Essential service workers have child care option in Powell River

School district cares for children

School District 47, in collaboration with BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, is offering child care for children aged zero to 12 of tier one and tier two essential services workers, as identified by the ministry of education, at its school sites.

According to superintendent of schools Dr. Jay Yule, physical distancing and cleaning protocols are in place at all school child-care sites to meet the provincial health officer’s guidelines.

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Yule said students are provided small group child care by creating learning opportunities, outside play time, and arts and crafts.

“We are so appreciative of school district employees who stepped up and volunteered to change their assignments to help our community in this crisis by caring for essential services workers’ children at schools,” said Yule.

School district after-school program coordinator Dana Sanderson is assisting in providing resources to each of these sites with literacy games, numeracy games, and arts and craft activities to supplement learning opportunities provided by regular classroom teachers. Gardening is one of the many activities child-care students participate in because it provides them the opportunity to be outside, socially distancing, and see the fruits of their work. 

Westview Elementary School principal Shannon Behan said the first children arrive at 7:30 am and school is open until 4:30 pm. She said there are multi-age groups in each classroom and one adult per five children.

“We follow all of the protocols from the ministry of health so every child has a station, they are six feet apart from one another and everybody has their own supplies,” said Behan. “We just follow health and welfare protocols. The kids try to do some of their schoolwork from the classes that the teachers send.”

The children also have outside breaks during the day. They are involved in activities such as outside dancing and gardening: activities that can be done ensuring social distancing.

“We keep that as a regular part of every single day,” said Behan.

Children are supervised by educational assistants at the school.

“We try to keep everybody busy and everybody happy,” said Behan. “They (the children) bring their food in from home. We just try to follow all of the protocols as best we can. Our job is to support families in our community as much as we can.

“The staff here is amazing, especially early on, when everyone was quite frightened. The staff that stepped up to come and provide child care is remarkable.”

Behan said there are typically 30 kids coming to Westview Elementary School daily. She said there are also students at James Thomson and Edgehill elementary schools in the child-care centres.

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