Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School. (Submitted photo)

Pre-existing woes might deepen after COVID-19 for remote Vancouver Island schools

Logistics, transportation and a broadened spectrum of vulnerable students are some of the challenges SD 84 schools will have to deal with

Post COVID-19, remote schools on Vancouver Island will have to deal with more than than just pandemic-imposed disruptions.

While pre-existing problems, especially with transportation, are going to intensify, schools will also have to deal with a broad spectrum of vulnerable students.

For SD 84 schools in Zeballos, Gold River, Kyuquot and Tahsis, challenges that existed before COVID-19 are going to be persistent even after the pandemic settles, said Lawrence Tarasoff, Superintendent of Schools & Secretary Treasurer.

In communities like Zeballos and Gold River, where 30-50 students use school buses, physical distancing and managing logistics is going to be a big challenge with limited vehicles.

An average round trip to school in these communities is between 30 minutes to an hour. In addition, spacing out children in the bus might add five to seven round trips unless more vehicles are arranged.

“It’s going to be extremely time consuming, leaving students with lesser classroom time.”

Each school in SD 84 has its own challenge.

“Zeballos has only one bus driver for 46 students,” said Tarasoff. That coupled with a lack of a gas station in Zeballos, is going to be a logistical hurdle when arranging multiple school trips.

To add to this, the pandemic has already strained the education system in these remote communities. With weak Internet connectivity and technological limitations, a “virtual classroom” has not been an ideal solution here.

“Families that have five or six students in one house, trying to get on different virtual classrooms with a weak bandwidth makes things awkward,” said Tarasoff.

Educators in these communities are moving way from technology to deal with these challenges. They maintain connection with students through phone calls, paper packages and also provide an option to come in to schools for half a day or for one-on-one consultations with their teachers.

Educators have also seen an increase in the number of students who struggle with learning during the lockdown.

“The spectrum of ‘vulnerable students’ has widened within these months,” said Tarasoff who witnessed that a lot of students were overwhelmed and anxious with the disconnect from normal school routines.

“It’s not just children with special needs that have been identified as vulnerable students during these past couple of months, but even the ones who do not show progress in their learning curves have been included in this category.”

Based on the educational requirements of these students, teachers have had to constantly modify their strategies to see what works best for these students.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Tarasoff.

According to provincial plans, schools will open slowly as per the five-stage plan. Currently in stage four where schools are open to children of essential workers and vulnerable students, there is still no clear picture about normal school activities resuming anytime soon.

The longer the COVID-19 imposed lockdown goes on for schools, there is also a danger of children forsaking formal education said Tarasoff.

Worried more about older students opting for this, Tarasoff said, “Once students get disconnected from schools, it is very difficult to get them back.”

READ ALSO: Tahsis students step out for socially distanced farm to school activities

CoronavirusEducationTransportation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Sidney neighbours host miniature Dinner en Rouge after COVID-19 cancellation

Group came together to celebrate Canada Day safely

Rapid bus system could increase frequency, reliability in Greater Victoria

BC Transit studies methods for improving major routes in Capital Region

It’s showtime: Victoria theatre reopens with new COVID-19 protocols

Capitol 6 theatre and SilverCity Victoria have reopened with limited seating

Victoria Police searching for missing teen

Arianna Mckenzie, 17, last seen July 2

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read