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COVID-19 Pandemic Information & Community Services




August 18, 2020: WSD Safe Return to School


To WSD Parents and Guardians

From Pauline Clarke, Chief Superintendent/CEO, Winnipeg School Division

Welcome back to the 2020/21 school year – a year which will be unlike any other. Much thought and planning has gone into Winnipeg School Division’s Framework for School Planning during COVID-19 Pandemic to ensure we can provide the safest return to school possible for our students. In all of our planning, we are taking direction from Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer and his department through the Public Health Guidelines and Manitoba Education for a consistent approach to education and priorizing the health and safety of students and staff as we address the impact of COVID-19. Manitoba Education has provided the following documents to further assist parents and guardians as we return to school:


We look forward to welcoming students back into our schools on September 8, however, we must remain flexible knowing that circumstances may change quickly. In-school learning provides our students with the best possible learning model with both interaction with their peers and in person instruction and support from their teachers and education assistants. We know that connection is vital in the development of our school community, and it is something we will strive to maintain.

Winnipeg School Division’s Framework for School Planning During the COVID-19 Pandemic is posted on winnipegsd.ca and is being updated as required. The Framework informs all of our 79 schools in developing their own unique return to school plan. No two schools are identical, and we recognize that serving the needs of our student communities requires each school to put in place the fundamentals of the Framework, while addressing their own opportunities or limitations. School specific plans are being prepared for the week of August 31 and will be communicated to parents by each school.

This document is meant as a guide for parents, guardians and the public to the larger Framework that will inform school planning. It was developed by WSD staff from areas including health and safety, building departments, teaching and learning, inclusive education, communications, research/planning & technology, business and operations, human resources and transportation. We have also had input from parents and guardians, staff and the public through a mechanism called Thoughtexchange.

On behalf of WSD Senior Administration, I extend my appreciation to the many people who have contributed and will continue to contribute to our safe return to school this fall. Our success relies on us continuing to work together for the benefit of our students.

Thank you for your support, patience and understanding during this unique school year.

Pauline Clarke


A SAFE RETURN TO SCHOOL – A GUIDE TO THE WSD FRAMEWORK FOR SCHOOL PLANNING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Introduction

The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority as we plan for the September 8, 2020 return to in-class instruction in Winnipeg School Division. At this time, Manitoba Public Health and Manitoba Education, have provided direction that our schools will be open to in school instruction with a strong emphasis on the importance of safety, health and well-being by taking reasonable measures and planning to minimize the risk of transmission and exposure to the virus in schools.

The most current WSD Framework for School Planning During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Framework) was released August 17, 2020. It is a work in progress and will be updated regularly. It will assist the Board of Trustees, WSD schools, administration, staff, families, and the community in making decisions for our students by serving as a resource and starting point for schools to use in local decision making. To view the full Framework, please visit winnipesd.ca.

What you told us

Winnipeg School Division reached out to our community through a Thoughexchange survey. We asked:

“What are the most important ways Winnipeg School Division can support your child(ren) as we welcome them back to classroom learning in the fall?”

The exchange was promoted on WSD social media channels, as well as through a letter sent home to parents through WSD schools. It was open and promoted for a period of five days.

There were a total of 2987 participants who shared 3103 thoughts. On average, 35 thoughts were rated per participant, indicating a high level of engagement with, and consideration of, thoughts provided by others.

We heard your concerns about safety protocols in schools/classrooms and student learning. There was also a clear desire for timely and clear communication between all parties to ensure that expectations and progress are consistently understood.

There were also concerns related to mental health and well-being, and children not being able to interact with their friends as they have in the past. 

Key Considerations in Planning

Cohorts: In classes, on buses and during activities when physical distancing may not be possible, emphasis is put on limiting interaction between groups and other public health measures. It is important to limit potential exposure by keeping cohorts (classes or groups of students) together and avoiding interactions with other cohorts. In the event that there is a positive case in a school, this practice can reduce the risk of exposure to students and staff, and will assist greatly in Public Health investigation.  

