classroom or learning space used by another Learning Group

  • Before and after using a classroom with another and/or multiple Learning Groups

  • Before and after using shared educational equipment (e.g. laptops, PE equipment)

  • After using the toilet

  • After sneezing or coughing into hands

  • Whenever their hands are visibly dirty 

Respiratory Etiquette

Students and staff will:

  • Cough and sneeze into their elbow, sleeve or a tissue

  • Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene

Personal Items

Staff and students can bring personal items to school, but they are encouraged to only bring items that are necessary (backpacks, clothing, school supplies, filled water bottle.)

Staff and students should not share personal items (including electronic devices, school supplies and food and drink.)

At this time, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted via paper-based products. As such, there is no need to limit the distribution or sharing of books or paper-based educational resources.  


To avoid crowding associated with locker use, lockers will not be assigned to all students at this time.  If a student feels they require a locker, they can speak to an Administrative Assistant and a locker may be assigned to them if appropriate. 

Wearing a Mask

Every student and staff member will be given two masks when they return to school in September.

Students and staff are encouraged to bring their own mask to school every day.  If they do not have a mask, one will be provided. 

Under the updated health and safety guidelines, masks are required for all staff and students in secondary school at all times except if/when:

  • While eating or drinking

  • When behind a barrier

  • When wearing a mask cannot be tolerated for health or behavioural reasons

  • Temporary removal of mask for the purpose of identifying the person wearing it

  • Temporary removal of mask to engage in educational activities that are not possible with masks (eg. playing an instrument, hi-intensity physical activities, etc.)

  • When unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance of another person

  • When providing service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (hearing impairments visual cues, facial expressions, etc. are important)​

  • When they are outdoors and practicing physical distancing


Staff and students may choose to wear a mask anytime, including in the above situations.  Also:

  • Everyone must treat each other and those wearing masks with respect

  • Even when wearing a mask, staff and students are expected to physical distance with others outside their learning group 

Families whose children may have specific cases with evidence of intolerance to masks are to discuss these with Principal Lyall Ruehlen at; exceptions will be made for individuals who cannot wear masks for medical reasons.

Physical Distancing 

Physical distancing refers to a wide range of measures aimed at reducing close contact with others.  Physical distancing is used as a prevention measure because COVID-19 tends to spread through prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.  


  • Within Learning Groups, physical distancing should include avoiding physical contact, minimizing close, prolonged, face to face interactions, and spreading out as much as possible within the space available. 

  • Outside of Learning Groups, physical distancing should include avoiding physical contact and close, prolonged face-to face interactions, spreading out as much as possible within the space available, and ensuring there is 2 metres of space available between people from different Learning Groups.    

  • For situations where members of different Learning Groups interact:

    • If people will be in the same space for an extended period of time (>15 minutes), Learning Groups will be separated by a space of 2 metres. 

    • If people are in the same space in transition, there will be enough space for no physical contact but 2 metre physical distancing is not required. 

Strategies for Practicing Physical Distancing:

  • Avoid close greetings (e.g. handshakes, hugs)

  • Minimize close, prolonged, face to face interactions, spread out as much as possible within the space available

  • Classrooms and learning spaces will be designed to maximize space, including different furniture arrangements, and assigned seating in all classes

  • Students will be assigned an entrance/exit and they must use that location at all times when entering and exiting the main building

  • Students will be outside learning more often and will be encouraged to go outside at lunch break

  • Students will have reduced group activities and will avoid all activities that require physical contact

  • Staff and Students will observe all flow and traffic patterns in hallways, use spacing when walking and lining up, and practice patience when turn taking is required  

  • In common areas like hallways, Multi-Purpose Room, Cafeteria, Gym, and outside on and off school grounds, staff and students will be required to physically distance from those outside their Learning Group and encouraged to practice physical distancing within their Learning Groups as well 


Riding a School Bus or Water Taxi

  • School buses and Water Taxis will be cleaned and disinfected in adherence with BCCDC guidelines

  • Buses and Water Taxis will be loaded from back to front and offloaded from front to back

  • Students will have assigned seats, and when space is available students will have their own seat unless sharing with a member of their own household

  • Manifests will be kept for school buses and Water Taxis for contact tracing purposes. 

