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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Planning for back to school

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 [On July 29], Rob Fleming, the Minister of Education, announced a provincial plan to return all students to school on Tuesday, Sept. 8, under an updated Stage 2 of the BC Education Restart Plan. With the guidance of the Provincial Public Health team, the Ministry of Education has updated Stage 2 in order to enhance the safety measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID while also returning all students to school. 

This plan includes provincial funding to support increased custodial services for enhanced cleaning protocols, increased hand-washing stations and supplies, increased cleaning supplies for schools, making available reusable masks for staff who wish to use them, and to provide technology enhancements for student learning. The enhanced safety measures in Stage 2 include organizing students and school staff into a Learning Group Cohort model rather than schools achieving density targets at different grade levels. This means that consistent groups of students and staff will be created and remain safely together for student learning and support. These cohorts will remain together for a determined amount of time and specific measures will be taken in the event of any change to the groupings. 

Students and staff who exhibit any symptoms of illness will continue to be asked to remain home. The cohort size for elementary and middle school students and staff will be 60 people. The cohort size for secondary students and staff will be 120 people. Online learning may support some of our secondary school course offerings to assist graduation program students with achieving their graduation and post-secondary goals. 

With this provincial pathway forward, we have enough direction to begin our detailed SD48 planning. We will be working over the next few weeks prior to school start-up to create our Learning Group Cohort model for effective educational programming for students and the school safety plans to keep all students and staff safe. 

Throughout our planning, we will continue to consult with and follow the direction of the Public Health Officers and the Ministry of Education. We will also receive further ministerial direction in the weeks to come and will then be able to provide more detailed information to you. I look forward to connecting with you again before school start-up. We are very excited to welcome our students back to school in September! Stay safe and enjoy the remainder of the summer vacation. 

Lisa McCullough // Superintendent of schools, Sea to Sky School District (No. 48)