P.G. schools opening this week to provide care sites

Schools in the Prince George school district remain closed to students but some students will be returning to school buildings this week.

The schools will be used to provide in-person care sites for five-12-year-old children of front-line health care workers and other essential service staff who are working at their jobs and can't be home to supervise their children.

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The COVID-19 crisis forced the province to close schools on March 16, during the first week of spring break, leaving parents who have essential-service jobs scrambling to find alternate care for their children.

"Starting next Wednesday we'll start having some students on site for school care for our front-line health-care workers, so we're excited to be able to support that really vital work in our community by providing care for their children in the day," said School District 57 superintendent Anita Richardson, in a recorded video sent to parents on Friday.

Also on Wednesday, the district is restarting its meal programs in schools which provides breakfast and lunch for some students.

Schools this week will be contacting students to set up a time for them to pick up their personal belongings and school supplies they left behind before the break. While Richardson did not go into any detail how that will be accomplished, in other school jurisdictions, the pickup times have been spread out over several days allowing groups of students to come by at different times depending on the first initial of their last names. She said students and/or parents can expect calls from their school early next week to set up those appointments.

“As we’re organizing and planning the strategy around having families and students pick up their belongings, we are following the guidelines established by the provincial health officer,” said Richardson.

“For large schools that may mean it could take up to a couple of weeks to make sure everyone safely retrieves their items from schools.”

Teachers spent the first five days back from the break this past week phoning each of their students and creating email contacts which they will use to deliver their lessons.

“I know in my household my children were really relieved to re-connect with their teachers and I really felt the teachers were excited to be reconnecting with their students as well,” said Richardson.

“Teachers are working on re-establishing those relationships and connections and they will continue to build the continuity of learning plan next week, basing those on the guidelines we’ve received from the Ministry of Education. You will continue to hear plans unfold, as will your children with your teacher, over time.”

Learning plans and the method of delivery used to teach the course material will be left up to each teacher and will vary according to the age of the students, subject matter and whether each student has access to a computer.

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