Cohort/Class Sizes: We will work to ensure that we don’t have overly large class sizes to minimize risk. Once we receive information from the pre-registration survey to families, we will have a better idea as to what class sizes will be (some students will opt for homeschooling). In the event that class sizes need to be adjusted, staff will explore strategies such as reorganizing classes or adding additional resources to the extent that the budget will allow.
 
Masks: WSD is following Manitoba Public Health’s recommendation on masks, and wearing a mask will be encouraged throughout schools when physical distancing is not possible. Students and staff should provide their own non-medical masks, however, they will be available at the school or on the bus if needed:

  • Students (Grade 5 and up), teachers, staff, visitors, and volunteers are strongly recommended to wear non-medical masks in common areas and where physical distancing of two metres is not possible. Students under Grade 5 are also encouraged to use non-medical masks.
  • There may be times throughout the day that students will have sufficient space to be physically distanced so that masks can be removed, such as during lunch breaks or mask-free play outdoors at recess.
  • Masks will be provided at the school if needed. Non-medical masks will be added on the school supply list as well.
  • Students in Grade 5 and up are required to wear medical masks before they are allowed on school busses and while they are on it.
  • A mask will be provided for them if they do not have one.
  • Students in Grade 4 and lower will not be required to wear a mask, but they are encouraged to wear a non-medical mask if they choose.

Student Attendance: Where remote learning is included as part of the learning plan for students at the high school level, students are expected to participate. Students who are unable to return to school due to personal or family health risks factors related to COVID-19 are required to provide their school administrator medical direction from their family physician. The school will consult with the family on an accommodation to support their remote learning.

Homeschooling: Where a parent/guardian opts to have their child learn from home, where there is no personal or family health risk factor related to COVID-19, the child must be registered in Manitoba Homeschooling. 
Homeschooling is when parents choose to be responsible for their child’s education and not have their child attend a public or independent school. When parents choose to homeschool their child, they are responsible for obtaining resources and materials for the program of study. Provincial funding is not available to families who homeschool.


Pre-registration survey

As we prepare for students’ return in September, we know that school will look different as a result of continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have been planning for our return and considering all possibilities to ensure that student and staff well-being and safety is the priority.

With confirmation from Manitoba Education and Manitoba Public Health that we will have in-person instruction five days per week for elementary students and at the minimum, two days per week for high school students, we are undertaking pre-registration of elementary, secondary and adult students asking for families to indicate their intentions regarding attending in-person or homeschooling in order to assist in our planning for September.

The process includes an online survey for parents and adult students (Google translation is available for this survey). A link to the survey will be sent to you tomorrow through this email service. The survey is also available to access via the Winnipeg School Division website winnipegsd.ca. The survey will be open from Wednesday August 19, 2020 and close on Friday, August 28, 2020.

The survey intention is to determine an estimate of the number of students who will be attending in person or who have opted for homeschooling.


Critical role of families

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for students and staff to stay at home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

Families can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by screening children daily for these symptoms and keeping them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The online COVID-19 Screening Tool should be completed daily, prior to sending children to school. Students showing any symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing or running nose, will be isolated at the school and the parent/guardian will be called to pick them up.

Parents/guardians are also asked to encourage their child to follow the health and safety measures put in place that their school. These include physical distancing, practicing good hygiene habits, including hand washing, and wearing a mask as appropriate. Each school will have protocols for pick up and drop off – please be aware of these and follow them accordingly.


Entering, moving through and exiting school

Before coming to school, all staff and students are expected to conduct a self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms using the screening tool linked above. Once they arrive at school, a second screening will be conducted to ensure no one exhibiting any symptoms comes into the school. This is our most important defence against transmission of COVID-19.

Students and staff will practice physical distancing and remain two metres apart to the extent possible and one metre apart at a minimum. Classrooms will be organized to encourage the maximum space between students. Floors will be marked with stickers to designate a one-way traffic flow and identifying two metre distances. Signage will be placed throughout the building to reinforce safety protocols. Where physical distancing is not possible in school offices and public reception areas, alternative methods of separation such as plexiglass barriers may be used.

