The Okanagan Skaha School District has a plan in place for when students return to school this fall. (Black Press file photo)

COVID-19: School District 67 implements back-to-school plans

Face masks, cleaning protocols and learning cohorts included in strategy as pandemic continues

The Okanagan Skaha School District has made its plans for reopening schools this fall, but the structure of the school year will be different from past years as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Schools are going to look different in September. Staff, students and parents need time to get familiar with all the new health and safety procedures that are designed to keep them safe and confident in their school settings,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education for the province.

The school district, which operates 20 schools in Penticton, Summerland, Kaleden and Naramata, will have a gradual entry in place on Sept. 10 and 11, with schools fully in session on Sept. 14.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Most secondary students in person at B.C. schools

READ ALSO: From masks to cohorting, a guide to back-to-school rules across the country

“Since the announcement, School District No. 67 staff have been working on reviewing the updated enhanced safety protocols and Stage 2 details. These plans have been created by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the provincial health officer and continue to lead with student and staff safety as the priority,” Todd Manuel, superintendent of schools said.

“Please be aware that there is the potential for adjusted schedules for students in order to meet the new guidelines as our schools plan to have students working in learning groups.”

The school district has purchased two reusable masks for every staff member and every middle school and secondary school student. Mask protocols, including on school buses, will be reviewed during the school district’s orientation week.

Ventilation rates have been increased at all school district sites to bring in more outdoor air and to allow for less recirculated air.

Cleaning and disinfecting protocols have also been put in place.

Elementary and middle school students will attend for full days and will be organized in learning cohorts of up to 60 students.

Secondary school students will be organized in a quarterly system, with two long blocks each day.

Grade 9 students will receive 100 per cent in-class instruction, while students in Grades 10 to 12 will attend school 75 per cent of the time, alternating between full days and half days.

In addition, alternatives to in-class learning, such as online learning and homeschooling are available. However, the school district says these options may affect future options to re-enrol as an in-class student in the future.

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