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Canadians go to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20, and approximately 80 of our school gymnasiums will serve as General Polling locations for this year's federal election. Here's what you need to know about Election Day in our schools.
Health and safety is a top priority for both Elections Canada and Surrey Schools. As such, Elections Canada has implemented a number of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including hand sanitizer stations, physical distance markers and only one poll worker per desk behind a plexiglass barrier. District custodial staff will clean school sites before school opens on Tuesday.
Voters are reminded to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and bring their own pen or pencil, or take one of the provided single-use pencils to mark your ballot. Please bring your voter information card and relevant ID.
Voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with polling taking place in the gym. Setup will occur early the morning of Election Day and there will be no public access to other parts of the school.
School parking lots will not be available to voters during school hours, approximately 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Elections Canada staff have been asked to designate a volunteer from their group to direct parking away from school lots during the school day, unless the voter has mobility issues and needs to park in a handicap stall.
Once the school day is finished, and students and staff have vacated the school grounds, parking lots will be available to voters for the remaining voting hours.
Please note, traffic around school sites may be heavier on Election Day, and it may be beneficial to allow for additional time for drop-off and pick-up. If possible, consider walking to school to avoid congestion and to keep everyone safe.
The district appreciates the support and cooperation from our students, staff, and school communities.
The Community Programs Team with the Surrey RCMP is hosting a virtual webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 22 on back-to-school safety for youth and parents to keep students safe in this new school year.
Members of the Surrey RCMP Youth Unit, along with the
Youth Intervention Program and
Family & Youth Resource Support Team (FYRST), will speak at the webinar on Zoom and share child safety tips, resources and programs available to youth this school year.
The Youth Intervention Program works with an average of 300 at-risk youth per year to steer them away from a life of crime. The program has three full-time counsellors who provide family support and referrals to youth who have been involved in conflict or crime.
FYRST provides early intervention for Grade 4 to 7 youth to prevent them from making poor life decisions and instead make use of appropriate resources and supports. The program accepts referrals from Surrey and White Rock educators, community agencies and the public.
The webinar starts Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m., with the
deadline for registration on Monday, Sept. 20. Parents and youth can sign up
here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
For more information, see the Back to School Safety flyer or click on the image above.
Students from the district's WRAP program have designed a new mural titled Every Child Matters, to honour victims of residential schools and celebrate the stoic resilience of Indigenous communities.
Following the success of last year's award-winning 150-foot inclusive mural titled Common-Unity, PCI Developments reached out to the district's Safe Schools department about painting a 61-metre wall at Fraser Highway and Whalley Boulevard. Ten youth, including two Surrey graduates who were involved in last year's mural, joined local artist Chris Perez to create the mural, once again under the spiritual leadership of Const. Troy Derrick of First Nations Policing.
"A lot of the themes in the mural are connected to the ongoing journey of understanding when it comes to the history of First Nations people in this country," said Surrey Schools social worker Jon Ross. "We're all in different stages of learning the realities of how it presents today in our schools and the community.
"Half of the students who contributed are First Nations and it was really great having the youth support and understand and learn from each other."
The mural highlights themes of compassion, community and love throughout the piece, with each letter of "Every Child Matters" showcasing a different design from the students.
"Honestly, this painting is for our community, it's just a message to all the kids and older people that they aren't alone," said Mustafa Jamshaid Abasi, a Grade 12 student with the Surrey Transition and Education Program. "We want the legacy to be peace and positivity. We want people to understand that the meaning of being a true Canadian is to be someone who is making a difference one step at a time."
"I hope that by doing this mural with all these different souls, we will show that the next generations can come together too and co-exist without violence and spread awareness for Every Child Matters," said Maria Shorson, a Grade 12 student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary.
The mural is an initiative of the Surrey Wraparound Program (WRAP). WRAP is a partnership between the Surrey School District, RCMP and the City of Surrey. The program's objective is to positively attach youth to school, their community and the home by building a trusting and positive relationship. Parents, caregivers and/or guardians are included in goal setting while assisting the program's objective in building a positive lifestyle and self-worth for youth.
