There will be no remote classes next week as the Kamloops-Thompson school district continues to build its plan to carry on educational instruction outside the classroom in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, the province announced all schools must suspend in-class instruction indefinitely due to the virus, but it doesn’t want the learning to stop, tasking school districts with devising plans for continuity of the school year following spring break, which ends on March 30 for most school districts, but on March 20 locally.
The school year in the Kamloops-Thompson district was set to resume next week, but students will get a bit of an extended spring break.
“Our goal is to have students connected to a teacher by March 30,” school district Supt. Alison Sidow told KTW.
She said the district continues to work on the logistics of its plan and will be meeting with school principals next week to share the details.
“Once our principals return on Monday, we will have more information to share with the public,” Sidow said, noting principals will need to have an opportunity to determine how the remote learning plan will work in their respective buildings.
“And then we will begin to bring staff back into the schools,” Sidow said, adding the district is looking at a gradual return of employees.
Teachers from primary to secondary grades will be relied on to determine the best way to connect with their students, but Sidow said some best practices will emerge.
“Most of our teachers use technology, so we will use all measures to us to connect with students,” she said.
Some options that could be considered are emailed assignments, online courses or classes via Skype or other video-conferencing technology. While it is believed most school buildings will remain open, it is not yet clear which teachers will teach from home or return to the classroom to instruct remotely.
The school district’s plan also involves using some schools for care of children of parents who are performing essential services, such as medical-health professionals, first responders and pharmacists, but it’s unclear how many buildings will be used for such a purpose.
“We’re still in the planning of that,” Sidow said, adding that details such as teacher to student ratios need to be calculated.
Cleaning protocols for schools and supports for students with special needs are also in development.
Sidow said it’s unlikely any other programming will take place, other than ensuring vulnerable students have access to nutrition programs, all students are connected with a teacher and Grade 12 students complete their graduation requirements.
Graduation ceremonies, however, are likely to be cancelled.
“Given that one can’t have any gatherings of 50 or more at this point in time, it’s hard to imagine that we will be in a position to run graduation ceremonies,” Sidow said.
In losing the next week of classes, Sidow said some of the mandated hours of instruction for a school year may be lost as a result of the ongoing crisis.