We are Stronger Together as a Community

Posted On Wednesday September 01, 2021

By Rhonda Nixon, Superintendent

September 1, 2021

In less than one week, 2,000 teachers, administrators and support staff welcome 15,000 K to 12 students back in class for full-time learning. Kamloops-Thompson students can look forward to resuming sports, music, and other extracurricular activities.

While we recognize that families and students are excited to see each other in school in September, we know that there is some anxiety about what school will look like. Safety remains our top priority. Back-to-school is not quite the normal that we had hoped for, but we are confident that our health and safety guidelines: continued mask wearing, daily health checks, staying home when sick, a continued focus on hand washing, daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and other health and safety measures will keep students, parents, and staff safe.

The updated COVID-19 communicable disease guidelines for K-12 schools align with current public health advice and were developed in collaboration with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, BC Centre for Disease Control, WorkSafeBC, and the Education Steering Committee. Based on these guidelines and in consultation with Interior Health, our COVID-19 Response committee has co-developed our SD73 Communicable Disease Prevention Plan, which will be available this upcoming week as our staff continue to work together to ensure a safe school start-up.

While the pandemic protocols for the restart have certainly been top of mind, so has SD73’s role in Truth and Reconciliation. On my first day in the district, May 28, the devastating news of the discovery of 215 children’s bodies at the Kamloops Indian Residential School was released. Given that this is an especially vulnerable time for our communities, school and district leaders began the year with professional learning on August 26 to learn how we can continue to move forward with Truth and Reconciliation. 

Throughout July and August, the District’s Emergency Response Committee activated its protocols when Evacuation Alerts or Orders were issued for several of our communities, which also affected the families attending those eleven schools. My heart goes out to those staff and families who work or attend Westwold and who lost their homes or who were impacted by the fires. District and school staff continue to support those individuals impacted.

We will continue to monitor the situation, to work together to ensure the safety of students and staff, and to attend to air quality, should it become an issue.

In my role as the new superintendent, I marvel at the resiliency of the people in our rural and urban communities. This has been evident in the way that everyone has helped each other to persist through the challenges of the past year, which I witnessed first-hand during this summer’s intense wildfire season. There is no doubt that we are stronger together as a community. I look forward to continuing to get to know more people and to learn firsthand about our communities throughout the school year.

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on September 1, 2021

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