Kamloops-Thompson school district to ditch semester system as part of pandemic planning

The quarter system, or Copernican system, will be used. Students will be enrolled in two classes a day for 10 weeks for four quarters.

The Kamloops-Thompson school district’s restart plan amid the pandemic is now posted in its website at sd73.bc.ca.

Of note is this piece of information with respect to how the semester system will be replaced by the quarter system:

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“To support the implementation of learning groups at secondary schools, the quarter system, or Copernican system, will be used. Students will be enrolled in two classes a day for 10 weeks for four quarters. Schools will have the flexibility to offer off-time table courses and variations to the quarter system to meet individual program needs, such as for International Baccalaureate, secondary students at Kamloops School of the Arts and the Trades and Transitions programs. The quarter system will allow for fewer transitions, staggered breaks and facilitates learning group timetabling to meet the health and safety requirements.”

Given the cohort model, secondary schools won’t be able to offer the linear system as students would have contacts with more than 120 students, while the two-semester system would limit the number of courses under COVID-19 protocols.

Brocklehurst Middle School, however, will maintain a linear schedule with three terms.

In addition, all inter-school events including competitions, tournaments and festivals will not take place.

Parents and guardians will learn the specifics of schedules for students of each school from their principals beginning Sept.1.

School resumes on Sept. 8, though students will not return until Sept. 10. The first week will consist of orientation to the new protocols, when students will be assigned to their class, find out who is in their learning group and practise health protocols and new routines for moving to and from the class to outdoor and common areas., In-class teaching is set to begin on Sept. 14.

About 75 plans for independent schools will be made public on Aug. 31 as the education ministry continues to review those documents.

During a provincial press conference on Wednesday, some school districts revealed details of how they will implement the four-semester system, with examples such as Surrey’s mix of online and in-person classes for its grades 10 to 12 program, which will be segregated from the grades 8 and 9 cohort.

According to the Kamloops-Thompson school district, some of its larger secondary schools may need to supplement in-class instruction with online, self-directed or remote learning where course offerings cannot be delivered through learning groups or physical distancing as cohorts are limited to no more than 120 students and staff.

“Each school is currently working to structure learning group cohorts that will best meet the needs of the majority of students while adhering to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education and the health authority,” stated a frequently asked question section on the school district website, at sd73.bc.,ca. “Specific school information about learning groups will be available from the school principal after Aug. 31.”

Distancing key to cohort intermingling

Under the Kamloops-Thompson school district plan, students are to stay in their learning groups for recess, lunch and other breaks.

To reduce contact with children in other learning groups, students may be assigned segregated areas for recess and lunch and use separate entrances and exits if they cannot maintain physical distancing at their school. Breaks and lunches may also be staggered so fewer students are in areas at the same time.

Students won’t need to maintain distance within a cohort and can socialize with peers in different learning groups if they are outdoors and can minimize physical contact or if they are indoors and can maintain physical distancing.

Siblings will not be restricted to the same learning groups.

In situations where physical distancing cannot occur outside of cohorts, masks must be worn, according to the local district’s restart plan. 

At the elementary level, students will still be separated by classrooms, but could interact within their learning group of up to 60 students that could consist of two classes that work together on shared projects or up to three primary classes that go outside together on a regular basis.

Elementary students are being organized in learning groups of 60, while secondary students are in groups of 120, based on the fact it is harder for younger students to maintain physical distancing. Brock Middle School students will be in learning groups of 90.

The incorporation of substitute teachers and education assistants into classrooms is still being discussed, according to the district.

Inter-school activities a no-go under COVID

All inter-school events, including competitions, tournaments and festivals, will not be allowed under the return plan, but extracurricular activities including sports, arts and special interest clubs can occur if physical distancing can be maintained between members of different learning groups or if reduced contact is practiced by those within the same learning group.

Small gatherings, assemblies and concerts will only be allowed within a learning group, but larger gatherings, such as guest speakers, should only happen virtually.

Sports can be played within cohorts. If students from multiple cohorts are together, physical distancing must be maintained. There will be no sporting events between schools.

Mask use and physical distancing

Each student will receive two reusable masks and disposable masks will be available on an as-needed basis.

Masks will be required for staff, middle and secondary students in high traffic areas, such as buses and in common areas like hallways or when outside of their learning group and physical distancing cannot be maintained. Exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons. Students can also wear a mask if they have anxiety about not wearing one.

When it comes to maintaining physical distancing, Kamloops-Thompson schools are being recommended to take “spread out and stagger” approaches, which involve increasing spacing between students in classrooms, adding time outdoors for students, encouraging individual activities and reconfiguring desk and table formations.

Visitors to schools will also be restricted as members of the public are currently not allowed to entering district buildings unless approved by the site administrator.

Given the overcapacity of Valleyview secondary — where a $34-million expansion is underway — two more portables have been added to the school.

Portables in the district are having hand sanitizing dispensers installed and each portable has its own individual HVAC system, which requires outdoor air (intake) to be brought into the classroom, as is the case in classrooms in the main buildings.

COVID-19 cases and protocols

If cases of COVID-19 spike in the fall, it will be up to the Ministry of Education and the provincial health authority to decide if there will be a return to online learning, as was the case in March.

The Kamloops-Thompson school district would then inform all families if changes are made to how students are taught.

As for screening sick children, this will be the responsibility of parents, who are expected to assess their kids daily for symptoms of the common cold, influenza or COVID-19. Schools will continuously remind staff and students to do this.

If a child is sick, they will be separated from the class and supervised, and a parent or guardian will be contacted to pick them up as soon as possible. If a student or staff member is confirmed to have COVID-19, public health will determine what actions to be taken, including with regards to communication of the case.

Cleaning regiments in schools will occur when staff and students are not in the immediate vicinity of the custodians and cleanings may occur during the day by teacher or support staff.  General cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces will be completed at least twice every 24 hours, including restrooms.

Parents of children with complex medical conditions, or underlying risk factors, are being directed to consult with their health-care provider to determine their child’s level of risk regarding a return to school. Options and support for students with underlying complex medical needs will continue.

School bus protocols

When it comes to riding the bus, students will be loaded from back to front and offloaded from front to back. If space is available, each student should have their own seat, unless sharing with a member of their household, and schools should assign seating where possible.

Alternative options

Those who wish to keep their children out of school this year have some alternatives to consider.

While the hybrid model of in-class instruction and remote learning that was offered in June will not be available this fall, parents have the option of sending children to in-class instruction or choosing online and distributed learning. They should contact their school principal after Aug. 31 to discuss program options.

Parents and guardians are asked to contact their children’s school prior to Sept. 10 if they do not plan to have their children attend.

Kindergarten students have a gradual entry for the first week, which consists of students arriving in smaller groups for a shorter duration. Kindergarten students will be required to attend for full days after that.

Parents of children new to the district are asked to register their children in person, at their school, two weeks before the start of school for secondary students and one week before school for elementary students.

The Kamloops-Thompson school district restart plan

Re Start Plan by ChristopherFoulds on Scribd

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