Kimberley’s students should have headed back to school after spring break this week, but these are far from normal times. Students are remaining home, while School Districts and the Ministry of Education plan how things will roll out over the coming months.
School District 6 Superintendent Paul Carriere sent home a communication to parents late last week, outlining the district’s planned response to the pandemic, which is guided by the Ministry of Education.
“Our decision making is aligned with 4 key priorities, which have been communicated to us by the Ministry of Education:
1 Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students and families and all employees
2 Provide services to support children of essential services workers
3 Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance
4 Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students
Carrier said in the letter.
“We remain concerned for the health and safety of our students and their families as well as our staff, and have been keeping that in focus as we plan forward. We will be providing specific training for our staff about limiting exposure to the virus, and we have enhanced our cleaning protocols to support this. In the meantime, we continue to communicate the need for all of us to wash hands frequently, to practice appropriate coughing and sneezing etiquette, to practice physical distancing, and to ensure that we stay home when we have any symptoms of illness. You will likely have noticed that school playgrounds have been closed. This has been done in alignment with the closure of public playgrounds that are maintained by the municipalities within our school district, and is a response to the need for physical distancing to reduce transmission of the virus.
“We have been asked to provide services to essential services workers and to keep the needs of our vulnerable students in mind. Over the coming week we will be collecting information from families so that we can determine the needs for services and to plan for them. Additionally, we have been asked to provide for continuity of learning for our students. This means that our school district staff will be figuring out how we will change what we have been traditionally doing and shape it into distance learning formats that look and feel significantly different for teachers and support staff, parents and students. It is clear to us that access to technology will be important for families as we navigate this new landscape.”
In order for the District to gather information from parents about this, and also about which parents are essential service workers, parents were emailed a survey.
“The Ministry of Education has advised us to take the time that is needed to plan appropriately for this new reality. Our school-based staff members will be working together on this over the week of March 30 to April 3. It is our hope to begin phasing in services to families the week of April 6-10.”
Parents were also sent a copy of a letter from the Minister of Education, Rob Fleming.
In the letter, Fleming reminded parents that while in-class instruction is suspended, the school system is not closed.
Every student will receive a final mark this year, and all students on track to advance grade in the fall will do so. Students due to graduate this year will graduate, he said.