After the provincial government announced January's return to classes would be delayed for most students, the Kamloops-Thompson School District said it will be reviewing plans and communicating with parents regarding the phased return.
In a press release sent out Thursday, Rhonda Nixon, School District 73 Superintendent, said schools will be notifying parents and families what to expect when most students return to school on Jan. 10.
“More information about plans for learning continuity and for enhanced measures will be made available to staff and parents once we have had the opportunity to review and discuss them,” Nixon said.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s education minister, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced elementary and secondary schools across the province won’t reopen for most students until Jan. 10.
According to the province, this is to allow school staff with more time to prepare enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols amidst a surge in cases spurred by the Omicron variant.
The province said school staff will begin work as planned, and the children of healthcare workers and those with special needs will be able to return on Jan. 3.
According to SD 73, provincial education and health ministries met with all B.C. school superintendents and board chairs prior to Wednesday’s announcement to discuss plans for the phased return.
Heather Grieve, SD 73 board chair, said she was “relieved” to find out the phased return was to provide staff with more time to prepare.
“I was relieved to hear that this phased start in January is related to the need for preparation time for school and district leaders to prepare for enhanced safety measures and not as a strategy for managing COVID outbreaks,” Grieve said.
According to the school district, many of the previously implemented safety measures will continue, such as using a daily health check, staying home when sick, wearing well-fitted masks and maintaining space between people.
SD 73 said enhanced safety measures will include rearranging classrooms to provide maximum space between students and staff and limiting visitors to schools.
In order to reduce crowding at transition times, SD 73 said there would be staggered stop and start times, breaks and lunches.
More measures include holding student and staff gatherings virtually rather than in-person, and pausing school sports tournaments.
Grieve said the school district would collaborate to revise the plans as they are directed by the government.
“Thank you to the community for continuing to work with us to ensure that our students, staff and visitors are safe,” Grieve said.