Despite anticipated challenges in student adjustment and continued measures against the fourth wave of COVID-19, the Saanich School District (SD63) is looking forward to the opportunity of a more normal school year.
SD63’s schools north of Royal Oak Drive are following the back-to-school recommendations made by B.C.’s centre for disease control three months ago, said superintendent Dave Eberwein. They include more robust cleaning expectations; plexiglass barriers in shared spaces such as libraries, computer labs and reception offices; and a general recommendation that staff and students stay home if sick.
Eberwein said school districts expect to learn if masking requirements are recommended by the Ministry of Health within the next two weeks. Vaccines, which are currently only available to those 12 and older – or Grade 6 and up – remain optional yet encouraged, he said.
Any community or school outbreaks will be met with a notification to the public from Island Health, and to affected families from the school district, he said.
“We’re looking forward to full-time, in-class learning in three weeks’ time,” Eberwein said. “I take every opportunity to thank our teachers and our support staff, administrators, students and parents for their flexibility. Over the past year and a half, (COVID measures in schools) have certainly been a challenge for everybody.”
The challenge could inverse as some SD63 students readjust to a regular classroom setting, Eberwein said. “We’ve ensured that staff are aware of who those students are and we can support them as necessary.”
The ache of fluctuating COVID models and recommendations meant a summer break more welcomed than most for SD63 staff. Since then, “there is an air of excitement, talking about learning more often than we have in the last 18 months.”
In the coming year, Eberwein said SD63 plans to revamp their website with more information useful to parents and students, as well as modifing the constructive language used in report cards from kindergarten to Grade 12. They also plan to build the capacity of their Indigenous education department and curriculum.
“Those types of conversations are very exciting and haven’t had the same robustness, if you will, over the last 18 months or so,” Eberwein said.
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