Students in School District 70 will only have two options for learning come September: at home or in class. There will be no long-term hybrid plan, says superintendent Greg Smyth.
The school district released its Stage 2 Restart Plan on Wednesday, along with a health and safety plan.
Under Stage 2, parents have the option of sending their children to school, homeschooling or signing up for Distributed Learning. In a letter sent to parents, Smyth encouraged parents to also look at SD70’s Choices DL program at Eighth Avenue Learning Centre as a local option.
In elementary school, learning groups will comprise individual classrooms; students will stay together for the day, including break and lunch times. Classes will also be scheduled as “cohorts” for playground time—either by class or grade, depending on the size of the area and needs of individual schools, Smyth said.
The B.C. government approved plans for all 60 school district to welcome students back in September.
For parents still not sure whether they want to send their children to school, the district has created a short-term, school-based alternative that blends online learning with some in-person support. Smyth stressed that this is not a long-term option—just a transitional option that will allow students to stay connected to their school while their parents make a decision.
Students will remain connected to their school of choice until Sept. 18; after that, there is no guarantee the school will hold a spot for them, he said. “This is because schools do not have the nimbleness to quickly, constantly change and reorganize should a parent want to have their child return to a regular classroom.”
The SD70 health and safety plan includes extensive COVID-19 safety measures and protocols that are being implemented in all schools, he added.
These include enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, additional hand sanitizing stations, floor/ceiling directional markers, physical barriers and, for secondary schools, the requirement for masks and physical distancing in high traffic areas like hallways and common gathering areas.
Both Alberni District Secondary (ADSS) and Ucluelet Secondary (USS) schools have reorganized under a quarter model, where in-class instruction will be reduced to two courses per term. Students’ morning classes will comprise their main learning group, and afternoon classes will be organized as closely as possible to these groups, Smyth explained in a letter sent to parents.
When students from different learning groups are forced to mix—such as in elective classes—there are different health and safety expectations, such as physical distancing, wearing masks, etc.
Secondary students can also choose self-paced learning options through school-based “Learning Commons” programs.
“To parents who remain unsure about the September restart, I strongly encourage you to contact your school principal to discuss any concerns before making a decision that may jeopardize your child classroom placement or limit your child’s in-class options,” Smyth said.
All schools will be scheduling student orientations on a staggered basis Sept. 10 and 11 in the district, he added.