Students have been back in their desks at School District 82 for one week, after months of distance learning.
“There are children in schools and there are teachers and support staff with them and to me that makes it great. Are there hiccups? For sure, but we are working them out and we’ll keep doing the work and perfect it as much as possible,” said School District 82 superintendent Janet Meyer.
As part of stage three of B.C.’s return to schools, Monday, June 1, saw 395 students in class district-wide which is just under 10 per cent of total enrolment. It was the first day of optional in-person classes since schools were closed in mid-March due to COVID-19.
According to the Ministry of Education, around 60,000 students attended in-person province-wide on Monday.
There was an increase June 2 in School District 82, with 424 students attending in-person. June 3 was a planned virtual day by many schools and attendance on June 4 totalled 328, or eight per cent. The June 5 total has not been released yet.
While some students might be back in class, in-person learning looks a lot different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools have implemented strict safety measures like keeping desks spaced apart, regular cleaning of surfaces and staggered drop offs, breaks and days of virtual instruction.
Kindergarten to grade five students attend on an alternating or half-time schedule and are limited to 50 per cent of a school’s capacity. Grade six to 12 students are limited to in-person class one day a week at no more than 20 per cent capacity.
Meyer said that schools in the district were given the autonomy to tailor schedules to best suit their communities.
The province’s goal is to have full time instruction when next school year starts. Meyer thinks the current situation is helpful to gain feedback and improve should School District 82 have to deliver education in a similar manner in the fall.
“I think it’s going to put us in a better position as we head into September,” she said. “Where we start in September is unknown at this time, and in all likelihood we won’t know until about August 20th. So we will be preparing scenarios.”