  • Middle and secondary students will be required to wear masks.  If a student cannot tolerate wearing a mask for medical reasons, please contact Lyall Ruehlen to make special arrangements.  Elementary students are not required to wear masks

  • Masks are to be put on before boarding a school bus or Water Taxi and may be removed after offloading

  • No courtesy riders on buses.  You may not travel on a bus that you are not assigned to at anytime 

  • Students are encouraged to bring their own mask. If a student does not have one the driver will provide them with one 

Cleaning the School

The school will be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the BCCDC’s Cleaning and Disinfectants for Public Settings document.


This includes:  

  • General cleaning and disinfecting of the premises will take place at least once every 24 hours  

  • Cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces will occur at least twice every 24 hours. This included doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, tables, desks, and chairs used by multiple students, keyboards, and PE equipment   

  • Surfaces that are visibly dirty will be cleaned immediately 

  • Garbage containers will be emptied daily

  • High touch items that are not easy to clean have been removed

GISS Site Specific Protocols

Drop Off/Pick Up Process 

  • Staff will be at the bus stop and the water taxi dock to assist students in the re-entry process 

  • Students will be reminded of protocols and physical distancing

  • Students will be supported at the entrances (hand sanitizing table and movement into the building)   

  • Parents who drop off/pick-up students will do so at the parking lot; if parents need to enter the school, they will go through the same entry process as students and staff at main entrance



  • Five Learning Groups will be assigned to five different entrance/exit points to the school: 2 in the multipurpose room, 2 in south wing hall, one in north wing hall. Students will show their coloured Learning Group wristband as they enter/depart

  • Entrances will open 10 minutes before class start in the morning.  Go directly to class, avoid loitering in the common areas and hallways to reduce crowding

  • All entrances (except the Main Entrance) will be locked 5 minutes after the bell. Any students that arrive late are to come through the Main Entrance, sanitize, and sign in with Administration in the Multipurpose Room.           

  • Parents, community members, & guests and district staff will only use the main entrance, will be required to follow all H&S guidelines and will register at the office (name, date, contact information will be collected) 

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be present at each entry way  

  • Staff at entrances will remind students of protocols and guidelines around physical distancing, washing hands, flow of movement (e.g. stay to the right) 

  • Staff will direct students to classrooms and monitor flow of traffic to ensure physical distancing is adhered to during transition times  

  • Other buildings, such as the PE building, cafeteria and music room will have hand sanitizing stations at entrances. Staff will meet students at the door to review the guidelines and protocols to ensure everyone’s safety 

  • Staff will monitor entrance ways throughout the day  



  • Classroom doors and windows will be open as much as possible to reduce surface contacts and ensure air flow 

  • Teachers will review safety protocols in classrooms  

  • Classrooms will be organized so that students have minimal physical contact. Students will be assigned seating. Physical distancing will be required by those from different Learning Groups 

  • Masks will be worn at all times by staff and students (with exceptions noted above.)    

  • Each classroom has access to one of the following: sanitizing station or sink/soap area  

  • Exiting the classroom during instructional time will be carefully monitored by the teacher (eg. 1 student at a time for washroom breaks) 

  • For computer classes/labs, protocols with keyboards will be reviewed (used keyboards remain on desk; unused keyboards remain on top of computer tower)  

  • Students are encouraged to bring their own supplies and materials to use in class; students are to bring all their belongings with them to class as lockers will not be normally assigned



  • Students will adhere to the physical distancing guidelines in washrooms

  • Students will wait outside entrance if physical distancing is not possible with numbers inside  

  • Hand washing with soap and water (20 sec.) before leaving the washroom  



  • Students will stay to the right side of the hallway and adhere to the 2m guideline of physical distancing. Staff and students will be required to wear masks at all times in hallways (with exceptions noted above.)



