SD 67 looking at virtual classrooms, teachers investigating

SD67 pondering next steps

School District 67 is pondering its next steps ahead of Monday, March 30, the day students were supposed to return to their classrooms but won't be due to a province-wide public school shutdown. 

“The number one priority is maintaining a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees. That’s really been our focus,” said acting superintendent Todd Manuel.

“Next week, we’re asking our administrators, teachers and EAs to start working from that lens, to start collaborating through virtual tools and at a distance, and to start putting plans together that they can then respond back to families and students with the following week.”

The COVID-19 crisis is set to have its first real impact on the school system. Until this point, students in BC have spent the past two weeks on their regularly scheduled spring break. 

“Over the next week, our focus is going to be reaching out to all those students and families, and checking in from a sense of wellness and well being, then go from there,” confirmed Manuel.

Students won't be returning, but some staff may be.

“It will be a mix. We’re saying that, whenever we can support people to work at a distance, we’re going to do that to meet the mandates of the provincial health officer,” explained Manuel.

“If people are going to need to be on site, to pick up laptops, to pick up work, we'll also need a way of supporting that as well, but also within the social distancing mandates of not having large groups in buildings. Our administrators have a tall task around supporting that, and are working now to organize schedules that will support that.”

Manuel understands the school district has to show parents its virtual teaching model can be effective.

“We totally understand the anxiety that’s out there. We all share it. Number one is that worry of safety that we all have to have a lens on with these plans. At the same time, we also know we can’t have the same learning experiences that we normally would. It’s going to take some time for us to build those plans and we appreciate people’s patience as we start to build them when we formally return from spring break,” Manuel said.

“I know our teachers are going to have that touch point with students in communicating with families around what that should look like. And families should be reassured that students are going to move forward. They’re going to go to the next level — to make learning as meaningful as it can be from a home environment.”

Manuel expects schools will stay closed to students for the foreseeable future.

"We've been told that K-12 schools are suspended, in terms of in-classroom instruction, indefinitely,” said Manuel. “We’re planning for the longer term on this. We’ll be going week-to-week and building those resources for students and families.”

Manuel is adamant a great deal of thought has been put into the future of those students in their graduating year.

“The direction from the Ministry of Education is that all students on track to graduate will graduate this year. More information to come on that. We certainly know the level of anxiety is most heightened for those students in Grade 12," said Manuel. 

"We also know there’s a ton of questions. What does this mean for prom? What does this mean for all of the activities that celebrate 13 years in education? We’ll respond as we move forward. We already have our administrators looking into that and reaching out to Ministry officials."

You can read Todd Manuel's letter to parents, students and family members by clicking here.

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