The B.C. government is providing funding for new playgrounds at Surrey's Senator Reid Elementary and T.E. Scott Elementary, as part of its Playground Equipment Program (PEP).
Senator Reid and T.E. Scott are just two of 60 schools across the province to receive $165,000 each towards accessible, inclusive playgrounds to be built over the next year. The new play areas will better support accessibility for students by including components such as ground cover, ramps and transfer platforms that connect to play structures.
"Physical exercise outside of the classroom is just as important for our students as exercising their minds in the classroom," said Laurie Larsen, chair of the Surrey Board of Education. "Play is a pillar of child development and these new playgrounds will provide kids the opportunity to learn teamwork, improve their life and motor skills, nurture friendships – and just have fun!"
The provincial funding also relieves school PACs (Parent Advisory Councils) of some of the responsibility for fundraising for playground equipment. Playgrounds are funded based on need and priority is given to schools without playgrounds, followed by schools with aging playgrounds.
For more information on the PEP, click here. For information on COVID-19 safety at playgrounds, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control's website.
The Surrey Board of Education, clockwise from top left: Gary Tymoschuk, Garry Thind, vice-chair Terry Allen, Shawn Wilson, chair Laurie Larsen, Laurae McNally and Bob Holmes.
The Surrey Board of Education is holding its first board meeting of the school year this week, marking the return to in-person attendance, with some changes to protect the health and safety of our community.
This Wednesday's meeting (Sept. 15) will offer limited seating to ensure adequate spacing for members of the public who wish to attend. Advanced registration is required by emailing the Secretary-Treasurer's Office at SECT-Office@surreyschools.ca with your name and phone number.
"It is exciting to finally connect in-person with members of our school communities again," said Laurie Larsen, chair of the Surrey Board of Education. "All of the trustees are looking forward to safely hosting public board meetings at the District Education Centre again as life in the district, in Surrey and White Rock, and throughout B.C. starts to look more like it did before the pandemic."
Attendees must follow district health and safety protocols, and are required to wear a mask at all times when inside the District Education Centre (DEC). This includes common areas such as lobbies and waiting areas, hallways, stairwells, elevators and washrooms.
Hand sanitizer will be provided and there will be directional arrows for entering and exiting conference room 2020.
Board meetings will continue to be livestreamed, recorded and published online so they are still accessible remotely for those who are unable to attend in person or wish to participate virtually.
Members of the public may pose a question to the board by completing the Questions to the Board form and emailing the Secretary-Treasurer's Office at SECT-Office@surreyschools.ca. A response will be sent to you directly.
Board meetings for the 2021-22 school year are scheduled as follows:
Meetings start at 7 p.m. in conference room 2020 on the second floor of DEC, 14033 92 Ave. For more information on upcoming board meetings, as well as minutes and recordings of past meetings, visit our Board Meetings page.
As we enter the second week of school, we recognize that some of you may still have questions about what you can anticipate in this new school year. To help answer your questions, Superintendent Jordan Tinney met with our regional Medical Health Officer, Dr. Ariella Zbar to film this informative video that answers frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and the updated provincial health and safety guidelines for B.C. schools.
This video includes responses to the following questions that we've received from staff, students and parents. For ease, we have included time stamps for each question (these time stamps are hyperlinked in the Vimeo comments section):
Play is integral to the health, well-being and education of our students, and with the appropriate safety measures, playgrounds are a safe environment for our elementary students.
According to the updated Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings, there is no current evidence of COVID-19 transmission in playground environments.
Students and staff are reminded to follow a few key measures when using playgrounds.
Playgrounds are just one area where our health and safety protocols apply. Students are asked to continue to Check Up, Back Up, Wash Up, Mask Up and Vax Up.
For more information on how to stay safe and healthy, read about our health and safety protocols.
Whether you take the bus or share a ride to school, it's important to practice COVID safety on your commute and continue to follow the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings to and from school.
Surrey Schools is taking important health and safety measures to ensure our buses are safe for students.