  • Students will stay to the right side of the stairway and adhere to the 1m-2m guideline of physical distancing

  • The front, central stairway will be for going up only  


Common Areas 

  • All individuals in the building/outdoor spaces will adhere to physical distancing guidelines in all common areas, on and off school property 

  • Lockers will not regularly assigned. A student may request a locker and if appropriate one will be assigned   ​

  • Some common areas will be designated or divided for specific Learning Groups during lunchtime

  • Staff and students are required to wear masks at all times in common areas (with exceptions noted above.)  

Shared Equipment 

  • If shared equipment/items are used, they will be cleaned and disinfected, this includes electronic devices 

  • Always practice hand hygiene before and after handling shared objects


SD64 will be adjusting the heat, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in the district to help reduce the possible transmission of the COVID-19 virus in the schools. The current MERV 8 filters will be replaced with MERV 13 filters to enhance school ventilation.


  • The Cafeteria will be open and will implement the WorkSafe BC Restaurants Protocols as appropriate and as relevant to the school setting

  • Students will be required to practice physical distancing when using the Cafeteria

Additional Information 

  • Water bottle filling stations will be available. Students are asked to bring their own water bottle. Water fountains are closed.

Students with Disabilities/Diverse Abilities

This plan will be implemented in a way that promotes inclusion of students with disabilities/diverse abilities.  Supports and services typically provided to students with disabilities/diverse abilities or medical complexity will continue.  Students who require supports will be identified early, be provided with targeted intervention, receive ongoing supports and be assessed regularly for progress.  

Scheduling (Quarter System)

What is the Quarter System?  

The Quarter system is a way of organizing the year schedule in which students take 2 classes per day for approximately 10 weeks.  The year is divided into four quarters, so students will take 2 courses per Quarter, for a total of 8 courses per school year. 


Why change to the Quarter System?  

Changing to the Quarter system was decided upon because it was identified as the best way to:

  • Meet the requirements of the Provincial Health Officer’s Learning Group model

  • Minimize the disruption to course offerings to meet the Graduation Requirements and,

  • Offer the most student choice

The Quarter system offers a range of benefits: 

  • Maximizes in-class instruction time 

  • Allows for Learning Groups to mainly stay together within a group of classes 

  • Reduces transition times where crowding often occurs 

  • Allows more time for hands-on, project-based and inquiry-based learning 

  • Increases personalized learning, as teachers are working with a smaller number of students at a time 

  • Allows students to focus on less subjects at a time 


The Quarter system has some important differences from the Semester system: 

  • Classes are up to 180 minutes in length, with breaks built in 

  • Courses go by fast; midterm is in just over one month after the course starts 

  • Full attendance is crucial, missing 2 days is like missing a week in the Semester system  


Scheduling in a Quarter System

Non-Instructional Time (Before and After School, Lunchtime)

Students and staff will be required to practice 2m physical distancing with others outside their Learning Group and encouraged to practice physical distancing at all times when outside their classroom. 


Before school 

Students should not arrive at school early.  The school doors will not open until 8:45am.  Students will go to their assigned Learning Group entrance and practice physical distance as they enter.  Students will go directly to their class, avoiding loitering and visiting in the hallways to improve flow and reduce high traffic areas.  


At this time, we have a full closed campus.  Students are not to leave campus for any reason during lunchtime or other break times.

  • Students and staff will be encouraged to go outdoors often

  • Areas inside the school will be designated with signage and floor markings for specific Learning Groups.  For example, the South Wing second floor is designated for Learning Group 5

  • Practicing physical distancing with others 


After School

Students will go directly to their assigned exit at the end of the day, avoiding loitering and high traffic areas.  Students are plan to leave campus immediately, to practice physical distancing at all times while leaving the school grounds, and follow bus and water taxi safety protocols.  

Learning Groups


What are Learning Groups? 

