49% of Central Okanagan students returning to classrooms; masks won't be required - InfoNews

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49% of Central Okanagan students returning to classrooms; masks won't be required

May 21, 2020 - 7:30 PM

Around 49 per cent of students in the Central Okanagan will return to classrooms this June and once there they will see a whole new set of circumstances.

There will be routine daily screening for all staff and students, increased cleaning and the implementation of smaller class sizes. Desks will be separated and there will even be a potential for differential school attendance on a routine basis each week.

According to guidelines set out by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, schools may also see small group activities and wearing of non-medical masks for group activities, there will be no high-contact sports and group sizes for extracurricular activities will be limited.

“We continue to take our direction on safety protocols from the provincial health hfficer, the Ministry of Education and BCCDC,” Central Okanagan schools superintendent Kevin Kaardal said in an emailed statement.  

And despite both B.C.’s and Canada’s top doctors pivoting toward recommending the wearing of masks in places where social distancing is more of a challenge, Kaardal said he doesn’t anticipate that will be the case in B.C. classrooms.

“Due to the number of students who have indicated they are returning to class and enhanced safety protocols, we anticipate that appropriate physical distancing and other safety procedures are achievable,” he said.

“Our plan is still in development and when completed and reviewed, we will make it public prior to June 1. Our schools are safe for students and staff to learn and teach on-site now, as we have been open for particular students since April 6 as a part of a "Stage Four" response.”

As schools move to Stage Three, Kaardal said they will continue to be safe for students and staff to learn on-site and if the provincial health officer makes changes to the recommendations, they will adjust.

Kaardal said currently all staff — other than those with medically compromised conditions, who will continue to support learners receiving remote instruction — are back working on-site one day per week.

“They are working the other four days remotely,” he said. “We expect all of these same staff to be back working on site as per our Stage Three Plan schedules."

A survey of all students' families completed Monday of this week indicates that 48.5 per cent of students (10,812) would be returning to classrooms on June 1.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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