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5 things New Westminster parents should know for back-to-school

Wondering about hot lunches, school closures, mask rules? We've got you covered.
Mask wearing remains a personal choice in New Westminster schools as students embark on the 2022/23 school year.

The first day — or, for many New Westminster students, the first hour — of the new school year is now done and dusted.

You’ve undoubtedly bought the school supplies, found the backpacks (and emptied out the sweaty socks and mouldy sandwiches from June) and managed to find some shoes that fit those fast-growing kid feet.

But have you remembered all those other details to make September go smoothly?

Here are five frequently asked questions for School District 40 parents:

How do I order hot lunches?

School District 40 is continuing with its hot lunch program for elementary and middle schools, and orders can be placed now.

The first hot lunch day is Monday, Sept. 19, when the program kicks off with the ever-popular perogies. You can order for as many or as few days each month as you like. If you don’t see a reminder message in your email, you can go directly to the hot lunch ordering website.

Which days are schools closed?

Yes, school just started for the year — but if you need child care for non-class days, then be sure to note two Fridays that are coming up fast.

Friday, Sept. 23 is a non-instructional day, so kids don’t go to class; and Friday, Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a holiday.

While you’re at it, you can check out the entire SD40 school year calendar to start booking future days as needed.

What should I do if my child is sick?

SD40’s health and safety protocols, in this third COVID-era school year, require families to continue with the practise of daily health checks — in a nutshell, if your child has symptoms of COVID or any other illness, keep them home.

(As always, this doesn’t apply to symptoms related to conditions such as seasonal allergies).

And, of course, if you do keep a sick child home, don’t forget to notify the school office.

Does my child need to wear a mask?

No. The school district’s guidelines specify that mask wearing is a personal choice but that the school environment will be “supportive for wearing masks” and that people will be “kind and respectful” towards each other’s choices.

“Masks are no longer required to be worn in schools. The decision to wear a mask beyond when it is recommended by public health is a personal one, based on individual preference. Some students and staff may choose to continue to wear a non-medical mask or face covering throughout the day or for certain activities,” the guidelines say.

You can find more, including a link to the district's health and safety guidelines, at the SD40 website.

What’s the safest way for my child to get to school?

If your child walks to school, the school district has provided information from the city about safe walking routes to each of the district’s elementary and middle schools.

For those who take public transit, there are a few extra buses on the job this fall to provide more efficient transportation, particularly on the #104 and #128 bus routes.

For those who drive, the city has installed temporary traffic calming measures around New Westminster schools, and it’s now seeking feedback about how well those measures are working before making permanent changes. Check out more at the city’s Be Heard website.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, [email protected]