School District 49 prepares for back to school

School District 49 superintendent Steve Dishkin, accounting assistant and payroll Pete Kovanda and human resources assistant, executive assistant and accounts payable Tanya Moren are part of the district team preparing for a return to school this fall during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Photo submitted
Students and staff at SAMs high school will be greeted with a fresh new look for the school year. (Tanya Moren photo)
Students attending schools within School District 49 will be reminded to keep their distance with school year. (Tanya Moren photo)

School District 49 superintendent Steve Dishkin and his staff have been working hard to prepare a safe, welcoming environment for students this fall in the Central Coast amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re trying to take advantage of living in a small, remote place,” Dishkin said Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Dishkin is confident they are as prepared as possible for a successful return to school going into the new school year, with the idea that flexibility is the key.

“The concrete plan is at the ministry but the dialogue is ongoing,” he said of working closely with First Nation communities, students, families and staff. “We’re not going to stop listening. We want to hear from everyone.”

Face masks will be a part of life on the buses and at the high school, Dishkin noted, as will extra handwashing and being prepared to stay home if sick.

He said the district is preparing to offer a transition model at the beginning of the year, with some school time and Google classroom time if needed, to reduce any initial anxiety students may have, with a goal of full-time return to class for everyone.

“The ultimate goal is to have every student at school. That is very important – that in-person learning.”

How the staff will offer the transition model has yet to be determined.

“My hope is people will feel safe and comfortable when they come to our schools.”

Below are some of the key points of the plans submitted by SD 49 and approved by the ministry:

WHAT STUDENTS CAN EXPECT AT SCHOOL

Additional custodians on-site to ensure high touch points twice a day and extra cleaning. This level of staffing allows for a custodian to be on site during school hours.

Floor markers for distancing and traffic flow direction signs will be put in all the SD49 District schools. Plexiglass installed at all reception desks, kitchens where social distancing is not possible in consultation with food providers.

Hand sanitizer wall dispensers, portable stands or pump sanitizer will be available at each district site. Hand hygiene training will be provided to staff and students by the public health nurse. Teachers will be providing ongoing educational hand washing training/support to students. Cloth and disposable masks will be provided to all students and staff who request them or when social distancing cannot be maintained outside of a cohort. Face shields and gloves are also available.

All staff and students will be required to do a daily health check using the example provided by BCCDC. If COVID-19 like symptoms occur while on site the person will leave the site as soon as practically possible. For students who are waiting for transportation a designated isolation room will be available. These labeled isolation areas will be equipped with a designated waste basket and tissue. School will maintain records of all incidences.

ON THE BUS

Students in Grade 5 – 12 will be required to wear a mask on the bus. Students will be assigned a seat to allow bus drivers to load from back to front and offload from front to back. Whenever possible students will share seats with members of their household or members of their cohort. Bus drivers will wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Bus drivers will wash their hands before and after completing trips. Hand sanitizer will be provided during trips.

OUTDOOR LEARNING

Efforts will be made to construct permanent and semi-permanent outdoor structures for outdoor learning spaces.

EXTRA TRAINING

The public health nurse will provide health and safety training to support staff between Sept. 1-4 and to teachers from Sept. 8-9. Trauma Informed Return to School training provided by Safer Schools Together will be delivered on Sept. 4, 2020 to support staff and to teachers on Sept. 8-9. Casual employees will be included in the health and safety training and on site building orientation when necessary.

SCHOOL

ENROLMENT

Shearwater Elementary – Estimated enrollment five to 10 students with four staff.

Students and staff are expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines allowing this school to operate as one learning group during both instructional and non-instructional time. No anticipated changes in curriculum, course access or scheduling.

Wuikinuxv Elementary – Estimated enrollment five to ten students with three staff.

Students and staff are expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines allowing this school to operate as one learning group during both instructional and non-instructional time. No anticipated changes in curriculum, course access or scheduling.

Bella Coola Elementary – Estimated enrollment 70 students and 26 staff.

Students and staff are expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines allowing this school to operate as two learning groups during both instructional and non-instructional time. Students and staff registered in the group childcare will be a part of one of the learning groups. No anticipated changes in curriculum or course access. Staggered recess and lunches are being considered but are not necessary.

Nusatsum Elementary – Estimated enrollment 60 students with a staff of 20. Operating capacity 200.

Students and staff are expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines allowing this school to operate as two learning groups during both instructional and non-instructional time. Students and staff registered in the group childcare will be a part of one of the learning groups. No anticipated changes in curriculum or course access.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie Secondary – Estimated enrollment 90 with a staff of 25. Operating capacity 200.

Students and staff are expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines allowing this school to operate as one learning group during both instructional and non-instructional time. No anticipated changes in curriculum, course access or scheduling.

In Outer Coast Elementary Schools, physical distancing strategies will be reinforced through education and modeling as well as all other H & S requirements.

At Bella Coola Elementary and Nusatsum Elementary, the workforce will be divided into learning groups and health and safety guideline adhered to. Staff working in multiple settings (LART, SLP, Librarian, CCW, HSC, Principal, etc.) will be assigned to one learning group and when scheduled or required to work with students not in their group, physical distancing and/or PPE will be required. During transition times, hallways and indoor spaces will have staggered use to limit the mixing of learning groups.

At Sir Alexander Mackenzie Secondary, physical distancing strategies will be reinforced through education and modeling as well as all other health and safety requirements.

ILLNESS AND COMMUNICATION

Upon notification from the Ministry of Education schools will adjust to the necessary stage(s).

For students requiring self-isolation or quarantine, home-school coordinators and/or principals will be working directly with families and teachers to ensure the appropriate learning opportunities are provided to students and families. Discussions around live feed classes will occur in early September which would allow students to virtually attend onsite classes via video conference.

Schools will have regular communication with all families. This will be done via telephone for the majority of families but email, social media, and home visits will also be used to ensure appropriate input from all families is heard.

SD 49 will continue to employ Home School Coordinators to assist in the communication with Indigenous students and their families. Child Care Workers will continue to monitor students for emotional needs and educate students and staff on available resources such as the clinical therapist. Continued dialogue with Heiltsuk, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations is expected in order to identify areas of growth.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Staff and students whom have traveled out of the school district will be strongly encouraged to don masks in school for 14 days. Masks will be provided in these instances.

Parent support systems will be further explored including educational, financial and social-emotional.

Additional funding for training in IT is to be established for teachers to promote digital learning when required.

School level PAC’s were provided the restart plan for review and meetings held the week of Aug. 17.

Monthly school based meetings will occur throughout the year and principals will continue to hear parents concerns through regular family communication.


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