Parents will know exactly what students in the Quesnel School District will need to do to limit the spread of COVID-19 on Aug. 26.
That’s when the district will share their return plans with the public. Superintendent Sue-Ellen Miller said the district will need to submit their plan for provincial approval on Aug. 21.
Miller said the plan is for students to be put into cohorts. Elementary school students will be in groups of 60, and older students will be organized in groups of 120.
“It’s no different from trying to ‘bubble’ people,” Miller said. “If you’re working in a group or a bubble, you don’t have to physical distance in that bubble.”
The district is expecting more students and teachers to remain at home if they have COVID-19 symptoms. That could put stress on an already strung out on-call (substitute) teachers system.
“It’s been problematic in B.C. for the past couple of years, there has been a teacher shortage,” Miller said. “We are always recruiting and trying to have teachers on our sub list. We’re working hard on that.”
Teachers will return to school on Sept. 8, for COVID-19 training, with students arriving two days later for their own orientation.
Miller said families should do a daily health check to ensure children sent to school are healthy, and if symptoms develop during the school day, the student will be isolated and their parents called.
It’s one of many lessons the district learned when students returned in a limited capacity in June.
“In this province we had over 200,000 kids in school in June, and there were no outbreaks,” Miller said. “We have already put those measures in place for what we’ll do if a child shows symptoms.”
There are still key issues to work out by the district, including what school bus schedules will look like, but it will integrate with the cohort plans.
Miller said the district is encouraging as many students as possible to find their own transportation to school.
“We haven’t actually figured it all out,” she said. “Kids in grade 8-12, if they are not sitting with someone from their cohort, or their sibling, should wear a non-medical mask.”
Younger students will not be required to wear a mask, but will be sat with members of their own cohort or family if possible.
Dave Chapman is the Quesnel School Board chair. He said health and safety of students and staff is the number one priority of the board.
“It’s important for students to be in school for their well-being, achievement and social interaction” Chapman said. “We look forward to welcoming students back to school in September.”
Miller added any rules or plans could change as the pandemic develops in B.C.
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