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Keeping opportunities for learning open in COVID-19 environment

Schools in Kootenay Lake are quiet as the District makes plans for the continuation of during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spring Break is over.

However, instead of returning to classes Monday, students remained at home as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the BC government to close schools earlier in March.

School Districts throughout BC have been scrambling to prepare students what schooling will look like beyond Spring Break.

Kootenay Lake School Superintendent, Christine Perkins, is beginning a regular series of video updates to engage students, staff, parents and guardians on a personal level and to keep everyone informed about plans for the continuation of learning as the district moves through the COVID-19 pandemic together.

"I would like to assure all our families, our staff and students, we have been working hard behind the scenes in order to prepare for what will be a never-before experienced district-wide delivery of education for our students," Perkins said in a media release.

Perkins says the education sector has four guiding principles as the foundation moving forward:

  1. Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students and families and all employees.
  2. Provide services to support children of essential service workers.
  3. Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.
  4. Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

Health & safety of staff and students and the public – this comes first

Throughout spring break, all district schools underwent a deep clean. Protocols and plans at schools to ensure physical distancing and safe access were established.  Playgrounds and basketball courts were closed to prevent groups gathering.   “The last thing we would ever want is for one of our children to get sick, so we are begging parents, and the public, to ensure their children and grand-children stay away from all playground equipment at this time,” says Perkins.

Focus on you – Communicating in as many ways possible

District and school-based staff will share information that is relevant and timely as soon as possible with staff, families and students. During the week of March 30-April 6, staff will begin checking in with families of their students, assessing needs so they can plan for learning and supports for children.  It is critical to know that teachers are especially important to the front line.  They are considered essential service workers, especially as we plan on providing services to support children of our frontline service workers, such as doctor and nurses.  All parents in this category are asked to complete a survey on the District website at sd8.bc.ca.  More information will come in the next week or two.

Learning in unique ways - Digital Connections

Schools will become virtual hubs for families and students in coming days.  Teachers will be connecting with students through all sorts of digital media from cellphones to emails, from videos to Zoom, and many other creative ideas.  Perkins says, “We know our students need to feel connected and our teachers do to.  For some teachers and students, going 100% digital will be a steep learning curve and for others, it will be exhilarating.”  The District Inclusive Education department will be in touch with students and families who may need special assistance,

Excelling at Learning

In the first few weeks following Spring Break, teachers will collaborate and  explore strategies about how to provide students with opportunities to continue their learning. Students' learning will look different and take many forms. “Our top priority will be to ensure our eligible Grade 12s graduate, and then, simultaneously, we will work our way through the system to ensure all our students excel,” says Perkins.

As all levels of governments, health care providers, service workers and our communities work together to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. School District 8 – Kootenay Lake is doing its’ part to ensure we focus on excellence for all our learners in a nurturing environment.

The District is also following the direction of the Ministry of Education by providing Face to Face in-school supports and instruction for children (Kindergarten to and including Grade 6) of Frontline Medical and Health Care Essential Workers will be available starting April 3rd.

Services will be provided daily (5 days per week) 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Frontline Medical and Healthcare Essential Service workers’ children (K-6).

In Nelson, the designated schools include, Hume Elementary and South Nelson Elementary while in Creston, Creston – Adam Robertson Elementary School has been pegged to host students.

The Board of Education of School District No. 8 provides educational services to numerous diverse communities in the East & West Kootenays, including Crawford Bay, Creston, Kaslo, Meadow Creek, Nelson, Salmo, Slocan, South Slocan, Winlaw, Wynndel and Yahk. Its dedicated team focuses on providing the best possible educational opportunities for over 5,400 students and their families. Its mission is to focus on excellence for all learners in a nurturing environment.