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Armstrong Elementary School to reopen next week, students reminded to wear masks

Initial ‘functional closure’ announced after teachers refuse work
On the sixth day of a functional closure of Armstrong Elementary School, School District 83 announced the school would be open once more for in-person learning as of Monday, Jan. 24. (File photo )

Armstrong Elementary students will be back in school on Monday.

Following a six-day functional closure, in-person learning will resume at the school on Jan. 24.

In a Jan. 21 letter shared on the school’s website, School District 83 superintendent Donna Kriger expressed gratitude to Armstrong Elementary School (AES) parents, thanking them for their patience and understanding.

“I am fully aware of the many hardships and challenges the functional closure caused you and your family,” said Kriger. “Unfortunately, we were unable to find another solution to the staffing shortages we were experiencing.”

On Jan. 13, the school district announced a functional closure of AES would take place Jan. 14 and 17. On the 17th, the closure was extended to the 21st.

A functional closure is a temporary closure determined by a school district or independent school when there isn’t enough staff to provide the required level of teaching, supervision or support to ensure the health and safety of students.

Prior to Jan. 13, the North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers Association told the Observer four teachers at the school had signed a refusal for unsafe work claim through WorkSafeBC due to the high number of students with exemptions to the Provincial Health Order requiring the wearing of masks.

On Jan. 14 and 16, the school reported three of its staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. The dates of possible exposures at the school were between Jan. 10 and 12.

“Thank you for supporting your school by continuing to check your child(ren) for symptoms and keeping them home if they are sick,” said Kriger. “I also wish to remind you that students are to wear masks while at school unless they have an exemption as outlined in Section 2 and Section 3 of the Public Health Order, dated December 3, 2022.”

Kriger also thanked staff at Armstrong Elementary for their dedicated efforts to keep students learning “within a remote environment,” and principal Corrinne Langston for showing “tremendous leadership through this challenging time by leading with clear direction, compassion and empathy.”

“I remain hopeful that when this trying time is over, we will have relationships that are strengthened resulting from the support we were able to give one another,” said Kriger. “We look forward to having your child(ren) return to school. I know their presence and excitement will bring great joy to the staff of AES.”

Read more: North Okanagan-Shuswap trustees cautioned COVID-19 may push some schools online

Read more: High number of mask exemptions prompts teachers at North Okanagan elementary to refuse work
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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