School Handbook

The Greater Victoria School District is committed to each student’s success in learning within a responsive and safe environment.

We believe that:

  • All individuals have the capacity to learn and the power to positively influence the future.
  • High expectations are appropriate for all students. It is essential to treat all individuals with dignity and respect.
  • Access to educational opportunity should be equitable.
  • Safe, healthy, clean environments enhance working and learning.
  • Learning is a personal, lifelong experience.
  • Involvement of students is vital to the successful operation of the District.
  • Schools, parents, and the community are partners in education.

At Sir James Douglas, our mission, values and beliefs guide us as we support our students’ learning, progress and achievement. Our ground rules assist us in being a vibrant and effective teaching community.

Sir James Douglas Mission is to:

  • Celebrate our differences
  • Encourage growth
  • Ensure respect
  • Share responsibility
  • Demonstration fairness
  • Promote acceptance
  • Welcome challenge

Sir James Douglas Values and Beliefs are:

  • We value diversity
  • We value challenge and growth
  • We value acceptance and compassion
  • We value confidence
  • We value fairness
  • We value fun
  • We value teamwork

Ground Rules for Our Team are:

  • We listen actively
  • We respect differences
  • We arrive on time
  • We participate and contribute
  • We use a common language to problem-solve
  • We collaborate for problem-solving
  • We focus on solutions
  • We share resources & knowledge
  • We model the behaviours we expect from others
  • We are curious and open
  • We act with compassion



Goal 1:  Improving reading  – by increasing the number of students in each grade who are proficient or extending in reading

 Goal 2: Improving students’ self-knowledge of their mental well-being and capacity for empathy – through the school-wide use of the Second Step Program

Goal 3: Improving numeracy skills and a sense of efficacy in the face of complex numeracy activities –  by increasing the number of students in each grade who are proficient or extending in numeracy



DISTRICT COUNSELLOR – The counsellor serves Sir James Douglas School on a part-time basis and is available to help students and families if the need arises. Contact may be made through the school office.

SPEECH AND LANGUAGE – The district Speech and Language Pathologist assists our students with articulation of speech and language development. If you have concerns, contact your child’s teacher.

LEARNING SUPPORT SERVICES – (French and English) – This program offers small group instruction for students who would benefit from additional academic assistance. Students whose first language is not English can also be supported with small group instruction.

OCCUPATIONAL AND PHYSICAL THERAPY SERVICES – These specialists assist our students with their fine and gross motor skills. If you have concerns in this area, contact your child’s teacher.

LIBRARY PROGRAM – Staffed by a qualified teacher-librarian and a library clerk (part-time), we offer a library program for all children. Our collection includes fiction and non-fiction, magazines in English and French, as well as a good reference section with print and online resources.

MUSIC PROGRAM – We provide music for all students at S.J.D. including classes with the music teacher where they learn songs, dances, and to play recorder or ukulele as they get older. Choir is accessible to all students from Grade 1 to Grade 5 during the lunch hour once a week. There is also a district strings program offered to all Grade 5 students twice weekly.


We believe that through a strong parent/teacher partnership the education of children is enhanced. The following outlines some of the methods of information – sharing that exists to maintain this partnership. This list is not under any circumstances meant to preclude less formal means of communication, such as telephone calls, notes, messages, conversations and informal visits.

  • Visit the School District 61 Web site and click the link for schools, elementary to access Sir James Douglas School information such as newsletters, SJD handbook, calendars, school supply lists, and school and PAC events.
  • Classroom websites or blogs: These sites can be accessed through the staff directly on the school website.
  • School Newsletters (Memos) are sent home electronically on a weekly basis on the last day of the week (usually on Friday afternoon). These newsletters provide information about school or classroom activities; upcoming events and activities at the school; safety procedures, health concerns, parenting tips, etc.
  • Student Report Cards – 3 formal written reports; 2 informal meetings. The formal reports occur in December, March and June. Teachers prepare extensive written reports of student progress at these times. Following these report cards, parents may arrange interviews with teachers. There are also interim reporting periods where teachers provide either an oral, written report or conference, in order to communicate with parents. Meet the Teacher Night is a great place to begin contact with your child’s teacher.
  • Meet the Teacher Night – we host a Meet the Teacher night each September. Please watch for this information in your September newsletter.
  • Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences – are scheduled within the year. There is a fall conference and a spring Student Led Conference. Please watch the regular newsletters for more information.
  • Parent Communication Board – by the main entrance to the school contains information, newsletters, recent forms, etc.
  • PAC Meetings – announced in advance via the school newsletter by the P.A.C. President. These meetings are usually held once a month on the third Wednesday and everyone is welcome to attend. Meetings are held in the school library beginning at 6:30 p.m. Babysitting is available by reserving ahead of time in advance.