Our goal is to maintain physical distancing whenever possible. In order to reduce the potential for larger gatherings of students, we will be limiting occupancy levels in common areas such as hallways, stairwells and libraries. Lockers will not be used by students at this time. Recess times will be staggered. Students who remain at school during the lunch period will eat their lunch at their desk.

Schools will determine local protocols including identifying entry/exit doors and parent pick up/drop off protocols.


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May 28, 2020: Schools open for in-person student time with teachers.


Dear Parent/Guardian:

The Province of Manitoba has now confirmed that it will move ahead with the Education portion of Phase II of its Restoring Safe Services Plan, with schools opening on a limited basis as early as June 1. Within Winnipeg School Division, each school has developed a plan to meet student needs for the month of June, and our staff who have been able to work from home will be returning on a gradual basis through June. Please note, however, that this does not mean a full return of students to the classroom. Access to the school will be by invitation only. The safety of students, teachers, school staff and families is paramount, which is why we continue to rely on the advice provided by public health officials.

Gordon Bell High School has developed a plan to gradually offer services through the month of June, which includes strict safety protocols, limited number of people in the building at any time, and invitations to each student to come into the school at scheduled times, at least once in June. Over the next couple of weeks, one of our staff will contact you to make arrangements for your child to come to school to meet with their teacher. Coming into our school is going to be different for the foreseeable future, as we implement screening, social/physical distancing and other safety protocols both at the entry and throughout the school and classrooms. You may want to consider talking about this with your child, especially younger children, so that they are not overwhelmed or frightened by the changes.

Please be reminded that no person showing flu-like symptoms will be admitted entrance to any WSD school or building. This includes coughing, sneezing, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath or runny-nose. Parents are asked to monitor their child's health using the Shared Health Self Assessment Tool before sending them to school. Students who show flu-like symptoms are asked not to report to school for their scheduled meeting. Intake screening will be conducted for all students before entering the building. Parents with younger children are asked to wait with their child until they have been screened and allowed to enter the school. If your child is unable to be allowed entry, they must be taken home. Participating in school re-entry in June is optional for student and families. Planning and assessment may be done remotely or in person depending on your family’s needs and individual considerations.

There will not be any lunch programs during the month of June and cafeterias will also be closed. As mentioned previously, student transportation is not being provided during June and it is the parent/guardians’ responsibility to make arrangements for their child.
Thank you for your patience as we navigate Phase II and our measured and strategic response. Our top priority continues to be the health and welfare of our children.

Mr. Vinh Huynh
Principal

Ms. M. Perrun
Vice-Principal

Mr. D. Anastasiadis
Vice-Principal

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April 6, 2020: WSD Admin Buildings closed to the public
All Winnipeg School Division Administrative Buildings are closed to the public beginning April 6, 2020 until further notice. 

WSD Schools will also be closed to the public during this time.


Are students and families allowed into schools to pick up personal items?

In following the Chief Public Health Officer's recommendations, our school buildings are currently closed to the public.

Access is limited to staff and deliveries only. A small number of daycares are still operating to support families of front-line workers.

Schools will be making arrangements over the next few weeks for students and/or families to pick up contents from lockers. It will be important to follow the provincial protocols with respect to physical distancing (two meters apart) and the limit of people in one location (10 people) including staff working in the building at that time. We appreciate your patience while these plans are put in place.

Thank you for your understanding, as we all do our best to keep everyone safe and flatten the curve.

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March 31, 2020: Classes Suspended Indefinitely

The Province of Manitoba announced today that the current class suspension is now extended indefinitely. Should a change in the COVID-19 pandemic situation occur prior to the end of this school year, the suspension may be lifted. We have shared the full news release for you on winnipegsd.ca/parents/pandemic planning.
 
