Kamloops-Thompson School district finalizing its return to school plan

The Sept. 8 start date will be delayed to an as-yet specified date to allow school staff to properly implement pandemic-related safety guidelines. Education Minister Rob Fleming said there will likely be a staggered, gradual start to the school year.

The Kamloops-Thompson school district will have its return to school plan ready for the public eye weeks before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

(The Sept. 8 start date will be delayed to an as-yet specified date to allow school staff to properly implement pandemic-related safety guidelines. Education Minister Rob Fleming said there will likely be a staggered, gradual start to the school year.)

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Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the province is reintroducing K-12 students to full-time in-class instruction across B.C. in segregated learning groups — 60 for elementary and middle schools and 120 for secondary schools.

School district staff are now in the midst of developing the education re-start plan within that model, outlining how schools are to be organized and the health and safety measures to be put in place to minimize the transmission of the novel coronavirus. 

According to a school district press release, the plan is being finalized this week and will be shared with partner groups for consultation and feedback.

The restart plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the Kamloops-Thompson board of education on Aug. 19, then submitted to the Ministry of Education by Aug. 21.

On Aug. 26, the school district will share the plan with parents, staff and the broader community.

The school district has a frequently asked questions page on its website (sd73.bc.ca) to address concerns from students, staff and families. Updates will be posted as details are clarified leading up to the final plan’s reveal on Aug. 26.

SD73 details to date

Answers included on the page so far include that the beginning and end to school days will return to their normal times, class sizes will return to normal and all students will be permitted to attend on a daily basis.

The school district will follow the direction of the health authority in contact tracing and informing parents if a student or adult falls ill while in the school.

Families will be asked to review the COVID-19 health screening questions on a daily basis — a copy of which will be provided to each family.

If a student exhibits symptoms, the pupil will need to remain at home until they are symptom-free.

A student who misses school due to illness will have his or her teacher(s) provide a home-based program for the duration of the illness. If the illness is lengthy, an alternative delivery, such as on-line learning, may be arranged.

For students, staff and teachers, the use of masks will be a personal choice, but anyone coming into a learning cohort from outside will need wear one unless they can maintain physical distancing.

Substitute teachers and other itinerant staff will be required to physical distance and/or wear a mask where appropriate when physical distancing is not possible.

Schools will not be providing before-school or after-school care, but they are working on cohort plans that take into consideration district program choice options, such as French immersion, Montessori, international baccalaureate, digital arts and technology academy, trades samplers, hairstylist programs and academies.

Students will be informed of any changes to their individual program options in September.

Parents who do not want to send their children to school, or who have immune-compromised children, can access distance-learning options, but those options will not be provided by the regular classroom teacher.

Parents who choose that route should contact their school principal by Aug. 31.

“We are committed to working with each family who requires additional information to make an informed decision about sending their child back to school this fall,” Supt. Alison Sidow said.

The district developed its own deep cleaning and safety protocols for the partial return to school in June and has added 17 daytime custodians to its roster to ensure surface cleaning is done routinely throughout the day.

Those measures are being updated to reflect the government’s new guidelines for September. 

The school district website has posted a FAQ to its parents’ resources page.

The FAQ will be updated regularly. Questions can be emailed to returntoschoolFAQ@sd73.bc.ca.

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