We believe that as student’s progress through the grades, it becomes increasingly important for them to acquire good independent work habits. Homework is important in the growth of these work habits and, therefore, involving students in school work at home can be beneficial to skill development by reinforcing learning that has taken place at school. Primary classrooms usually involve students in a nightly home reading program. Students in the intermediate grades often have a variety of homework assignments as directed by their teachers.

Grades 4 and 5 should do 30 minutes of homework per night. Occasionally an individual student is asked to work for longer periods in order to meet specific needs. As the curriculum content increases through the intermediate grades, homework may be assigned for the following reasons:

  • To complete daily class assignments
  • To drill and review material learned
  • To review for tests and to prepare for assignments
  • To complete long-range project work
  • To enrich the learning experience of students

There will be occasions when students are not assigned specific homework. They should use these times to study previously covered material. Frequent review is one of the best ways to learn material. Homework is more effective when it is monitored carefully by parents and teachers. The key to the success of any home study program is establishing and maintaining a schedule. This is particularly true when projects are assigned to be completed over a longer term. Such a schedule needs to be discussed and worked out so everyone understands the assignment and makes the commitment to complete the work. You may wish to discuss this further with your child’s teacher.

Teachers at Sir James Douglas request that intermediate students use a daily agenda book where they keep track of their homework, projects and other responsibilities. Often parents are asked to sign this book. The agenda is a valuable tool which helps to enhance organizational skills and promote home/school communication.

Assemblies are held on a regular basis. The assembly dates are listed in the calendar as part of the newsletter. Parents are welcome to attend assemblies and are encouraged to do so in order to support their children and the school.

SJD holds events such as:

  • Guest authors
  • Terry Fox Run
  • Guest performers/speakers
  • Pink Shirt Day
  • Fundraising for global causes
  • Grade 3 Bike Rodeo
  • Student performances (e.g. choir, strings, classroom songs or dances)

Sir James Douglas plans for five supervisors to be on duty at the back of the school and one at the front of the school during our recess and lunch play breaks. Grade 5 student monitors help out by being in Kindergarten to Grade 4 classes while children eat their lunches. Grade 5 leadership students volunteer to be additional playground helpers with our youngest students. Adults assist directly with our Kindergarten students during their eating time at lunch each day. Supervision is also provided on the front playground for 15 minutes immediately before and after school each day.


Remain outside until the bell at 8:45 a.m. in order to enable teachers to prepare for class. Students can enter through the main doors (on Thurlow Rd.); by the gym door; various main floor doors or via the bridge to the second floor. Teachers will let their class know which door to line up at prior to the morning bell each day.

For safety reasons after 9:00 a.m. all entrances but the main door on Thurlow Road will be locked.


  • If you need to take your child out for an appointment, an event or if they have become ill please sign them out through the staff in the school office.
  • If you are bringing your child to school after the morning bell, please sign your child in with a staff member at the office. Students are recorded as LATE if they arrive once announcements have started (usually 8:45 a.m.).
  • If you are volunteering in the school please check in with the office, sign in and wear a visitor’s badge.


  • walk in the halls quietly so as not to disturb other classes
  • keep to the right when moving in the halls or on the stairs
  • arrange to meet friends outside rather than in the halls or classrooms


  • be outside unless there is a note from parents due to illness
  • play fairly and use their WITS
  • eat their recess treat outside (except kindergarten)
  • eat the snack sent by parents and to NOT SHARE SNACKS 
  • put any garbage or recycling in bins provided
  • remain on the school grounds

LUNCH ROOM (11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.) ALL STUDENTS ARE EXPECTED TO:

  • eat, sitting at a desk, and talk quietly. Students eat at hall tables when directed to do so by a staff member.
  •  eat only the food that is sent by parents or food provided under the lunch program that has been ordered by parents. Children are not to share or swap food with each other.
  • clean area after eating (use recycling tower and classroom compost)
  • gain permission of the lunch monitor to leave the room to use the washroom
  • dismiss when directed to do so and walk directly outside

LUNCH RECESS TIME (12:10 TO 12:35 p.m.)

