Smithers Secondary grades 10-12 will follow a Hybrid model. (File photo)

Smithers Secondary grades 10-12 will follow a Hybrid model. (File photo)

School District 54’s back-to-school plan approved: Here’s what to expect

Hand hygiene, learning groups and screening, among the many new protocols to be implemented

School District 54’s back to school plan has been approved by the Ministry of Education and the school has now updated their website with the plan along with health and safety guidelines.

On Aug. 26, Education Minister Rob Flemming announced the ministry’s approval for the back to school plans submitted by all the 60 school districts in the province.

“We’ve had a chance to review each of these plans, and I’m impressed by the thoughtful, considerate and innovative local solutions that we see within those plans,” said Flemming during the announcement adding that each school district’s plan would differ based on the size, space, parental feedback and staff agreements.

The schools under School District 54 (SD 54) will group students into learning cohorts or groups as per the BC Centre for Disease Control guidelines. All the students at Houston secondary and students belonging to Grades 8-9 at Smithers secondary would follow this cohort model. While all the students will be expected to attend the school every day to emphasize on in-class instruction, the exception will be for Smithers secondary Grades 10-12, who will follow a Hybrid model with half the class attending in-person instruction every day.

Students will also be provided bus service with cleaning and hygiene protocols in place and assigned seating with seating as per cohorts or family groups. Students belonging to Grades 5 through 12 would be expected to wear non-medical masks on the bus whenever possible. Additionally, students from Wit’set would also be eligible for bus transportation made possible through a dialogue between the district and the Kyah Wiget Education Society to support students from that community.

Students with special needs would be given priority for in-person instruction and those who wouldn’t be able to attend school due to disability or COVID, would be given support through their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The school district also outlined their health and safety guidelines in the back to school plan which include having additional hand washing stations, wearing non-medical masks for staff and students from grades 5-12 whenever possible within their cohorts or at places where social distancing is not possible and student-screening for symptoms upon arrival. Any students or staff members who show symptoms would be quarantined until they are able to leave.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) that represents bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, the IT tech department, indigenous workers, basically everybody that’s not a teacher, is supportive of the back to school plan.

The CUPE President for the Bulkley Valley region, Rolanda Lavallee said, “CUPE fully supports the back to school plan. We realized we needed to increase the custodian staff and SD 54 has 100 per cent agreed.”

Two permanent custodian positions would soon be posted for Smithers and Houston to ensure there is adequate cleaning happening during the day for high-touch areas, and then more cleaning in the afternoon to ensure the school is clean, secure and ready for the next day.

“This is a very scary time for everyone involved — staff, students and parents, but we have collaboratively been working hard on our health and safety plan, our pandemic plan and I think the new policies and practices that are being put in to place, are going to ensure the health and safety of students and staff,” said Lavallee who has been a custodian with the school district for 10 years.

As previously announced, teachers will be returning to schools on Sept. 8 for two days of orientation on health and safety and planning, before students return on Sept. 10 for a similar two-day orientation.

Superintendent Mike McDiarmid, in a letter to parents on Aug. 26, said,” As a parent, I do understand there is a wide variety of opinions about how schools should operate in this COVID environment. I believe that following the advice of our health care professionals is the right course of action.”

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

Like us on Facebook and follows us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have been doing a lot of lately. Winter is here folks get your shovels out! (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Canadian’s favourite pastime

Snowplowing isn’t really our favourite pastime but it is something we have… Continue reading

Raising money

Recently 2021 grad and parents sorted through all the bottles they have… Continue reading

Big shout out to Houston RCMP

A Houston resident submitted this photo of Houston RCMP lending a hand… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week (Nov. 23) at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Entire gym class at northern B.C. high school isolating after confirmed COVID case

Contact tracing by Interior Health led to the quarantine

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

Most Read