School District 28 (Quesnel) administration office is located at 401 North Star Road in Quesnel. (File photo)

School District 28 (Quesnel) administration office is located at 401 North Star Road in Quesnel. (File photo)

Continuity of learning a key focus for Quesnel School District amid pandemic’s latest wave

“We’re basically preparing for anything,” says superintendent

January hasn’t been off to the start Dan Lowndes would have liked.

Several days after Lowndes started his new role as superintendent for the Quesnel School District classrooms remain relatively empty.

Most K-12 students across B.C. aren’t anticipated to return until Monday, Jan. 10, following provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order of a delayed return to school.

According to B.C.’s Minister of Education, the extra time will allow officials to better understand the impact of the Omicron variant on the education system and for schools to prepare for students returning to class with enhanced safety measures.

“Our goal is really to find ways to make sure we can still have kids learning regardless of what comes our way,” Lowndes said.

“We don’t know yet what will come with the variant if it enters our community and what the impact will be, so we want to make sure that we can preserve learning for students the best we can.”

While Lowndes said nothing surprises the Quesnel School District at this point, the announcement by Henry was not what they had in mind.

Read More: B.C. schools to have a staggered re-start in January; essential workers’ kids return first

Read More: B.C. schools essential, medical masks aren’t, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

He said many, if not all of us, were hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Unfortunately the pandemic keeps throwing us curveballs, and we need to just be prepared and approach those barriers, but again not something that we were expecting, although we also are learning to expect the unexpected.”

Schools currently remain open for children with special needs and children of essential workers.

Lowndes said they are working on a continuity of learning plan so that learning can continue in the event of a school closure.

Another piece is looking at ways to address potential staffing shortages such as bus drivers and maintaining services should staff fall ill.

“We’re working on all of those as we speak with the goal of this to provide the least possible disruption to students and families—that is the goal,” Lowndes said.

“We don’t anticipate closures, if they do occur, happening for long periods of time.”

While 2022 is not off to the start Lowndes had hoped for, he is happy with all the work and creative planning happening within the Quesnel School District by teachers, principals and staff.

Buses will be suspended Jan 6. and Jan 7. and are prepared to resume regular operating schedules Monday, Jan. 10.

Read More: Provinces to receive large shipments of rapid tests this month: prime minister


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