While most schools in the region had to go through making elaborate plans, divide students in cohorts and worry over social distancing, Babine Elementary-Secondary School’s back-to-school is almost looking like any other normal year, with a few small exceptions.
“Everything is going really well because we are below the 60 student limit for schools for a cohort, we are one single cohort, which means our required health and safety features are not quite as difficult to achieve as they would be at a bigger school. We are able to go along almost normally,” said Dylan Watt, the principal for the school, adding that the school had almost all its students back to in-class instruction with the exception of two or three students.
Currently, the school has a total enrollment of 32 to 33 students with almost 70 per cent enrollment coming from the reserve in Tachet. Almost 24 students travel every day to school from this reserve in the school bus.
“We have a 48-seat bus so each kid could have their own seat if they want but we are confining them in family groups. If they are not members of the same household, they have to sit in different seats,” said Watt.
Within the school premises, the staff and the students are following the usual social distancing rules, wearing masks wherever necessary, washing hands constantly.
“People have masks, any visitors also have to have masks and we all wear them if we are going to work closely with a student, point things out, give them a hand with something,” said Watt.
The students are urged to wash hands when they first enter the school, several times while they are in the school and once again before they leave the school. They also had a local paramedic come in to give a small demonstration on proper hand washing.
The school also has its students measure a one-hand distance when standing alongside their peers. This is especially strictly followed during the lunch queues where each student is asked to stand with their hand spread out just long enough to reach the person next to him/her and once they have the proper distance between them, they are asked to drop their hands and proceed to get their lunch.
“We are having a good start, we are being careful and we are just happy we dpn’t have all the restrictions of the bigger schools,” said Watt.
Since starting up, the school has participated in the Terry Fox Run and they also observed the Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 where the staff and the teachers discuss with the kids the importance of the day and conduct several in-class activities around the day.
“We are back in school, we have pretty much most of our kids. We have done quite well that way and we are just glad to be back and we are glad we don’t have all of the hassles that some of our sister schools have,” said Watt.