School District 69 met virtually this week and discussed what returning to school might look like for students in the area.
The open meeting was well-attended, with 254 participants being present at one point. Questions from the public were deferred to a Zoom Town Hall scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. Information on the town hall, as well as a Q and A document can be found at www.sd69.bc.ca.
A main topic during the meeting was at-home learning. The board passed a motion that reads, “within the school restart plan to the Ministry of Education, include parents receiving home supports from their neighbourhood school based on concerns they have for family, health and well-being, even in the absence of (children having COVID) symptoms.”
Mask wearing was also a point of discussion, with trustee Julie Austin asking if there’s any talk about making masks mandatory at the high school level.
“Where we find students will be in common spaces… then we would see masks being either advised or required there, and I would lean towards being required,” said superintendent of schools Keven Elder.
Another was international students, whose attendance bring in a significant amount of money to the district. Gillian Wilson, associate superintendent of schools, said there are some international students who already had valid visas who will be able to return, but that no new visas have been issued since March. Some principals from the area created a quarantine and self-isolation procedure with help from the provincial health officer and doctors for students who are returning.
“Some went home and some chose to stay in our community,” she said. “It looks like we have perhaps about 30 students that are here and staying in our program, which is significantly less than what we had hoped for or anticipated… we are concerned because it does add value to what we can do in our schools.”
The official plan from the district will be submitted to the Ministry of Education by Aug. 21 and will then be shared publically on Aug. 26.
“Those plans will include overviews of: how we will organize for learning within the learning group maximum sizes as outlined in the province’s restart plan; health, safety and exposure control; transportation; custodial and cleaning protocols; support for unique and vulnerable learners; and, engagement with unions and First Nations,” read a Aug. 13 release from the district.