Students are to:

  • remain on the school grounds unless going home for lunch and accompanied by an adult.
  • sign out with a staff member at the school office if going out for lunch with a parent/family member. Please remember to sign back into the office with a staff member upon your return.
  • play fairly and safely, using their WITS.
  • stay on the side of the playground they begin on (either front or back) but not cross over during the same play time. Kindergarten children are to play in the wood chipped area at the back of the school
  • follow safety guidelines for noon hour games as determined by adult sponsor.
  • respect out-of-bound areas as described to them by their teachers and supervisory staff.


  • written permission must be given each time for children going to the fish & chip shop across from the school (the school does not provide supervision for students going to/from the fish & chip shop)
  • students are to go directly to the fish & chip shop and then back to the school. Permission is not given to attending the corner store to purchase other items unless discussed directly with the principal or vice-principal.
  • students may go between 11:50 – 12:10 only and be back on the school grounds as soon as possible
  • care must be taken with fish and chips to avoid making a mess / recycle waste
  • do not share your fish and chip lunch with others in case of allergens in the food


  • remain in their classrooms and engage in quiet activity
  • cooperate with supervisors/monitors


  • exit the building as soon as dismissed and to exit quietly
  • exit by the door closest to their classroom

WAITING FOR SCHOOL DISMISSAL – All parents are asked to meet their children outside by the exit closest to their children’s classroom. Kindergarten parents should pick up their children near the classroom door that exits to the outside. It is important to instruct your children what they should do if you are LATE in picking them up.

  • ask them to always wait for you at a pre-determined place for a specific period of time. For example, the child is to wait inside the front entrance until they hear the bell at the end of supervision (3:05 p.m.).
  • If it happens that no-one shows up to pick up a child, they should report to the school office to see if a message has been left. A bell rings at the end of the outdoor supervision time. This bell can signal your child to check in at the office if he/she has not been picked up from school.
  • The child will wait in the office until appropriate arrangements can be made.
  • Please make sure your child knows the after school plans for getting home or meeting someone to afford interrupting classes in session.

We have several open areas (PODS) inside the school which are designed for instructional purposes. Please do not wait in these areas for school dismissal.

Please do not use the staff parking lot.  All parents are asked to ensure their children’s safety when bringing them to school in the mornings, whether you walk, ride, or drive to school. Parents are asked not to wait in the school with their child.  Children should be waiting outside.


  • Please respect the 30 km/hr speed limit on the streets around our school.
  • Use the pull through for quick drop offs and pick ups only. If you need to get out of your vehicle to pick up your child, please park somewhere else.
  • For safety reasons do not turn left when leaving the pull through.
  • Do not stop on Moss Street to drop off your children in the morning. Stopping hear increases the risk of accidents for all children crossing the street, and can cause traffic delays.
  • Do not park at the Fairfield Community Association parking lot unless you are on FCA business. Parking here causes problems for their preschool children arriving.
  • Do not park in the staff lot unless you are volunteering in the class, for a field trip or similar event. The FCA also uses this lot for programs in the Garry Oak Room.
  • For safety reasons – DO NOT DROP CHILDREN OFF in the Staff parking lot.
  • Do arrange a place to pick up your child that is not in the pull through zone.



We do not have recycling or compost available for students at the school.  Any wrappers or food waste in students’ snacks or lunches will be sent home with your child to be recycled or composted there.

Sir James Douglas plans for five supervisors to be on duty at the back of the school and one at the front of the school during our recess and lunch play breaks. Grade 5 student monitors help out by being in Kindergarten to Grade 4 classes while children eat their lunches. Adults assist directly with our Kindergarten students during their eating time at lunch each day. Supervision is also provided on the front playground for 15 minutes immediately before and after school each day.

Please remember to dress your children appropriately for weather conditions. Send warm coats, hats, and gloves for cold, windy days labelled with your child’s name. We have outdoor recesses whenever possible, even when it is raining lightly.

Students who ride bikes, scooters, skateboards or roller blades to school are not to use these items on the grounds from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30p.m. Those using:

  • Bikes: dismount bike by the road and walk to bike racks for lock-up
  • Skateboards: dismount skateboard and carry until the bell rings
  • Scooters: dismount at the street sidewalk, fold up scooter and carry until the bell rings
  • Roller blades: sit down and remove roller blades outside school and put on street shoes.

Roller blades and soccer shoes are not to be worn in the building at any time.

