Families take advantage of the warm weather to walk their children to class for the first day of school at Marie Sharpe Elementary School Wednesday. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Families take advantage of the warm weather to walk their children to class for the first day of school at Marie Sharpe Elementary School Wednesday. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Increased enrolment, staff shortages as children head back-to-school in School District 27

The first full day of classes is Thursday, Sept. 8

The sights and sounds of children filled the playgrounds once again across the lakecity as students headed back to the classroom in School District 27 on Tuesday, Sept 7.

The first day was a half day, with students back-to-school full-time starting Thursday, Sept. 8.

At Lake City Secondary School in Williams Lake, Curt Levens is the new principal at the Williams Lake campus for Grades 10-12, while Columneetza will have Craig Munroe as the principal there.

For families living on Dog Creek Road either heading into town or to Mountview Elementary School, construction tested the patience of many on the first day back to school, while in the city itself drivers seemed to adhere to the 30 km/hour school zones in an orderly fashion.

Superintendent Chris van der Mark said he is really looking forward to see a continued return to normal after the pandemic.

“Covid’s not gone, but we’re far more aware of how to deal with it while keeping ourselves and others safe,” said van der Mark, noting there continues to be enhanced cleaning in the schools including a wipe down of high-touch areas every 24 hours. Students and staff are welcome to wear masks, however, they are not a requirement. Families are asked to keep children home when sick.

As far as student numbers go, the district is anticipating another significant bump in enrolment this year. Last year enrolment increased by more than 300 students, and it could be ‘in the hundreds’ again this year.

As with most sectors, staffing has also been a challenge, with the school district “filling a few positions even at this late hour.”

“It’s been a challenging summer but our HR department has been working hard to recruit … we are not quite fully staffed yet but we hope to be soon.”

Van der Mark once again thanked parents for their continued understanding and support through the challenges of the pandemic.

“It’s going to be a good year. We’re really looking forward to hearing the laughter of kids and the pitter-patter of tiny feet in the halls again.”

This fall, residents will go the polls to vote for trustees to represent SD27.

Van der Mark said he was thrilled to see that most, if not all, current trustees are planning to run again and appreciates the interest and involvement community members have shown in their local education system.

The local school district provides education to approximately 4,600 students across 22 schools in an area about the same size as New Brunswick. The distance between the most eastern and western schools is over 500 km.

Read More: Bull Mountain orienteering event Sept. 11 in Williams Lake


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School District No 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin)