March 23, 2020
Dear International Agents and Parents,
We are writing to provide you with an update and additional information related to the COVID-19 situation here, so that parents can make a prudent decision in the interest of the health, safety and well-being of their child.
We recognize that not all international parents may have access to factual and up-to-date information about the health situation here in British Columbia. We have provided links to several key websites that parents can refer to:
- The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, and the province declared a State of Emergency on March 19.
- Many people believe that the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada is underreported. In British Columbia, only certain groups of people (such as those requiring hospitalization, and health care workers) are able to access testing. Travelers returning from international destinations, and citizens who have had contact with an infected person are not being tested.
- B.C. doctors warn that British Columbia is on the same trajectory as Italy, and have urged the provincial health officer to introduce stricter measures to contain the virus in the province.
Many of our students have returned already to their home countries, and many have plans to depart in the coming days. We understand that border closures and restrictions make it challenging (or inadvisable in some cases) for some students to repatriate. Some parents may be waiting to see how things unfold; however, the window of opportunity appears to be quickly closing, as many international flights are being cancelled, and reports indicate that most commercial flights may not be available beyond the end of March.
No one is immune from this disease. As the virus continues to spread in our community, it is possible that host family members could fall ill, and given the unique circumstances that we are in, we would not be in a position to be able to move a student to a new home. The risk, as this crisis goes on, is that homestay families may find themselves unable to continue to provide adequate care and support for students, and as a school district, we may be limited in our capacity at this time to be able to promise the health and safety of our students. In times like these, there is no easy decision. However, it continues to be our belief that it is best for students to be with their families in this time of global crisis, while there is still the means to do so.
We would like to reassure families that all of our students, no matter where they are in the world, will continue to be students in our program until June 30. There are still many details to be worked out regarding what programming will look like, and we will be in touch as soon as we have more information.