With the return to school fast approaching, principals, parents, and child care providers across the Elk Valley await confirmation from the Ministry of Education to finalize their plans for September.
According to the Government of British Columbia, despite the challenges that the pandemic has imposed on the upcoming school year, students in the province are expected to be able to return to in-class learning come September 2020.
According to a release sent out by Silke Yardley, Superintendent of the Southeast Kootenay School District, all school plans are to be posted on school websites by Aug. 26. Schools will begin a question and answer period for parents between Aug. 27 and Sept. 1. On Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, staff will meet to review COVID-19 protocols, and then students will attend school Sept. 10 and 11.
At the moment, the Southeast Kootenay School District has submitted their District Stage 2 Restart Plans to the Ministry of Education for review, and will release school plans upon receiving confirmation.
“These plans contain overarching district protocols as well as specifics for our individual schools,” said Yardley. “We know there has been a lot of worry about how our plans will look. I can assure you that our working group, along with school staff, have been working very hard behind the scenes to create solid plans for bringing our students and staff back to school.”
Many principals throughout the Elk Valley who have plans in place are awaiting announcements from the ministry to confirm what their return to school will look like. Many of thoe schools told the The Free Press that they were waiting for the go-ahead from the B.C. governent.
According to Jamie Chisholm, manager of Fernie School Aged Care, they were playing the waiting game as well.
“We are running as normal in September for now, but that will all change if the school decides to do an irregular schedule, however we are unable to do much until we know the school schedule.”
In response to the upcoming school year, the Elk Valley Physicians also released a Facebook post reminding the public to support one another when deciding whether to follow through with in-school learning, distance learning, home schooling, or a blended model.
“Be reassured that schools are working with our regional medical officers of health to make sure school is as safe as it can be,” read the post. “Essentially, we are all responsible to keep our community safe.”
The post was followed by a number of recommendations, including keeping kids at home if they experience symptoms of COVID-19, wearing masks, and continuing to practice social distancing and proper hygiene.