Home learning will continue for students and Winnipeg School Division is continuing to support our teachers and schools in providing materials for parents and students to complete at home, starting again next week after Spring Break. Report cards will also be completed for the year, however the lowest grade your child will receive is what they had in each subject on the last day before the class suspension began, March 20, 2020. Students can continue to improve their final grades by completing home-learning assignments and participating in the home-learning lessons. Your school will be in contact with you following Spring Break with more information about home-learning packages for your children.
 
Grade 12 Provincial Exams have been cancelled and at this time, graduation ceremonies are on hold while the Province continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We sincerely hope that graduating students will have an opportunity in the near future to celebrate their accomplishments and WSD will support those efforts when the time comes.
 
Please note that all school field trips and events scheduled to the end of the school year have been cancelled.
 

Public Relations Services, Winnipeg School Division


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March 27, 2020

Update from WSD Senior Administration regarding Suspension of Classes

The Chief Provincial Public Health Officer indicated during a recent news conference that he expects the suspension of classes to extend further than the current end date of April 13, 2020 as Manitoba manages the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Winnipeg School Division is continuing to work with its Pandemic Plan and we are preparing for this eventuality, although it has not yet been confirmed by the Minister of Education. Our priority is to ensure that students continue to be supported in their home learning needs regardless of the length of the class suspension. 

We are also consulting with the Department of Education regarding provincial exams and other critical issues related to graduation and curriculum completion for the 2019/2020 school year. As we have more information, we will communicate this to our staff, students and parents/guardians.


Public Relations Services, Winnipeg School Division



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March 26, 2020 - Remote Lesson Plan Delivery

The staff and faculty of Gordon Bell High School are committed to providing high quality learning for our students during the two weeks of suspended classes, from March 23 to 27 and April 6 to 10. As a faculty, we will be guided by a commitment to flexibility, high expectations, and accessible support in developing all learning plans. This would include a conscious effort to ensure equitable access to diverse learning opportunities for ALL students. We will do our best to prepare for the different learning needs of ALL students so that they are able to continue learning in all their currently registered courses. During this time, all teachers are available to provide feedback, direction and instruction during the school day from 8:45 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. via email, phone calls (204-774-5401) and/or Google Classroom.

Teachers are responsible for the courses that they are teaching and assessing. At the same time, they also work as a part of a department/team and it is important that all departments are working collaboratively to ensure that we are aligning our teaching and assessment.

To achieve this consistency and alignment as a staff, teachers will present their learning plans for their classes, and will include information such as the following:

  1. Overview of the learning – What will you be learning? How is the learning organized?
  2. What students will need for learning – Required resources, optional resources and how to access them.
  3. Assessment of the learning i.e. How will you know how well you're learning?
    1. Learning activities, assignments, tasks.
    2. Rationale for the learning
    3. Criteria for learning
    4. Sending your finished assignments and receiving feedback.
  4. Support for students – What if students need help?
    1. Teachers are available via email, google classroom and phone calls, during the school day.
  5. Timeline – How much time will you need?
    1. Suggested timeline for work to be completed
    2. Students are able to set the pace for themselves in consultation with their teachers.
       

Mr. Vinh Huynh
Principal

Ms. M. Namaka
Vice-Principal

Mr. D. Anastasiadis
Vice-Principal

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March 20, 2020 - Suspension of Classes

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Dear Parents/Guardians: 

Classes in our school have been suspended until April 13, 2020. 

After today, all schools in the Winnipeg School Division have been directed to suspend classes by the Minister of Education in consultation with MB Health and the Chief Medical Officer due to the COVID-19 pandemic to help slow the spread of the virus.

HOME LEARNING

Classes are suspended, but learning continues! Our teachers have worked very hard this past week to prepare packages for all of our students for home learning during the class suspension period. Your child's teacher is also available during the suspension period by phone or email if you have questions about the lessons. Please contact your child's subject area teacher.  All subject teacher's emails are on the school's web page.

