Why Trust the SD73 Education Re-start Plan?

Posted On Tuesday September 01, 2020

By Rhonda Kershaw, Chair Board of Education

September 1, 2020

There is a feeling of uncertainty for some members of our communities as the first day of school approaches. Parents, students, teachers and staff are being asked to trust the District and the SD73 Education Re-start Plan. I know this is a big ask. The Board of Education understands people may feel concerned. Let me explain why we support this plan.

We trust the direction provided by our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. We agree, “It is that important for us to be able to have school, manage school, despite having a pandemic ... we can get through this, and we will be working together to make sure that we have the things that are needed in place."

The District is following her guidance and the parameters she has set with the Ministry of Education. The District plan has been approved by the Ministry of Education, and it is supported by our education partners. The plan has been reviewed and input was provided by the Kamloops District Parent Advisory Council, the SD73 Board of Education, the Kamloops-Thompson Principal and Vice-principal Association, the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers Association, the Aboriginal Education Council, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3500.

Schools will look different this year. They will not be open to the general public, they will be controlled spaces, with parents and caregivers making appointments to visit. Stringent hygiene and cleanliness standards will be kept and students will have contact only with others in their learning groups. This contact will not necessarily occur with everyone in their learning group every day, but it may occur over the course of the school year. There’s a lot more to say about how schools will be kept safe in the Maintaining Safe and Healthy Schools Guideline – COVID -19, posted to sd73.bc.ca.

Parents and caregivers have options. Distance learning and homeschooling are alternatives to in-class instruction. Equity and inclusion will be a particular focus for each student.  SD73 students with an Inclusive Education Plan (IEP), who attend in person or enrol in Distance Learning at @KOOL will continue to receive support. Students who need to stay home because they are immunocompromised will have an at-home learning plan and be provided with an educational program. Schools will be providing social-emotional and well-being supports for students and staff.

Beginning this week, every family will have an opportunity to discuss their child’s options with their home school before the start of the school year. School staff will be reaching out to answer questions, provide information, and help parents determine the best option for their children.  

We all have a role to play in keeping each other safe this school year. That includes staying home if we feel ill, and as parents, keeping our children home if they are ill. I encourage you to read the SD73 Re-start Plan,  the Health & Safety Guidelines, the FAQs posted on the District website, and your school website.

We are confident in our principals, teachers and support staff, and we know our schools,  communities, and most importantly, your children are in good hands as we begin the 2020-2021 school year. We look forward to welcoming our staff and students back to our schools.

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on September 1, 2020.

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