Schools remain closed to the public as School District No. 73 makes plans next week with school staff to address the learning needs of students over the next several months.
Principals and managers will be reaching out to staff starting March 23 after the regular one-week spring break to provide them with a schedule for attendance to ensure social distancing measures are followed. Additionally, the district has scheduled a minimum of one custodian during the day for continuous cleaning and disinfecting, and additional support staff will be reassigned exclusively for surface cleaning.
“We are asking parents to please reassure your children that their teacher will be in touch with them very soon with a plan to reconnect them to their learning,” said Alison Sidow, Superintendent.
SD73 is also requesting parents to ensure their children are practicing social distancing. “We are taking tremendous (steps) to protect our students and staff at this time, yet many youth are gathering in large groups at beaches, in the outskirts of town, and on the playgrounds despite the advice from the Provincial Health Officer,” said Sidow.
The district is working on an expedited plan to have most of its school-based staff work from home. This option, however, is not possible for everyone. Additional precautions have been taken for employees who will remain on their regular work schedule including custodians, maintenance, IT, HR, communication, and finance staff who are doing everything they can to keep the organization running safely and smoothly.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all of us to remain calm, to be safe, and to be kind to each other during this these unsettling times,” said Sidow, in a message she sent to all staff on Sunday, March 22.
“I have been assured by a Medical Health Officer from Interior Health, that there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in either our staff or our students at this time and I applaud those who have self-isolated when experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms as recommended by our Provincial Health Officer.”
In the wake of the news that in-classroom instruction was suspended, the district has been developing a continuity of learning plan to ensure students remain connected to their teachers and continue to learn. There is a particular focus on preparing Grade 12 students for graduation, protecting vulnerable learners, and ensuring the children of essential workers are supported.
As preparations are underway to support student’s learning from a distance, schools will not be open to students or the public. Please do not return to school to pick up resources or personal effects unless contacted by your child’s teacher or principal. A schedule will be prepared by each school to allow for the safe pick up of resources and personal belongings that follows the social distancing guidelines set out by the Provincial Health Officer.