Students should leave electronic devices, cameras, cell phones and the like at home. If a cell phone is required to be at school for safety reasons it is to remain turned off and out of sight until the end of the day unless specific arrangements have been made with your child’s classroom teacher. Students are to use the school phones only during school hours. Electronic devices and cell phones can be very distracting and can be easily lost or broken. The school will not be responsible for electronic devices brought to school by students. Children are not to use cameras or digital recording devices unless under direct supervision by a staff member.

Students and staff are highly sensitive to perfumes and other scented products. Most, if not all fragrances contain phthalates and toxic synthetic chemicals such as formaldehyde, which can trigger asthma in adults and children. Some body sprays such as ‘Axe’ can trigger allergic reactions and respiratory problems with people that already have asthma. Other strong fragrances can cause headaches and nausea. There is growing evidence that fragrance chemicals pose a threat to human health and to the environment. Brochures with more information are available from our library.

The school’s three-line system is heavily taxed throughout the day. For budgetary cutback reasons we cannot add lines to the system and we have reduced the amount of clerical time we have by making use of an answering machine. In order to keep on top of this difficult situation the following will be used as guidelines for telephone use:

  • messages taken for telephone calls (staff or students) made during instructional time will be left in the teacher’s/staff member’s mail box
  • messages regarding changes in after school pick-up of children will also be placed in the teacher’s mail box. When these messages are not left at the school before noon, the teacher may not have an opportunity to pick them up from the office and pass them on to children. In order to assist parents in situations like this, we suggest that you make the following standing arrangements with your child(ren)
  • ask them to always wait for you at a pre-determined place for a specific period of time. For example, the child is to wait inside the front entrance for five minutes past the regular pick-up time
  • if it happens that no-one shows up to pick up a child, they should report to the school office to see if a message has been left
  • the child will wait in the office until appropriate arrangements can be made
  • “emergency calls” only will be passed along to the children
  • The office phone is not to be used to make play date arrangements. Please call from home preferably the night before.

We believe that student achievement, motivation and self-esteem can be positively affected by the prudent use of reward and award schemes that operate at the classroom and school level. At the classroom level each teacher develops an approach to recognize student effort and progress in a variety of subject areas through verbal praise and extrinsic rewards. Each teacher develops such schemes based on the specific make-up of their class and the student’s attitude towards such recognition. Usually teachers prefer to “catch a student doing well” and reward such behaviour.

The school in general has a role to play in the recognition of students. At Sir James Douglas students who participate on school teams, choir, musical productions, etc. are recognized at regular school assemblies. Furthermore, through student leadership and/or school clubs and activities, the school recognizes the service and leadership provided by students.

We also believe that the awards that single out the best or highest achievement of individuals in classrooms or in the school in general in academics, sports or fine arts are inappropriate at the elementary school level. We encourage parents to discuss with each teacher the classroom approach to recognizing achievement and motivating students to give their best effort. It is our opinion that when parents dovetail their own efforts with that of the teacher, the best possible situation exists.

The extracurricular sports activities and opportunities are designed to support the regular physical education program. Some additional opportunities may be school-wide, such as the Terry Fox Run, and the Skip-A-Thon, while other opportunities such as swimming, skating, orienteering, etc. may be developed by the classroom teacher. The emphasis for these activities is participation, skill development, team-work and fitness. However, as the activities become more formal, as with the representative teams, additional skills of developing positive attitudes to competition, belonging to a team, commitment, “doing one’s best”, accepting/respecting judgements from the referee and coach, self-control and respect for opponents are stressed.

There are noon-hour or before/after school activities played in the gymnasium or the field for students. Activities can include: soccer, basketball, floor hockey, track and/or minor games.

We have several clubs and activities such as green team, chess, library and stamp club at SJD that meet over the lunch recess. Children are encouraged to join whatever interests them and it is a great opportunity to socialize with their peers.

Sir James Douglas, as a kindergarten to grade five school, will provide rep teams based upon the availability of coaches/sponsors and student interest. Some of the traditional G.V.E.S.S.A. activities of cross-country running and track will be offered to grades 3, 4 and 5. Jamborees or play days will be organized within the Victoria Family of schools. Other traditional activities of volleyball, basketball, swimming and rugby may be offered through the school or community. Grade 3 students would be involved when possible with such activities as cross-country, track and swimming.

Letters will be sent home with regard to individual activities being offered, with an explanation of the specifics of practices/games, the commitment requires, student expectations and request for parental support.

Recognition of student participation, success and personal best performances may be given in newsletters, morning announcements and assemblies.

