Students choosing to return to school next week might notice a few differences in hallways and classrooms. Those changes are part of the Revelstoke Board of Education’s 2020 Restart Plan. The plan outlines the structure of school days for students, and addresses health and safety concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis for the entire school community.
Revelstoke Board of Education chair Bill MacFarlane said the plan will allow staff to focus on making positive connections with students in a safe and healthy environment when in-class learning resumes on June 1, noting “the Board is very proud of the work our teaching and support staff have done to provide continuity of learning to students and their families through a variety of creative, online and remote methods since the suspension of in-class instruction after spring break.”
Revelstoke Board of Education trustees approved the district’s 2020 Restart Plan during a special board meeting held on Tuesday, May 26. Revelstoke’s Restart Plan is part of the larger provincial restart plan under the direction of both the Provincial Health Office and the Ministries of Health and Education. Trustee Alan Chell said he is pleased that school staff have worked together to come up with a plan that works for Revelstoke.
“The one message I would want to give to our teachers and support staff is we know there is going to be some messy parts, it’s going to be a trial. I’m hoping staff will be able to have fun and reconnect with students. The main thing is we want teachers to do what they do best and that’s to provide the great learning environment they do for students,” said Chell.
Here’s a look at some of the changes the district is implementing as part of the 2020 Restart Plan:
Configuration of classroom learning environments
Revelstoke School District superintendent Mike Hooker said staff and students will maintain physical distancing as much as possible, but stated there may be times when students could be within a few meters of one another due to the activities taking place. For example, elementary school students may be in close proximity to one another in line-ups or while playing games, but would be encouraged to avoid physical contact such as no longer holding hands. Hooker said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has acknowledged this, saying it is OK and still safe.
“Staff have worked really hard so the experience when students come back to school is not fear-based, but education based and fun,” said Hooker.
In order to ensure physical distancing, students choosing to return to classes will do so on an alternating schedule. Information on alternating attendance for students was relayed to parents last week.
School meal program
School meal programs will continue, but with some changes. Hooker said this may include having food already bagged so students are still able to access meals in a safe manner.
Health and safety concerns
During Tuesday’s board meeting, trustee Garry Pendergast asked about safety signage on school entries. Secretary treasurer Bruce Tisdale said all schools will have the same signs so parents and staff receive the same message.
“The most prolific message is about hand washing, because that is the top rated prevention,” said Tisdale.
A statement released by the district on May 26 stated while “there will be limited access to the building, parents are encouraged to exercise and model physical distancing while coming and going from the school grounds and throughout the community.”
Answers to frequently asked questions about health and safety around COVID-19 in Revelstoke schools is available on the School District’s website. Hooker said health and safety plans are working documents, and anticipates these will continue to be updated.
While larger districts, including Vernon and the Central Okanagan, have opted to suspend bus service for the remainder of the school year, Revelstoke is hoping to maintain some level of busing. Hooker said there are challenges and complications including requirements set out by Transportation Canada.
The district is currently reaching out to families to determine which students require busing in order to return to classes. Hooker said the primary focus is providing bus service for students in Kindergarten through Grade Five.
Classroom attendance remains optional
Currently, students have the option of returning to classes or continuing with on-line learning. Hooker said staff will track how many students are coming to school, but will not take attendance in the traditional manner.
“This is an evolving situation and parents may make a decision the night before, or the morning of, if their children will attend and we will respect that,” said Hooker. “We are going to be as flexible as we possibly can right now.”
More information and updates on the Revelstoke School District’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.