Central Okanagan schools preparing for September

Parents have now had a week to digest the B.C. government’s back-to-school plan for September.

Global News asked some B.C. parents if they had any concerns.

“I personally don’t have too many concerns,” said Josh Stehmeier, a Kelowna parent.

“My kids have been playing with other kids all summer long [with no problems], so no, I don’t have any problems with it.”

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Another Okanagan parent echoed Stehmeier’s comments.

“I wouldn’t say I’m not worried a little bit, of course it’s going to be a new phase. But as a health care professional, I’ve been working and living within the pandemic since March and I have full trust with the school district, the B.C. Ministry of Health, the B.C. Ministry of Education,” said Adria Misfeldt, an Okanagan mother.

Read more: B.C. premier says for now school will start as planned this fall, despite parent, teacher concerns

B.C. is a mere month away from schools opening their doors to their students.

Students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 will be heading back to the classrooms on Sept. 8th.

The Central Okanagan School District is one of the many school districts preparing its own plan, implementing the B.C. government’s rules for opening schools.

”We believe school will be available for in-class instruction for all  in the safest way possible and will meet the ministry’s expectations,” said Central Okanagan Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Kaardal.

On the advice from the provincial health officer, students will be organized into ‘learning groups.’

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‘Learning groups’ will see students arranged into a consistent group of staff and students — the idea being to limit the amount of contact between one another and to make contract tracing easier.

Read more: ‘We are stuck’: After-school care an extra worry for B.C. parents amid COVID-19

Kaardal says the current scheduling system they’re using can be modified for learning groups.

“We’re very lucky that some of our current school schedules really lend themselves to the cohort (learning groups) modelling suggested in the ministries plan,” said Kaardal.

Learning groups will be limited to 60 people in elementary and middle schools and secondary schools will be limited to 120.

“We might have to schedule different times for different cohorts (learning groups) to move so we don’t have everyone in the hallways at the same time, but all that planning is underway,” said Kaardal.

Read more: Canadian parents are setting up ‘pandemic pods’ during coronavirus: what are they?

Students were allowed to resume class last June on a voluntary basis. Kaardal says that has prepared them for the fall.

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“We had a very successful experience, I think with 43 per cent of students that returned (which was) about 9,500 students. We understand a bit more on how to configure classrooms (now),” said Kaardal.

School District 23’s plan will be finalized and submitted to the B.C. government in late August.

Dr. Bonnie Henry on why the cost of keeping B.C. schools closed is too high

Dr. Bonnie Henry on why the cost of keeping B.C. schools closed is too high

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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