You can pick up your child's lesson package in front of the main office from March 23rd – March 27th from 9:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m..  We are closed for Spring Break and then will reopen April 6th – April 9th from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

CHILD ANXIETY

We know this is a very stressful, anxious time for everyone. Your child is likely also feeling the emotional impact of this pandemic. Even though everything we are doing is to PREVENT a spread of the COVID-19 virus, it may feel like the world is ending to many children. We have included with this letter information about supporting the emotional needs of students in response to COVID-19. We hope this is helpful to you in talking to your children.

BACK TO CLASS APRIL 13
At this time, schools are expected to resume normal classes on April 13, 2020. If that changes, here are some of the ways that this message will be communicated:

  • Message sent via email or school messenger
  • posted to www.winnipegsd.ca
  • put on school reader boards
  • posted on school doors
  • broadcast on radio, TV, news websites, published in newspapers

Meanwhile, here are some ways you can help your child and your family stay well.

Wash hands: Teach your child to wash hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 15 seconds. Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.

Elbows: Teach your child to cough or sneeze into the inside of the elbow. Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.

Eyes, nose, mouth: Teach your child to avoid touching his/her eyes, nose or mouth as germs and viruses can transfer from the hands into the body in this way.

Safety zone: Teach your child to stay at least two metres away from other people, especially those who are sick.

Please keep children at home. The purpose of suspending classes is to reduce interaction between people, especially children. During the class suspension, you are encouraged to keep children home, cancel play dates and outings in confined areas. Instead, consider taking children for walks in the fresh air or taking exercise apart from groups of people.

If you have questions, please contact your healthcare provider. For more information, contact Health Links (204) 788-8200 or visit the Manitoba Health website: www.gov.mb.ca/health

Sincerely,

Mr. Vinh Huynh
Principal

Ms. M. Namaka
Vice-Principal

Mr. D. Anastasiadis
Vice-Principal


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March 13, 2020: 

Dear Parent/Guardian:

Over the past two days, the Deputy Minister and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) have provided some additional direction to school divisions regarding containment of COVID 19. Here are the key messages we have received:

  1. There are no plans currently in place to close schools. (update: classes to be suspended as of March 23, 2020)
  2. School divisions are taking direction from health professionals at Manitoba Health – any decision to close schools will be at the direction of Manitoba Health.
  3. The CMO asked us to reinforce the following key points:
    a.   Social distancing – minimizing prolonged (10-minute threshold) close contact (within two metres) with other individuals; keep group work to less than ten minutes.
    b.   Reducing large group/crowded activities.
    c.   Encourage staff and students to stay home if symptomatic for the flu or the common cold.
    d.   Regular and proper handwashing for ALL students and staff.
    e.   If and when students or staff return to school after a short absence or trip, and are asymptomatic, they are to be welcomed back into the school setting. Only those people who are symptomatic should be referred to the two virus testing sites. For more information on self-isolation and self-monitoring, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/factsheets/coronavirus_selfisolation.pdf.
    f.   If any member of the family is showing symptoms, MB Health is recommending that ALL members of the household self-quarantine.

These messages are consistent with what we have been seeing in the media and on the MB Government website. 

Winnipeg School Division is taking measures to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our schools and the larger community. Our schools will remain open until we have direction to close any or all of them from MB Health and MB Education. The WSD Pandemic Planning Committee and Senior Administration has reviewed and updated the WSD Pandemic Plan and we are making some immediate changes to how we do business:

Managing Illness
  • Our schools must consider not only the health of the individual student, but also the health of other students and staff. We have shared the “Managing Illness” information sheet with all parents/guardians.
  • If your child shows signs of illness while at school, our schools have identified a safe, comfortable isolation space for your child to stay in while waiting for you to pick them up. The space will be cleaned rigorously after each use.
  • All employees and students who show flu-like symptoms are asked not to report to work or school and take the advice provided by MB Health including quarantine in residence.

