Classes will look different at Stanley Humphries Secondary School this year. Photo: John Boivin

SD20 releases back-to-school plan

Superintendent: We are doing everything we need to do to ensure the safety of our students and staff

Kootenay Columbia School District #20 (SD20) has announced its overall back to school plan, but site specific plans will not be available until Sept. 4.

The district’s plan was published in an 11 page document available on the district’s webpage.

SD20 superintendent Bill Ford says developing the plan has been an involved process, and it’s not quite finished yet.

First, the province developed a set of guidelines they gave the districts. The districts then had about nine days to take those plans down to the regional level and then send them back to the province for approval.

The final step now is for principals, vice principals and district health and safety managers, to take that plan down to an operational level for each individual school site.

That means they will make decisions about how to apply the plan — such as how traffic flow is managed, how classrooms and other areas should be configured, which classes fit together, to create learning groups, etc.

“We are doing everything we can do, given the parameters we are given,” Ford told the Castlegar News.

“But it’s tough on families, it’s tough on staff.”

Ford says some aspects of the plan may evolve as staff sees what works and what doesn’t.

Right now, SD20 students have three options: return to in-class instruction in the public schools; enroll in a distance learning program through an independent school or another school district; or homeschool.

“Those are the three options we have always had,” said Ford.

“I know some people are looking for a hybrid model or remote learning like we had in the spring. But those are not elements that we can provide.”

Ford says the district is not set up for remote learning and doesn’t have the human resources to offer distance learning programs.

“We are doing everything we need to do to ensure the safety of our students and staff — that is our number one priority,” said Ford.

RELATED: Protest against in-person only option for school planned for Castlegar

The plan lays out health, safety, cleaning, physical distancing, hygiene, personal protective equipment, illness, ventilation, transportation and learning group strategies.

Learning groups at elementary schools:

• learning groups up to 60, including staff

• classes within group may come together for learning opportunities

• staggered student breaks

• play fields may be segmented

• lunches eaten in classrooms or learning group spaces

Learning groups at secondary schools:

• New quarterly timetable

• two instructional blocks separated by a lunch break.

• two courses will be delivered over 10 weeks

• each grade will be organized into two learning groups

• if a class has students from more than one learning group, physical distancing strategies will be in place. If physical distancing cannot be maintained, then masks will be worn by staff and students.

• minimal changes to curricular offerings are anticipated.

• lunches eaten in classrooms or in designated learning group locations

• Students that leave the school grounds during class time will sign in and sign out, and will be reminded and encouraged to only interact with those in their learning group.

• Kootenay Columbia Secondary School (75 student enrollment) will operate as single learning group. No changes to curricular offerings or schedules

Cleaning and disinfecting:

• additional personnel hired

• no school space rentals

• general cleaning/disinfecting every 24 hours

• high touch surface cleaning twice in 24 hours

• items not easily cleaned will be limited or removed

• shared equipment limited use, cleaned daily

• garbage emptied daily

Physical distancing:

• visual clues (posters, floor markers) posted

• washroom occupancy limits

• Some washroom sinks closed to support distancing

• staff not part of a student learning group will practice physical distancing and will be encouraged to

wear a mask

• when maintaining physical distancing is not possible, staff will wear a mask

• altered classroom configurations

• lunches organized by learning group

• outside breaks encouraged

Hand hygiene:

• classrooms without sinks will have hand sanitizer

• student hands washed/sanitized upon arrival and before departure, transitions within the school, after using washroom, after sneezing or coughing

Personal protective equipment:

• reusable masks offered for students/staff

• staff face shields available

• high school students must wear masks when moving around common spaces, on school buses, when around students outside of their learning group and when distancing measures cannot be observed

• staff wear masks when working with students not in learning group, in hallways and if distancing measures cannot be observed

• Plexiglas barriers installed where appropriate

• medical evidence may be required if staff/students indicate they “do not tolerate” wearing masks

Illness:

• students/staff including children of essential workers must self isolate for 14 days after travel outside Canada, after close contact with confirmed COVID-19 case or if they have symptoms of COVID-19

• students/staff must seek medical assessment for cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms

• staff must asses themselves daily

• parents/care givers must assess their children daily and keep them home if they have any symptoms

Ventilation:

• sites encouraged to open windows

• HVAC systems set to increase fresh air intake and have filters installed

• air exchange and HEPA filters installed in portable classrooms

Buses:

• assigned seating based on school, family and learning groups

• high school students must wear masks

• elementary students provided with masks if requested

• bus pass system for record keeping

• bus drivers will wear masks

• hands washed or sanitized before and after rides

• windows open when possible

• families encouraged to avoid using the bus if possible

• physical distancing during waiting and loading

• school buses disinfected after each run and cleaned every 24 hours

Staff:

• itinerant staff may be assigned to schools rather than working across the district

• education assistants will be assigned to learning groups where possible

• if it is not possible to maintain physical distancing, EAs will wear masks

• student support teachers/learning assistance teachers will be assigned to classrooms where possible

• any staff not assigned to a learning group will follow physical distancing strategies and will be encouraged to wear a mask

The plan also lays out what will happen if a child exhibits symptoms while at school including placing the child in an isolation room, and diligent hand sanitizing and cleaning procedures.

Questions about the plan may be sent to the district’s dedicated COVID-19 email address covid19@sd20.bc.ca.



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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