A Learning Group is a group of students and staff that stay together throughout the school quarter and who primarily interact with each other.  The Learning Group maximum size for Stage 2 is 120 people for Secondary Schools like GISS.  

For Example, a Learning Group could be made up of: 

  • A single class of students 

  • Multiple classes that sometimes join together for additional learning activities 

  • A group of secondary students with the same courses or group of courses 

Learning Groups can also include staff, such as: 

  • Teachers 

  • Specialist support staff 

  • Education Assistants 

  • Administrators  


Learning Groups provide a range of benefits: 

  • Reduces the number of different interactions and potential exposures 

  • Supports better contact tracing  

  • More in-class learning time 

  • Increased peer interaction and support 

  • Decreased feelings of isolation  

At GISS, a student's Learning Group is selected mainly based on their course selections.  By selecting in this way, we were able to:

  • Create Learning Groups of under 120 students who take mostly the same courses each day

  • Keep the course selections students need for graduation intact

  • Minimize the disruption to the year's schedule


Interacting Within Our Learning Groups 

  • Students will do their self check each day and stay home if they have symptoms as identified by their self health check

  • Students will put on their Learning Group coloured wrist band when they leave the house to help them identify each other, and leave them on and keep them visible for the entire school day until they get home 

  • Students will enter and exit the main school building from their designated Learning Group entrance/exit locations  

  • Students will sanitize their hands every time they enter and exit school buildings  

  • Student will spend their day learning mostly within a set group of students and staff and we try to avoid physical contact with those in their Learning Group 

  • Students will wash their hands frequently throughout the day, especially after eating and when they transition to different locations 

  • Students will use proper coughing and sneezing protocols and will not share personal items like food, school supplies, or clothes 

  • If students need to share equipment, like electronic devices, they will wipe them down after we use them before putting them away or giving them to others  

  • When new students start at our school they will join a Learning Group

  • Students will follow the instructions on when and where to go during non-instructional time  

  • Students will pack in and pack out all of their personal belongings each day and they will bring a filled water bottle 

  • Students will clean up after themselves and their workstation before they leave   


Interacting with Someone from a Different Learning Group 

From time to time, people from one Learning Group will have to interact with others from another Learning Group for a variety of teaching and learning purposes. Both groups are always expected to maintain physical distancing (2m).  Secondary students and staff may be required to wear a mask anytime the 2m of physical distance cannot be maintained consistently.  Please note that masks are always an option for anyone wishing to wear one.  


Example 1 

A Grade 12 student needs to take a Pre-Calculus 11 class for their Graduation Program.  The only class offered this year is one that is outside their Learning Group.  This student can be in that class with another Learning Group.  The student will be required to sanitize their hands before they enter and physically distance from others in the class.  


Example 2  

Teacher A is an elective teacher that may teach a class that is a Learning Group that is different from their own their own.  Teacher A will be required to physically distance themselves from all students outside their Learning Group and students will also have to respect physical distance with that teacher.  

Interacting with Multiple Learning Groups

In some instances, people from multiple Learning Groups will need to interact with each other for various teaching and learning purposes.


A Grade 10-12 Fitness Class, where physical distancing is possible, contains groups of students from 3 different Learning Groups. The teacher will design the learning environment so that the Learning Groups are always able to maintain physical distance from each other.  Students will practice hand hygiene before they enter the gym, and signage and markings on the floor will help them minimize physical contact from those in their own learning group, and ensure physical distancing form those in other Learning Groups. 


When Interacting with other Learning Groups:

  • Students and staff will practice hand hygiene before they join another Learning Group

  • Students and staff will maintain 2m physical distance from other Learning Groups

  • Students will sit in their assigned seat when entering the class

  • Students and staff will follow all coughing, sneezing and sharing safety protocols just like when they are in their own group

  • Students and staff will follow all signage and floor markings when traveling in spaces shared with multiple Learning Groups 






250-537-9944 | Fax: 250-537- 9512 | 232 Rainbow Road · Salt Spring Island · British Columbia · V8K 2K3