Families who opt to send their children back to school next week will have to grapple with extensive changes made to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
School District 8 released its re-opening plan Wednesday ahead of the province allowing students to voluntarily return to classrooms June 1.
The 42-page document provides direction for how education will work under strict provincial restrictions.
Here are some key points in the plan for parents and students to know:
You have to register before you return
Families need to complete a questionnaire about their child’s health before they will be allowed back in class. That registration can also be completed online at https://www.sd8.bc.ca/stage-3-registration.
Kindergarten to Grade 5 students will return to school two days a week, with online learning continuing Fridays. Students will be alphabetically split up into two groups and alternate either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday in class.
Grade 6 to 12 students meanwhile will only attend once per week.
Front-line families can have kids in school five days per week
The district began offering on-site education for children of essential service workers in April. That service will continue five days a week for families who qualify, as well as for students with disabilities or diverse needs or who require additional supports.
Nelson’s Hume School and South Nelson Elementary, as well as Creston’s Adam Robertson Elementary and nearby Erickson Elementary schools, will be open to those families from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What kids will need
Students should take snacks and a lunch that does not require microwaves, a full water bottle to accommodate for shut-off fountains and any required learning materials.
Everything taken into the school must be taken home at the end of the day and cleaned.
Masks aren’t required, but students are allowed to wear them.
Children must have their temperature taken prior to drop off and ensure it is below 38 C. The online provincial self-assessment must be taken and hands should be washed before leaving the house as well as on arrival at the school.
Parents and guardians aren’t allowed inside the school but can stay two metres apart on school grounds.
Buses will run on their regular schedules, but students will have to register ahead of time to be picked up.
When it’s time to go inside students will line up, be called in one at a time while a parent confirms they are healthy, and then directed to wash their hands.
Inside the school
Half the desks, chairs and tables in every classroom will be stacked at the back. Students won’t have access to their hallway lockers, but playgrounds will be used for recess. Breaks, including lunch, will be staggered, cafeterias will be closed and hand washing will occur throughout the day.
Elementary students, the document says, will have to keep their hands and feet to themselves but can be closer to each other than the required two metres for older students and adults.
Students who don’t follow physical distancing requirements, the document says, will have to stay home.
How marking will work
For kindergarten to Grade 6 students, report cards will take the challenges of learning during the pandemic into consideration. Assessments will be based on learning completed prior to the March spring break, and every student will move onto the next grade in the fall.
All Grade 7 to 12 students will also pass every course they were enrolled in. The graduation literacy assessment has been cancelled, and the only grad requirement will be the Grade 10 numeracy assessment that students can still take June 8 to 10.
No marks will drop below what they were at spring break, but final report cards will also consider online learning outcomes.
There’s one more step before full-time classes resume
The plan is defined by five education stages that begin at Stage 5, when the lockdown began in March, and gradually work up to Stage 1, which Premier John Horgan has said he hopes will be a full return to classes in September.
The district’s plan released Wednesday is Stage 3. The next stage after this calls for five days per week in class for kindergarten to Grade 7 students, and two days a week for Grades 8 to 12.
The document doesn’t say how in-class education will change to accommodate for physical distancing with younger children. Will elementary students have to stay in their seats while in class?
Teachers are also being encouraged to work regular hours. It’s not clear how they will balance in-class learning with online education for students who opt to stay home.
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