By ALISON SIDOW
Superintendent of Schools, SD73
ON MARCH 17 the people of British Columbia learned that in-class learning in schools throughout the province was suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This week, a full week ahead of the vast majority of B.C. school districts, learning has begun for the 15,500 students throughout SD73.
We are especially focused on preparing Grade 12 students for graduation, protecting our vulnerable learners, ensuring the children of our essential workers are supported, and that our plan is sustainable for our staff, our students and their families.
Parents can be assured that there will consistency between all schools in the development and implementation of Continuity of Learning Plans while also providing flexibility for teachers to best meet the needs of their students.
It is important to remember that SD73 is not providing a full-service model of education. Providing learning opportunities for students and monitoring their progress is our professional responsibility and we will all do that to the best of our ability as we navigate these uncharted waters together.
Teachers are connecting with each family and/or student and taking the time necessary to develop meaningful learning opportunities for our students. If you are unsure about how to proceed with your child’s learning, please do not hesitate to contact your local school principal or classroom teacher.
The challenges of moving a large education system from classroom learning to learning from a distance cannot be understated. We all must be mindful of the challenges that our communities are facing and be patient and kind with one another as we address this global health emergency together.
Reach out to your neighbours and family and do not be afraid to seek support from our school personnel if the pressures are just too much at this time. We are happy to listen and direct you to one of our professional counsellors or community services.
We are grateful for the efforts of our healthcare professionals and first responders and plan on beginning the Essential Services Worker Program (ESWP) on Thursday, April 2. The first priority for the ESWP is our front-line health care workers. The program will be at two school locations, Pacific Way and Lloyd George Elementary.
The ratio of students to adults will be very low to ensure we follow the guidelines set out by our Medical Health Officers. As our staffing resources increase, consideration will be given to increasing the number of ESWP classrooms to expand access to the children of emergency and civic workers.
We know that every student eligible to graduate from Grade 12 wil receive their Dogwood diploma. We also know that graduation ceremonies are an important rite of passage for our students and their families. I’d like to reassure all Grade 12 students and parents throughout the district that it’s too early to make a final decision regarding graduation ceremonies.
On March 27, we heard from our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, that we are beginning to see the positive effects of social distancing and she urged every citizen to ramp up their efforts and remain at home.
We urge every parent to ensure their children practice social distancing and refrain from gathering in groups. If we remain united in our efforts, we will all contribute to protecting our loved ones, and our essential service workers who are sacrificing so much for our health and safety.
Alison Sidow is superintendents of schools for School District 73.