Central Okanagan teachers to head back to work in staggered shifts - InfoNews

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Central Okanagan teachers to head back to work in staggered shifts

MLA Norm Letnick hosted a virtual town hall through Zoom April 30 with Central Okanagan School District No.23 board chair Moyra Baxter and superintendent Kevin Kaardal.
Image Credit: ZOOM
May 01, 2020 - 7:09 AM

Central Okanagan teachers and staff members will soon return to on-site work in staggered shifts, according to the latest from Central Okanagan Public Schools.

School district No. 23 board chair Moyra Baxter and superintendent Kevin Kaardal answered the public’s questions during a virtual town hall with MLA Norm Letnick Thursday night, April 30.

During the town hall, Kaardal addressed a memo that was sent out to staff regarding plans to return to work on-site.

READ MORE: Learning from home, through ZOOM and sometimes in class, Central Okanagan schools adapting fast

At some point, staff needs to prepare for the return to on-site service, Kaardal said.

“Our schools are safe places right now… and we would like to make sure that staff have been on site at least one day in a week, that’s all we’re asking at this time, suggesting that (they return in staggered shifts)… so we can easily practice our physical distancing… and have them do their remote learning on site.”

It’s easy to physically distance from one another at this time on school sites, he said.

“What we’re asking for is a percentage of staff to show up each day so over a week we’ll have had all staff (work on site).”

Baxter said the board is following all the guidelines of the Ministry of Education and from the provincial health officer.

“We are trying to have a plan where staff can come back gradually, maybe once a week to learn how to work with the new protocols around safety and safety is... one of the key things we’re worried about here,” Baxter said.

READ MORE: 2,000 Central Okanagan kids will still get schools breakfast and lunch program

The board is hoping staff will return to work within the next week, so teachers can learn how to adapt, Baxter said.

Wearing a mask will not be mandatory, but staff members are welcome to bring them, Kaardal said.

Tier 1 and tier 2 essential workers' students are already on-site, or about two per cent of the district’s 23,000 students, Kaardal said. Roughly 70 “vulnerable” students are also receiving in-class instruction.

The school board is following provincial guidelines and is awaiting guidance from the province as to when students will be able to return to class and how.

Plans to re-open B.C.’s economy will be unveiled next week.

Baxter also noted that grad ceremonies will not be taking place as they normally would in pre-pandemic times, noting that provincial health officer Bonnie Henry has repeatedly said large gatherings will not be happening this summer. 

READ MORE: Okanagan student hammers home message for teens to isolate, otherwise it could cost them their prom night

Overall, in terms of feedback that the district has been receiving: “We’re getting a lot of people who are pleased with the service that’s being provided right now. They’re actually thrilled, understanding the circumstances we’re in," Kaardal said. 

"We have some people who are feeling that it’s not enough and we have other people who feel it’s too much and they’re overwhelmed and it’s not working for their families and their circumstances," he said, adding with more than 23,000 students and their families, the district is trying to meet needs as best they can. If the service learning isn’t working for a student, talk to a teacher or principal, he said.

“Teaching is a relational business and doing this remotely is very different,” he said. “We’ve been asked to change this in a matter of weeks.... This delivery system in some cases is working well, and in some cases for those on the margins right now is not working and we’ll continue to try and work with them and do better, but we may not be able to deliver that quality of service that they had in-class learning.”


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