Just over half the parents who answered a Campbell River School District survey on the voluntary return to in-class instruction said their kids would be back in school this week.
The survey was sent out to the families of elementary school age children a few weeks ago to help the district plan for this week’s partial, voluntary return. Of the 2,400 surveys that went out, Superintendent Jeremy Morrow said 82 per cent came back and of those, 57 per cent of parents indicated they would be sending their kids to school in June when the district began its version of the B.C. government’s stage 3 restart plan.
During the virtual May 26 Board of Education meeting, Morrow outlined parts of the plan including the district’s 23-page COVID-19 School Occupancy Protocols document and an idea of general scheduling – how many days a week students would be attending school and how that changes depending on their grade.
The bottom line: schools are going to look a lot different than they did before spring break.
In elementary schools, students will attend school two days a week, either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays are earmarked for remote learning and schools will receive a “deep clean”.
At middle schools, students in Grade 6 and Grade 7 will each attend one day per week. Grade 8 students will be split into two groups with each group attending a different day. Just like in elementary schools, Wednesdays are reserved for school cleaning and remote learning.
In high schools, each grade will get its own day to attend school. At no time will the school’s population be over 20 per cent of its usual occupancy.
SD72’s occupancy protocols are based on directives from Dr. Bonnie Henry and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. (BC CDC) and outline everything from physical distancing to hygiene to classroom set-up.
While the protocols remain the same throughout the district, how each school implements them will be up to them. So what’s happening at Ripple Rock Elementary may not be the same as what’s happening at Penfield Elementary.
To provide students and their families with a glimpse of what school life will be this month, Sandowne Elementary staff put together a video demonstration.
They show some of the signage students and parents can expect to see, go over arrival protocols (cleaning your hands as you enter the building, handing in your health check form), how classroom furniture may be arranged differently and what may happen if a child becomes ill while at school.
While personal protective equipment is not required for most staff or students, if people decide to wear it, they can.
Enhanced cleaning protocols are in place with special attention for high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, tables and telephones.
Classrooms have been decluttered with only “essential, daily required” teaching items left in classes. Teachers have been encouraged to create a “minimalist” space with only the supplies and furniture needed. Desks are to be spaced to allow “a degree of physical distancing.”
Recess and lunch breaks are to be staggered to limit the amount of students gathered outside at any given time. Balls and equipment can be shared, but students will have to wash their hands after they use them. Playground equipment is off limits.
Lockers, water fountains and water bottle-filling stations will be off limits as well.
Schools will continue their food programs, offering childcare support for essential workers and expanding services for vulnerable students.
On June 1, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shared a video message with B.C. teachers and staff assuring them that schools are a safe place to be with extra safety precautions in place.
“The time has come to open up our schools and classrooms carefully and thoughtfully and to find the right balance to finish this school year,” she said.
“We are still going to be extra cautious. We need to stay diligent and that’s why we are looking at a measured gradual approach to transitioning more students into the classroom in the coming weeks.
“This is not forever, but it is what we need to do now.”
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