Smithers Secondary grades 10-12 will follow a Hybrid model. (File photo)

School District 54’s back-to-school plan approved: Here’s what to expect

Hand hygiene, learning groups and screening, among the many new protocols to be implemented

School District 54’s back to school plan has been approved by the Ministry of Education and the school district has now updated their website with the plan along with health and safety guidelines.

On Aug. 26, Education Minister Rob Flemming announced the ministry’s approval for the back to school plans submitted by all of the 60 school districts in the province.

“We’ve had a chance to review each of these plans, and I’m impressed by the thoughtful, considerate and innovative local solutions that we see within those plans,” said Flemming adding that each school district’s plan would differ based on size, space, parental feedback and staff agreements.

The schools under School District 54 (SD 54) will group students under learning cohorts or groups as per the BC Centre for Disease Control guidelines. All the students at Houston Secondary and students belonging to grades 8-9 at Smithers Secondary will follow this cohort model. While all students will be expected to attend school every day to emphasize in-class instruction, the exception will be for Smithers Secondary grades 10-12, who will follow a hybrid model with half the class attending in-person instruction every day.

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Students will also be provided bus service with cleaning and hygiene protocols in place and assigned seating with seating as per cohorts or family groups. Students belonging to grades 5 through 12 will be expected to wear non-medical masks on the bus whenever possible. Additionally, students from Witset will also be eligible for bus transportation made possible through a dialogue between the district and the Kyah Wiget Education Society to support students from that community.

Students with special needs will be given priority for in-person instruction and those who are not able to attend school due to disability or COVID, will be given support through their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The school district also outlined their health and safety guidelines in the back to school plan, which include having additional handwashing stations, wearing non-medical masks for staff and students from grades 5-12 whenever possible within their cohorts or at places where social distancing is not possible and student-screening for symptoms upon arrival at school.

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Any students or staff members who show symptoms will be quarantined until they are able to leave.

As previously announced, teachers will be returning to schools on Sept. 8 for two days of orientation on health, safety and planning, before students return on Sept. 10 for a similar two-day orientation.

Superintendent Mike McDiarmid, in a letter to parents on Aug. 26, said, “As a parent, I do understand there is a wide variety of opinions about how schools should operate in this COVID environment. I believe that following the advice of our health care professionals is the right course of action.”

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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