"The primary focus with the service that we provide is, and always will be, safety," said Thomas Choe, Manager of Transportation and Central Stores with the district. "That's always been a priority, and now with the COVID protocols, we have been more stringent around cleaning and disinfecting our buses."
Choe said the district is going above and beyond the provincial guidelines, which require frequently touched surfaces in buses to be cleaned and disinfected at least once per day. Instead, he said staff are cleaning and disinfecting buses before and after each run, and using electrostatic sprayers to "fog" buses from floor to ceiling with disinfectant and hospital-grade cleaning solutions during the day.
"It's a very thorough and effective cleaning apparatus that we use," he said. "It's just that extra measure of safety to minimize the chance of spreading any type of virus while on board the bus."
In addition to cleaning and sanitizing, bus drivers and passengers are to practice hand hygiene before and after trips, and continue to respect others' personal space. If empty seats are available, students should space themselves apart. Windows may be opened for fresh air when the weather allows.
Drivers, adult volunteers, visitors and students in Grade 4 and up are to wear masks according to the K-12 guidelines or applicable public health orders and recommendations. K-3 students are encouraged to wear masks.
Choe said he hopes students who carpool to school also take precautions, such as spreading out occupants as much as possible, only travelling with the same people and setting the vehicle's ventilation to bring in fresh outside air instead of recirculating air in the vehicle.
"Anybody who is carpooling, we certainly would like to see them use masks and hand sanitizer to avoid any chance of spreading the COVID virus," he said.
For more information, see the provincial guidelines, read the district's Health & Safety protocols and look at the BCCDC's recommendations for Carpooling.
The Surrey Board of Education is pleased to announce the appointment of Jon Harding as Secretary Treasurer.
Jon brings a wealth of knowledge and an array of experiences to the position, including financial roles with the Office of the Auditor General of BC, Legislative Assembly of BC, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. His most recent role is Chief Operating Officer with Harper Grey LLP, a Vancouver-based law firm.
Jon is a designated Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) with a Master's degree in Classical Archaeology.
As Secretary Treasurer, Jon will oversee the business divisions of Finance, Purchasing and Administration, and Facilities and Planning, as well as provide support to the trustees as Secretary to the Board of Education.
The Board of Education and Senior Executive Team look forward to working with Jon as he lends his financial and business leadership for the benefit of our staff, students, and school communities.
Please join us in welcoming Jon to his new position. He will join Surrey Schools in November.
Jon is succeeding Greg Frank, who served as the district's Secretary Treasurer since 2016 and who is retiring. We thank Greg for his years of service and wish him all the best in his retirement.
Breakfast and lunch programs at schools across the Surrey School District will continue supporting students full scale, thanks to donations from both longtime donors and new supporters alike.
Throughout the pandemic, Surrey Schools has received ongoing commmunity support for its meal programs, allowing the district to provide breakfast to over 1,400 kindergarten to Grade 12 students across more than 60 sites and lunch to approximately 1,800 students across 33 schools. Starting the school day on a full stomach has been linked to improved concentration, increased energy and a contributing factor to better success in school for our vulnerable learners.
"Our donors and supporters recognize the important role that a healthy breakfast and lunch can play for students when it comes to their readiness to learn in the classroom. With that in mind, they are stepping up to the plate once again to help ensure meal programs continue supporting students across our district," said Harman Dhaliwal, Manager of Business Development with Surrey Schools.
"Heading into this school year, we've received an incredibly positive response from our donors saying, 'Count us in. We want to help.' We've greatly benefited from our long standing donors returning to support in 2021-22, as well as new donors who wish to join in supporting our cause."
With a greater number of students returning to full in-person instruction this school year, projections for student need around food insecurity may be greater than last year.
"We are grateful for all of the support we receive from local businesses, community groups, non-profit organizations and individual donors," he said. "Every donated dollar makes a difference."
If you or your organization are interested in supporting the Surrey Schools Meal Program, please contact the district's Business Development Office at 604-595-6066 or email email@example.com. A tax receipt will be provided for all donations of $25 or more.