Preparing for a Phased Return to School

Posted On Tuesday January 04, 2022

By Heather Grieve, Board Chair

January 3, 2022

On December 29, 2021, I participated in a meeting with BC school board chairs and superintendents. We were told that a full restart of K-12 school will be delayed until January 10th. Following the meeting, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a phased return to school for January 2022.

The BC Education Ministry website has indicated that some students can attend school on January 4, 2022:

All other children will return one week later on January 10.

We understand the purpose of the delay in school restart will allow the district and school staff to plan for how to implement recommended enhanced safety measures. We were also advised that the phased restart gives the province time to better assess the impacts of the Omicron variant and develop enhanced safety measures for a return to classrooms. 

Superintendent Nixon has met with district staff to discuss the enhanced safety measures for schools. More information about plans for learning continuity and for enhanced safety measures will be made available soon. The uncertainty for all impacted may be difficult but we will ensure that we update our staff and community as we are apprised of any new information. At this time, all parents can expect their children to return to school on January 10th.  We have been informed that school sports will continue with restrictions on spectators and no tournament play.

Minister Jennifer Whiteside said, “As we know the pandemic is changing, but the education system is nimble and strong. Our efforts are truly focused on minimizing disruption and absenteeism.” Our understanding is that the goal of the phased restart is to decrease the possibility of school closures in reaction to the pandemic evolution.  The minister emphasized that there will not be a series of school closures as a strategy for keeping schools safe; instead, this phased restart is “to ensure that we can keep everyone safe upon return and keep schools open.”

Many of the current safety measures will continue such as: using the daily health check, having staff and students stay home when sick, wearing masks that fit properly (this can continue to be non-medical masks), limiting time in crowded locations, proper respiratory and hand etiquette,  maintaining personally respectful spaces between people. Our staff will implement the following enhanced safety measures, which include: arranging classrooms for maximum space between students and staff; limiting visitors to the school/worksite to those that are supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and wellbeing (e.g., teacher candidates, meal program volunteers, etc.); and reducing crowding at transition times such as staggered start/stop times, breaks, lunches.  We look forward to welcoming our students and staff back to school for a vibrant new year of learning.

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on January 3, 2022

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