Levi Caddy, 6, left and Nathan Corkum, 12, enjoy one of the last days of summer vacation at the Nathan Matthews Memorial Skate Park in Boitanio Park Tuesday, Sept. 8 before school resumes in the Cariboo Chilcotin. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Families jump back into fall routines

COVID brings change as sudent head back to class

From the resumption of school zone speed limits to the first day back to school in a pandemic, there will be lots on the plates of parents and students this week.

School zone speed limits went into effect on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

As this year will see a modified schedule due to COVID-19 restrictions, everyone – drivers, guardians and students — will be required to be extra cautious because starting times and days will be different throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin region.

BC RCMP warn that students may be distracted by putting on masks and suggested students even wear brightly coloured clothing or put reflective decals on bags and backpacks, especially once the daylight hours begin to diminish.

A speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour is applicable on school days between 8 a.m to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark is setting the stage for a calm, safe, knowledgeable return to school.

In a letter penned to families released Thursday, Sept. 3, van der Mark noted the risk of COVID-19 is low but that it is also important not to be complacent.

“We are very fortunate to live in a rural part of the province, and our lower population density combined with better physical distancing and hygiene has helped keep our region very safe from the pandemic,” van der Mark said, adding schools are following the same rigorous health, cleaning and distancing requirements that apply to metro areas.

This week students in the Cariboo Chilcotin will head back to the classrooms either Thursday and Friday, depending on their grade. Full-time classes resume Monday, Sept. 14.

Read more: Williams Lake and 100 Mile House secondary schools going to quarter semesters due to COVID-19

Van der Mark said while adults in school buildings will remain two meters apart where possible when school starts, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control recognizes that social distancing is not always feasible and is not expected in classrooms.

“Instead we will be encouraging children to avoid direct physical contact, as well as focusing on how children and staff can move around safely in a school environment. Through these efforts, our communities and our schools remain very safe. Moreover, our schools remain one of the best controlled, clean environments during this pandemic.”

Cohorts will help health authorities trace potential contacts if and when positive cases occur but will also, unfortunately for students, limit the interactions for them across their day.

“However, limited interactions are significantly better than the continued social isolation of children,” he added.

School District 27 is teaming up with Interior Health on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. to host a virtual Town Hall meeting to help answer any remaining questions parents may have. Participants are asked to send questions to info@sd27.bc.ca in advance so the district can prepare for the session. The Town Hall Link will be posted on the website and through social media.

“We are all in this together, and I hope we will all provide the calm and confidence to our children and our communities that enables them to be resilient and look to the future with the bright optimism of youth,” said van der Mark.

Read more: B.C. records 429 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths over Labour Day long weekend


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