With spring break coming to a close, the Sooke School District says families should not plan on dropping children off at school next week, but learning opportunities will continue in a reduced and different manner.
Under the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, all schools in B.C. are closed to in-class instruction in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A March 27 letter to families from SD62 superintendent Scott Stinson highlights four priorities from the Ministry of Education.
Those priorities for school districts are to maintain a healthy and safe environment for students, families and employees; provide services to support children of essential workers, support vulnerable students who may need special assistance and provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.
Stinson says most SD62 staff will be working remotely from home as the district awaits further direction from health officials.
“This will mean that schools will only be available to the public through pre-arranged appointments with the school principal or vice-principal,” the letter says. “Signs will be located on all school main entrances indicating the best phone number or e-mail address to contact school officials.”
Limiting access to the schools will allow the district to ensure they remain clean and disinfected for the safety of staff that will be working on site, the letter says.
Teachers and staff will use the week of March 30 to April 3 as a planning week. They will begin to provide learning opportunities “as soon as practical and no later than mid-April in keeping with the Minister of Education’s directions.”
“During this time, you can expect your classroom teachers to reach out to you to check in and assess the ability of families to connect online for learning,” the letter says.
“This will take us some time to organize and fine tune, so we ask for your continued patience with us as we slowly get this up and running.”
The letter also says there is “no intent” to replicate a regular school day online for all students. Instead, teachers will provide essential learning and opportunities for teachers to connect directly with students. Links to resources will also be provided on the SD62 website for families looking to supplement their children’s learning.
Families of essential service providers will also be supported by SD62 and teachers will ask about this as well as direct families to an online portal to register for services.
Grade 12 students wondering about scholarships, graduation and post-secondary transition will receive information in the coming days, according to the letter.
Parents are encouraged to visit the district website at sd62.bc.ca for the latest updates related to the COVID-19 response.
“Please take this time to follow the advice of health professionals, particularly Dr. Bonnie Henry, by maintaining physical distancing, observing proper health etiquette and staying home as much as possible,” the letter reads. “It is important that while we distance ourselves physically we still maintain social contact … let’s all look out for one another.”