Powell River school district outlines reopening of schools

Letter sent to parents and guardians explains plans for grades K to 12

School District 47 is preparing for a return to in-class instruction on June 1.

In a May 26 letter to parents and guardians, superintendent of the board of education Dr. Jay Yule said he would like to thank parents for their patience and understanding as the school district works through these unusual times.

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“I am writing to you today to clarify what we have planned for the rest of the school year, and provide you with as much information as is available,” stated Yule in his letter. “I hope this will help with your decision regarding sending your child(ren) back to school June 1, or, continue with remote learning, or both.”

Yule stated that schools will reopen for in-class instruction commencing June 1 under the guidance of the provincial health officer, who has deemed it safe to do so with stringent preventative and safety measures.

“Sending students to school is voluntary as remote learning will continue,” stated Yule. “Reopening of schools is part of the provincial restart plan, which is a gradual resumption of social, educational, and economic activities. The restart plan includes a five-stage return to full in-class instruction in kindergarten to Grade 12. We are at stage three at schools, guided by strict health and safety standards.

According to a survey carried out in the school district, elementary parent responses to date indicate 41 per cent of students will be returning to school. Secondary school data has not been confirmed.

“We are also asking families who normally take the bus in elementary school if they will need to use this service,” stated Yule. “A recommended option is to transport students yourselves, if possible.”

Secondary students who cannot arrange transportation should contact their school, stated Yule. Schools will continue to offer full time support to students of essential services workers who cannot find child care, and to vulnerable students who require full time in-class support. 

Elementary students from kindergarten to grade seven will be able to attend in-person half days Monday to Thursday. Kindergarten to grade three will attend mornings from 9 to 11:30 am and grades four to seven will attend in the afternoons from 12:30 to 3 pm.

Grades 8 to 12 will be able to attend in-person five hours per week (one day per week).

“The learning arrangements will ensure that groupings do not exceed the ministry density targets for our school populations,” stated Yule. “In all cases, we ask that parents and guardians do not enter the school site so that we can keep the number of persons on site at a safe level. Meetings over the phone may be arranged in advance by contacting the school.”

As the transition to part time in school instruction occurs, the health and safety of students, staff, and families is the highest priority. Yule, in his letter, outlined a number of safety measures in schools.

A requirement for parents, students, and staff members is to do a daily self-assessment for symptoms of COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold and to stay home if any symptoms, however mild, are identified.

Remote learning will continue as parents make a choice to voluntarily send children to school. Parents do not have to make a choice between in school or remote; both modalities of learning will continue, according to Yule.

Updates will continue to be posted on the school district’s website: sd47.bc.ca.

“We are taking a cautious, measured approach, under the direction of our provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry,” stated Yule. “We ask that if you have not registered to return to school and change your mind, to please contact your school principal prior to returning so we can plan and arrange for the safe return of your child.”

As the transition to part time, in-school instruction occurs, the health and safety of students, staff, and families is the highest priority, according to the letter. Safety measures will include but are not limited to: 

  • Limiting the number of students in schools at one time to support physical distancing and/or reduce physical contact.  Staggering lunch breaks, recess, pick-up and drop-off times. 

  • A review of available spaces in schools to adjust things like hallway flow, and the number and sizes of groups congregating in common areas.

  • Rigorous cleaning schedules for high-contact surfaces, and a daily deep cleaning of school buildings. 

  • An increase in the number of hand sanitizing and cleaning stations.

  • A requirement for parents, students, and staff members to do a daily self-assessment for symptoms of COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold and to stay home if any symptoms, however mild, are identified.

  • Ensuring bus transportation is safe by having one child per seat unless children are from the same household, and maintaining a safe, physical distance between the driver and passengers, which in some cases, may include a barrier. 

School District 47 is committed to ensuring continuity of learning for all students, according to the letter, including the following:

  • Supports will continue to be in place for the social and emotional well-being of all students and staff.

  • Centralized meals program will continue to operate.

  • Playgrounds and fields will be reopening under the guidance of our provincial health officer.

  • Remote learning will continue as parents make a choice to voluntarily send children to school. Parents do not have to make a choice between in school or remote, both modalities of learning will continue.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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