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SD57 cancels in-person Kelly Road name change consultations due to COVID-19 concerns

B.C.’s requirement amid pandemic leads to decision, online engagement remains in place
kelly road 1
The new Kelly Road Secondary School building under construction. (via School District No. 57)

On Thursday (March 12), the B.C.’s chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix made the requirement for events with gatherings of more than 250 people to be cancelled.

This is due to the escalating risk of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic around the world, but despite no confirmed cases in northern B.C. at this time, School District 57 (SD57) is following suit in connection to a hot topic of the last two months.

A day after announcing its plans to host several means of public consultation sessions on the potential name change to the new Kelly Road Secondary School (KRSS), the district says its cancelling the four in-person sessions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission should anything happen between now and the end of Spring Break in Prince George.

In a release this afternoon (March 13), SD57 says its online avenues for engagement will remain open until the April 17 deadline, with a questionnaire set to go public on March 20.

“We believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to support the Provincial Health Officer’s strategy of social distancing, and prioritizing the health and well-being of our students, staff and public,” said Board Chair Tim Bennett in the statement.

“Our commitment to public engagement – while it may look different than what we originally proposed and released yesterday – is still a priority.”

However, student engagement sessions will still take place.

All other consultations will now be in the form of the questionnaire and online and paper submissions.

Bennett says, ultimately, the board will make the final decision regarding the naming of the new school building, under construction on a site adjacent to the current Kelly Road Secondary School, on April 28.

“To ensure we are not delaying the opening of the building in September and to ensure we can continue on our timelines we need to ensure a decision is made in the relatively near future.”

This proposed change comes as a result of the Board approving a motion at its Regular Public Meeting on Feb. 25, 2020 to engage in a process to rename Kelly Road Secondary School.

The name on the table by request of Lheidli T'enneh Elders is Shas ti Secondary School, which is the Dakelh word for 'grizzly bear trail.'

- with files from Hanna Petersen, PrinceGeorgeMatters