Highway 97 closure means stranded teachers have to stay in hotels
With the school term back in full swing, the Highway 97 closure between Peachland and Summerland has left some stranded teachers with no other choice than to take a taxi boat or to sleep at a hotel.
Kevin Kaardal, Superintendent of School District 23 told iNFOnews.ca that although students in his catchment have not been affected, 15 teachers have been impacted by the road closure.
Kaardal's school district encompasses Kelowna, Peachland, West Kelowna and Lake Country.
Despite the long alternative routes, some teachers are making the drive each day to work, Kaardal said, while others are being offered a water taxi from Summerland through to West Kelowna.
The school district is also offering to accommodate teachers in hotels for a few nights a week.
“We'll be very excited when it's safe to open that roadway again,” he said.
Superintendent of School District 67, Todd Manuel, told iNFOnews.ca that the road closure “certainly has been challenging for everybody in the community.”
Manuel's school district covers the regions of Penticton, Kaleden, Summerland and Naramata.
Manuel explained that the road closure has affected students that are a part of the hockey academy in the Okanagan Hockey Group. Those students, Manuel said, are being connected with alternate billet families until the road closure is opened.
Manuel also explained that the district has 30 staff living on the other side of the landslide in Peachland and West Kelowna, who are unable to make the long commute each day.
“We have been very concerned for them,” he said, “around how they can be at work and travel safely. So, the board has supported an emergency response plan and provided the option for those staff that are impacted to be at a hotel in town or to be supported with a small daily allowance if they’re staying with family or friends.”
This support will be extended into this week also, Manuel explained, as the board awaits further notice about the lifting of the road closure.
“We can acknowledge the challenge that [the road closure] creates for the community and for our staff and for those students too, as I mentioned, from our hockey programme that are impacted. We certainly want to make sure that they have the possible start up to the school year.”
Manuel said that the district will continue to monitor the situation and offer support where it can. The highway is expected to reopen to single lane alternating travel by the end of this week.
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