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Prince George school district to finalize plan for day-to-day in-class instruction

Adjusting may be needed to meet SD57’s health, safety needs
SD57 Superintendent Anita Richardson (right) sits at the Board of Education table during a meeting with the media. (via Hanna Petersen)

There may still be more questions than there are answers, but regardless, School District 57 (SD57) believes there are students wanting to come back to class for various reasons.

Today (May 15), the B.C. government and its Ministry of Education announced in-class instruction will begin on June 1 with restrictions and guidelines in place to maintain distancing and overall health as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

In Prince George’s district, representatives still don’t know what day-to-day operations will look like, but ensure the public that meetings are underway to figure out those details.

“We are meeting with our local teachers association and also with our district parent advisory council reps today as well,” said SD57 Superintendent Anita Richardson when asked by PrinceGeorgeMatters if a rotational shift may be on the table for both students and teachers until the end of the school year.

“Obviously, this wasn’t on the table prior to the announcement today to have those discussions in depth, but we’ll continue to make those plans. I think the ministry and the Premier has made it very clear today indicating that there would be some sort of rotational attendance [...] if their parents choose to send them, that was also made clear today that this was voluntary on the part of parents and guardians.”

In this morning’s announcement from Premier John Horgan, Education Minister Rob Fleming and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, it was said elementary students will likely be in classrooms two to three days a week at below 50 per cent, while middle- and high-school students will only be in class one day a week, below 20 per cent, to meet capacity restrictions.

Prince George residents took to social media with a majority appearing to make a decision to keep their children at home and wait until the new calendar year in September.

Richardson recognizes this is an optional plan, but also believes there will be some students who would want to come for extra help.

“They’re not in our buildings enough to receive those face-to-face services,” she explained.

“So, for some students, it’s even more important for them to come back to school. Schools are a very very safe, encouraging and supportive environment. So they’ll see more time on site than others, and for other students, they’re just struggling with Physics 12 perhaps and some face-to-face time with their physics teacher is really important to them. Depending on the school-site and the number of kids that are returning, maybe one student is there more frequently than another and that’s how we meet our density ratios.”

Teachers returned to their classrooms this past Monday (May 11), while education support staff have been working for a number of weeks in helping children of essential service workers and those that need extra assistance on a regular basis.

The influx of kids is expected to grow before the June 1 reopening as SD57 Board Chair Tim Bennett says students of teachers will be brought into schools next week.

In terms of the classes of 2020, Bennett says soon-to-be graduates may want to see familiar faces before journeying into post-secondary education and other endeavours.

“It could be a chance for them to reconnect, maybe say their goodbyes; you know, the district is working really hard with our schools to form and prepare the graduation ceremonies this year and maybe give them an opportunity to celebrate together as well.”

The last day of classes, according to the SD57 calendar is Thursday, June 25.

Nothing has been said at this point if summer schools will extend beyond that final date.