School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark is setting the stage for a calm, safe, knowledgeable return to school next week.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Schools will have staff orientation regarding the new COVID-19 procedures on Sept. 8 and 9 and students will be welcomed back on Sept. 10 and 11.