School opening: Parents of school children have been kept well-informed by their local school districts and schools, but many others have been wondering about the safety of our community’s children and all those who interact with them. Many parents are concerned, as well, that the increase in potential exposure by way of their children and their “learning groups” could render them ill, unable to work, and in some cases, perhaps even homeless.
For Rossland’s own Seven Summits Centre for Learning, Vivienne Hurley says, “Our innovative approach and experience in delivering online courses with in-person teaching and full centre support is a huge advantage to local families as our cohort can continue to pursue an uninterrupted, safe, robust high school education, whatever the future holds.”
Hurley provided the COVID-19 protocols at Seven Summits Centre for Learning:
· Students/staff will wear masks in high traffic areas (entering the building, hallways, stairwells, lockers).
· Staff will control traffic flow in/out of the building and within the building.
· Students will not share school supplies.
· There will be daily cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned multiple times per day. The washroom will be cleaned after use.
· Hand sanitizer will be available upon entry of the Centre, before/after breaks, entry into a different room of the building.
· We have some plexiglass barriers that can be used for one on one teaching or peer mentoring.
· Parents will conduct a daily health check with students before sending them to the Centre.
Hurley also said,
“According to the Ministry of Education, people in a learning group do not need to stay two meters apart, but they must limit physical contact. At this point, we plan to run our regular schedule. Having said that, we will break the student population into smaller groups (mainly based on grade level) so we can designate where students are in the building at all times.
“ If someone feels ill while at the Centre, parents will be contacted immediately, and the student will be picked up by a family member. Public health protocols will be followed after the student leaves the Centre. All necessary communication to families regarding possible or confirmed cases at the Centre will be directed by our Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
“ If a student or a member of their household is ill, we ask the student to work from home until confirmed Covid-free.”
For parents of students attending Rossland Summit School (RSS) or J.L. Crowe, here’s information from a School District 20 letter, from Superintendent Bill Ford to parents, dated August 28:
“We believe, with the information our medical professionals have gathered about the virus since the spring, and the health and safety guidelines that are being implemented, our schools are a safe place for students and staff.
“The following provides information to families about educational options for their child/ren. Please note there is no expectation for Districts to replicate the model of learning from last June, which had some students at home and some students at school for in-class instruction, all managed by one teacher.
• Families can choose to send their child/ren back to school for full-time, in-class instruction beginning Sept.14th (after the orientation sessions on Sept. 10th and 11th).
• A family may decide they would like their child/ren to gradually return to school, for example working up to full time attendance over four weeks. The family should contact their school to discuss this with the Principal or Vice-Principal.
• Families choosing to not have their child/ren return to school have the following options regarding the provision of an educational program:
· distance/distributed/remote learning (curricular offerings, free to BC residents, can be found at learnnowbc). Families will register their child with a distance learning program provider.
· homeschooling, where the child remains registered with the District as a homeschooler and the family assumes responsibility for designing the educational program for their child based on BC curriculum (information regarding home schooling can be found at HomeSchoolBC.) Families should notify their school to let them know of their decision to home school. The school will enter your child as ‘homeschoolers’ in our student information system. All homeschooled students must be registered with a school district or independent school as per legislation.
• The District will work with families who have children who have been diagnosed by a medical health provider, such as immunocompromised, to determine the best model for education program delivery. Further information regarding immunocompromised children can be found here: Guidance for Families of Immunocompromised Children in School and Group Gatherings and Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Children with Immune Suppression.”
School District 20 has links on its website to a series of earlier information bulletins sent to parents; those can be accessed at https://www.sd20.bc.ca/covid192/
It sounds as if families are free to choose the option that suits them best: going to school, or -- for those not convinced that school protocols are adequate for the safety of their children or other family members -- the home-schooling or distance learning options.
Here’s wishing all families a safe and healthy school-year, whichever learning system they choose.