School District 72 has a plan in place for a return to classes.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jeremy Morrow, said Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming confirmed that “optional in-class instruction for K-12 students will resume on June 1st.”
“We have received specific health and safety protocols and direction from the ministry and provincial public health that we will be adhering to as our schools resume in-class instruction,” Morrow said.
“Our school district is now developing its return-to-class plan which all school districts are required to develop and have approved by the ministry.”
Before students return in two weeks’ time, the district says it will make this plan and the protocols publicly available on its website.
In the meantime, the district will have the following health and safety protocols in place:
- desks spaced apart and avoiding large groups or gatherings of students in hallways or other common areas;
- regular cleaning of high-contact surfaces like doorknobs, toilet seats, keyboards and desks at least twice a day, and cleaning of the school building at least once a day;
- students, teachers, and staff will be required to clean their hands before entering school property, and there will be more hand-sanitizing and cleaning stations available, with well-stocked supplies;
- staggered drop-offs, lunch and recess breaks, with increased outside time;
- staff and students (or their parents/guardians) must assess themselves daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If any student or staff member has even mild symptoms, arrangements will be made for that person to be returned home;
- one student per seat on school buses, unless children are from the same house, with plexiglass separating the bus driver from students; and
- students or employees should not share food or personal items like phones, pens or pencils. Clear protocols also need to be in place for the safe and healthy handling of all food items.
The number of students in school each day will be reduced to make sure that schools are safe for students and staff.
For K-5 students, this means that students will go to school for two full days a week, with a small number of students in attendance – for example, the number of students will be no more than 50 percent of the provincial class size requirements.
For students in Grades 6-12, remote and online learning opportunities will continue with access to some school-based supports if teachers and parents determine it’s needed.
This means that some students may come to school for tutorials or to work on projects but at no time will a middle or secondary school have more than 20 percent of students in the building at any time.
Children of essential service workers in kindergarten to Grade 5 who have been accessing urgent childcare will continue to have the option to attend school full-time, and identified vulnerable students will continue to be provided with in-school supports five-days a week.
All school staff will be returning to their schools the week of May 25th to allow staff an opportunity to settle back into classrooms/schools and become familiar with the necessary health and safety protocols and building adjustments ahead of the return of a greater number of students.
Remote learning opportunities for K-5 will be temporarily paused the week of May 25 so that elementary school staff can plan prior to the return of students on June 1.
Morrow stressed that the return to in-class instruction “is completely voluntary for parents and we understand that it is a difficult decision for many to make.”
Meanwhile, a survey asking elementary parents and guardians if they would be willing to send their child(ren) back to school in June has been extended the survey until midnight tonight (May 19).
“Again, we know that you might have some apprehension in sending your child(ren) back to school. This is voluntary; no matter which option you choose your child will continue to receive support through this next phase,” Morrow said.
“We are now working hard to ensure that all the necessary protocols are in place across the district. The safety of students and staff is always our top priority and the framework through which we continue to make all decisions.”