Participation in this area is a natural outgrowth of the instructional program opportunities for grade 5 students to perform publicly at assemblies, concerts and occasionally in the greater community.


  • Students at Sir James Douglas have many opportunities to develop leadership and citizenship skills through volunteering. These programs are just a few!
  • LUNCH ROOM MONITORS – Grade 4 and 5 students are asked to volunteer the first half of their lunch hour to monitor students in classrooms. These students also supervise and coordinate activities in the classrooms on rainy day recesses and lunch hours.
  • PLAYGROUND MONITORS – Intermediate students are asked to volunteer during the recess and lunch outside play times to assist in the kindergarten play areas.
  • BUDDY SYSTEM – Younger students are “buddied” with older students. Structured activities present opportunities for interaction between the two age groups.
  • RECYCLING AND COMPOSTING PROGRAMS – All staff and students participate in recycling and composting at SJD. Students can volunteer in their classroom to ensure that these programs work well. Our school also has a Green Team that recycles the drinking containers and takes on specific environmental projects that benefit the school as a whole.
  • ASSEMBLY HOSTS – Students participate in many of our assemblies by hosting, making presentation and putting on skits or performances.
  • ANNOUNCEMENT HOSTS – Students are asked from time to time to make announcements based on school events or clubs.

P.A.C. (Parent Advisory Council)

All parents of students of Sir James Douglas School are general members of the Parent Advisory Council. An Executive Committee is elected every September by nominations to drive the group. Meetings are held monthly with prior notice via the school newsletter. Discussions are held on issues and concerns of parents. Events, activities and programmes are organized with intent to enhance the educational climate and community spirit of SJD. You are encouraged to bring your ideas or concerns to the group for discussion. Our e-mail address is


Building Security
We have been increasing both the security of our school and our ability to monitor the people coming and going throughout the school day. All doors but the main entry are locked during the day after 9:00 a.m. and the front door is locked at 4:00 p. m. each day. The rear entry door reopens at 2:50 p.m. for parents coming to pick up their child from the Out ~ of ~ School – Care. All doors can be exited from inside the building.

Safety Drills
Safety drills are practiced as a regular part of our safety plan throughout the school year. Drills are not announced to parents or students, but the teachers are aware of the day the drills will take place. The more practice students have, the more prepared and calm they will be should a real emergency arise.

  1. Fire Drills – Fire Drills are practiced on a regular basis in conjunction with the Victoria Fire Department who monitor our Fire Drills and inspect our buildings for fire hazards.
  2. Earthquake Drills – Our Earthquake Preparedness Plan combines continuing efforts to ensure that the building is as structurally sound as possible and that non-structural hazards are reduced, as well as making sure that we are prepared to respond appropriately in the event of an earthquake. Earthquake drills are practiced annually.
  3. Lockdown Drills – This drill has been added in response to the changing times and will be practiced in the spring. There have been occasional incidents in schools in our district when it has been deemed necessary to have children remain secured in their classrooms. Incidences range from a gas leak to a cougar sighting. This drill is designed to be as close to our earthquake procedures as possible and will be handled in a low key manner. It will be practiced by the students on a very limited basis, although the staff will be well versed in the procedures. Students will be aware of it being a “drill” as this word will be used specifically on the P.A. system beforehand.


In the event of a declared emergency, we wish to provide the best possible care for your child. We would like to remind you that if such an emergency occurs while school is in session, the following procedures will be followed:

  • As practiced during the emergency drills, students will be evacuated from the building to designated safe areas of our playground. We are prepared to care for your children in times of critical situations for up to twenty-four hours. Following this, community resources will be utilized on the school grounds.
  • No students will be dismissed from school unless a parent/guardian or designated adult comes to the school for the child. Please ensure that your designate(s) agrees to perform this duty, and, if possible, provide identification in order to pick up your child. For this purpose, a Consent for Emergency Release of Students/Medical Information Form will be sent home for completion at the beginning of September.

We hope that an emergency situation does not arise, but in the event of a major earthquake, we ask for your help in the following areas:

  • Please do not call the school. We must keep our telephone lines open for emergency calls.
  • Please do not drive immediately to the school. The school access route and street entrance areas must remain clear for emergency vehicles. Walk if possible.
  • Turn your battery operated or car radio to a Victoria radio station in order to receive information and directions regarding schools and other matters.
  • Please remain calm. We will make every effort to protect and provide for each child.

Thank you for your cooperation in our efforts to ensure our schools emergency preparedness.