Sea to Sky School District kindergarten registration, vaccination records policy passed

Policy 502 was topic of discussion for several board meetings

Amendments to the age-appropriate kindergarten registration policy and vaccination records policy passed at the June 13 Sea to Sky School District board meeting. Students in the Sea to Sky District will, unless otherwise determined in a parent-principal meeting, be registered for school grades based on the year they were born. Parents or guardians will also, starting next fall, be required to provide vaccination records or indicate their student does not have immunization records.

"We're registering large numbers of students each year and we need to have a general, overall practice for placing students," Paul Lorette, the early learning assistant-superintendent said at the meeting. "What this does is it gives us the ability to have that default practice. That outlines the notion of student placements in a grade level being made according to the child's year of birth."

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The policy also outlines the process, called meaningful consultation, between parents or guardians with the principal if they want their child in another grade.

The 502 policy about student registration was amended to remove reference to a policy the board continues to work on. This may be re-added at a later date once the board is done with updates. At the previous board meeting in May, trustee and policy committee member Celeste Bickford asked if a more transparent definition of the meaningful consultation process could be included in the policy. A link explaining the process in more detail will be added. 

Bickford said the policy summarizes the provincial legislation about age-appropriate grades well. She said it was transparent, but allows for flexibility.

The link to the meaningful consultation process, Bickford said, "makes it so clear to both parents and people working with parents, expectations with respect to process. I think that a key thing for parents as well is that meaningful consultation is not the delivery of a preconceived decision or plan on either side. All parties, including parents, have to enter the room with an open mind for optimal decision making with respect to supporting a given child." 

The committee members were in agreement that an impact assessment was not required, as the policy was not substantially changing in regards to student age-appropriate enrollment. Trustees have the option to send a policy to the public for a comment and feedback period before it’s voted in.

As for vaccination records, the change was dictated by the Ministry of Education after a measles outbreak in the Lower Mainland earlier this year. As a provincial decision, the board must oblige. Previously, the school district said it would “prefer” to have students’ immunization records. This change does not require any child to be immunized, only to provide documentation of their vaccination status.

Superintendent Lisa McCullough said school board policies are always open to feedback. Board chair Rick Price said that since the vaccination record policy is mandatory from the Ministry of Education and the registration policy did not substantially change, putting the policy forward for feedback could create cynicism, given it was not likely to change.

Bickford added she didn't think the policy needed to be sent for feedback.

"This has been in the paper, the public is aware," she said. "People have had the opportunity."

No members of the public attended either the policy committee meeting earlier in the day nor that part of the public meeting when the changes were passed in the evening of June 13.

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