Cleaning
  • Custodial Services has implemented a rigorous cleaning protocol in all of our schools and buildings.
  • Building managers/principals and head custodians are monitoring and recording compliance of the rigorous cleaning in each building.
  • Budget has been made available to schools to purchase additional supplies for the extra cleaning supplies required.

Events
  • Schools are cancelling all school assemblies, concerts, field trips and sporting events until further notice.
  • For a full list of events please visit winnipegsd.ca/parents/pandemic planning. We will be posting on this site as information is made available.

Permits
  • All permits with the exception of daycares, Before/Noon/After school care and lunch programs, have been cancelled until April 13 at which time the situation will be reassessed.

Social Distancing
  • Messages regarding physical contact, cough and sneeze etiquette, hand washing, the use of sanitizers and disinfectant wipes are being widely shared and circulated.
  • WSD schools are remaining open until we are advised to do otherwise (see update above), however, essential services are being reviewed and options assessed.
  • Principals are working with students who are on work experience or providing any in-home volunteer services to cancel these activities until further notice.

Meetings
  • Keeping in mind the need for social distancing, all planned meetings in the division are being assessed as to whether they can be postponed, cancelled or done by conference call. 

Travel
  • All division-related travel is suspended for staff and students where possible.
  • We encourage everyone to follow MB Health’s recommendation to eliminate non-essential travel. Our concern is that you may find yourself in a lockdown region with limited or no access to medical care and incurring the cost of extended stays. 

Communications
  • We urge all staff and our school communities to follow all health and safety protocols.
  • We will update the winnipegsd.ca/parents/pandemic planning page with new information as it is available.
  • Communication to parents/guardians will continue to be sent through the schools using your normal method of distribution. 

We recognize this is a lot of information to process and, while we are taking proactive and preventative measures within WSD, we are committed to providing quality education to our students while meeting this current challenge. 

Thank you to all staff for your continued efforts to keep our schools and work-spaces as safe and healthy as possible. We will do our best to keep you informed as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in our province.

Sincerely,

Pauline Clarke, Chief Superintendent and CEO
Chris Broughton, Chair, WSD Board of Trustees


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March 12, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians & Community Members:

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak continues to evolve worldwide with more countries reporting cases and an overall increase in case numbers.

Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living is recommending the following:
  • If you or your child have symptoms of a respiratory illness (regardless of travel), even if mild, stay home until all symptoms are gone.
  • If you have upcoming travel plans consider the following:
    • Review the latest Government of Canada COVID-19 related travel advisories at travel.gc.ca
    • Consider deferring travel if non-essential.
    • Be aware that health care services may be limited in some areas, and travel restrictions, including quarantine, may be put in place with little notice.
    • After traveling, self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties) for 14 days after your return. Should you develop COVID-19 symptoms self-isolate immediately and call Health Links-Info Santé for more information.

Winnipeg School Division has a pandemic plan which is initiated every year prior to flu season. This document outlines ways to prevent spread of illness, as well as a detailed plan as to how WSD would proceed in the event of a pandemic. 

Information will be posted on winnipegsd.ca/parents as the situation evolves. We will also inform you via letter sent home with students or School Messenger if the circumstance warrants it.

Any closure of schools will be at the direction of the Minister of Education and the WSD Chief Superintendent in consultation with MB Health. We will inform you immediately if this situation occurs.

It is necessary that we all work together to reduce the spread of germs and viruses. Here are some ways to do that:

Wash hands: Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 15 seconds.

Elbows: Cough or sneeze into the inside of the elbow.
Eyes, nose, and mouth: Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs and viruses can transfer from the hands into the body in this way.

Safety zone: Stay at least one metre from anyone who is sick.

Please keep children who are sick at home. Do not send them to school. They should not be around other people until they are better.

If you have questions, please contact your healthcare provider. For more information, contact Health Links (204) 788-8200 or visit the Manitoba Health website: www.gov.mb.ca/health

Thank you for your cooperation.

Yours truly,


Mr. V. Huynh
Principal

Ms. M. Namaka
Vice Principal

Mr. J. Anastasiadis
Vice Principal


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