Changes are coming to School District 27 and the 2020/2021 school year due to COVID-19. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

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

Older students will also be required to wear face masks on buses

In a letter penned to parents and guardians, School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark revealed Tuesday, Aug. 18 that school is going to look a lot different for Cariboo Chilcotin secondary students next month.

The district has made the decision to change from an existing semester system of four courses over a 20-week period to a quarter system which will see students take two courses over a 10-week period.

The necessary move will reduce some student choice for electives, but will allow the district to meet the needed cohort requirement for older students which limits learning groups to 120. Van der Mark noted they cannot comply with the Ministry learning group limit without the change, which will be implemented at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House and Lake City Secondary School (Columneetza and Williams Lake campuses) in Williams Lake.

“Changes to schedules and course selection are not our preference, but we ask that parents and students consider the unique challenges of the situation and recognize that districts across the province are all grappling with this challenge,” he stated.

“Beyond limiting contacts, the use of the quarter system at secondary allows us to more-seamlessly transition into another stage or delivery model should government make changes to the restart plan to address future developments.”

The timetable alteration will require secondary administration to significantly alter the schedules, he noted.

Student busing will also be different, as middle and secondary students will be required to wear masks on the bus due to the inability to socially distance. The school district will provide students with two reusable masks for any situations where distancing is not possible, he noted.

With a cohort limit of 60 students, van der Mark said elementary schools can be fairly easily configured using existing class structures and they expect a fairly “normal” return for students in our elementary and small rural schools, with the obligatory added focus on cleaning, hand washing and hygiene,

“We are confident in our ability to offer a safe learning environment for our students and staff and we are excited for the full return of students. Not only will the learning groups limit student body interactions, they will ultimately help the health authority effectively contact trace in the event of exposure, thus limiting its impact,” van der Mark said.

The district’s Ministry-approved final plan will be out to parents on Aug. 26.

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School District No 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin)

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