The province’s announcement on the back-to-school date had School District 54 (SD54) preparing a written plan last week to be submitted for provincial approval for a safe return of students and staff to the schools.
“I can’t really get into a lot of specifics because we are required to submit a plan to the Ministry of Education by the end of the week; till that time everything is hypothetical,” said Mike McDiarmid, the superintendent for SD54.
Once the school district submits a plan, the ministry will have to approve or ask for revisions on the plan based on the government’s Provincial Covid-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings document.
The document outlines BC’s five-stage framework for reopening schools as well as guidelines on student transportation on buses, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, curriculum, extracurricular activities, orientation practices, etc.
The document states that “while BC has announced a return to in-class instruction under Stage 2 for September 2020, school districts and independent schools must have necessary plans in place to be able to shift between stages if and when required.”
Stage 2 of the plan calls for full-time instruction for all students within specific group sizes or cohorts. The cohorts would basically have students divided into learning groups, with a maximum cohort size of 60 for elementary and middle school and a cohort size of 120 for secondary schools.
Last week, the Province announced a back-to-school date of Sept. 8 and then pushed it back by another two days to help staff and teachers better prepare.
“Yes we have those two additional days from the government, those days will be used to review safety plans and all the operational procedures under the guidelines, so that’s for the staff and after that, we will be inviting students in on Thursday and Friday and do the same things. Schools would be arranging those days,” said McDiarmid.
SD54 will also be running bus service for the students.
“We are planning on running them; there is a whole set of provincial regulations that we are going to follow and that will include masks,” said McDiarmid, adding that although masks are not mandatory, the province has recommended wearing masks when you can’t properly socially distance; such as in hallways and