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First week back to class underway at Vernon schools

Only 35 per cent of secondary students returned June 1 and 50 per cent of elementary

Some parents have sent their kids back to school this week, following COVID-19 class cancellations, but not all are ready to take the risk.

The Vernon School District saw 3,038 students back in class starting June 1, of the 8,775 enrolled in 19 schools, including international students, according to its survey findings.

That’s 35 per cent of all students.

“About 50 per cent of elementary and 30 per cent secondary,” School District No. 22 superintendent Joe Rogers said.

“We anticipate more students will return next week.”

Parents raised concerns about the unavailability of busing, maintaining social distancing and what the school day will look like, while one parent said they won’t be sending their child as they don’t want them using hand sanitizer.

Some students also complained about the amount of hand sanitizing.

“We have to use it before we enter the class and every time we leave,” said one BX student, who was thrilled to see all her friends again. “By the end of the day my hands were literally peeling.”

Many parents whose children won’t be returning this year questioned the point of sending their students to class for one or two days a week, for most students, as the academic year ends June 25.

Others have concerns about the spread of germs, including COVID-19.

But Interior Health has stated that the risk of the coronavirus is low in schools.

READ MORE: Risk of COVID-19 low in schools, Interior Health states

The school district also has a comprehensive control plan and students are being reassured plans are in place to keep them safe.

“The first two days back went very well,” said Rogers. “Each school sent an informative video to their families last week clearly listing all of the safety protocols that are in place including entry and exit procedures, hallway directional instructions , hand sanitizing and handwashing procedures and lunchtime routines.”

Each student is welcomed back every morning at the school entrance by an administrator who asks some health questions and has the student sanitize their hands before entering the building.

“Over the past two days I had the privilege of visiting 18 schools and am very proud of the professionalism and dedication of our teachers especially given that this is the third start to the school year – regular, online, and now a hybrid of in-class and online instruction,” said Rogers. “Students are very excited to see their friends and teachers. Our grade 12 students are receiving small group instruction and individual support to ensure they successfully complete the work needed to graduate.”

Seaton student Mathias Hartwig helped put together some of the footage for his school’s return video. And he was excited to get back to class.

“It’s going to be pretty nice because we’ve been so disconnected for such a long time,” the Grade 11 student said.

Many teachers were also thrilled to get back to class and see some of the students in person again.

The breakdown of students returning (and percentage) is as follows:

  • Lavington - 90 (55 per cent)
  • Beairsto - 344 (54.6 per cent)
  • Hillview - 210 (52 per cent)
  • BX - 217 (49.7 per cent)
  • Coldstream - 175 (47.8 per cent)
  • Okanagan Landing - 166 (46.5 per cent)
  • Harwood - 189 (42 per cent)
  • Alexis Park - 128 (40.2 per cent)
  • Mission Hill - 144 (40 per cent)
  • Kidston - 139 (39 per cent)
  • J.W. Inglis - 128 (34.7 per cent)
  • Silver Star - 152 (33.8 per cent)
  • Clarence Fulton - 195 (28.3 per cent)
  • W.L. Seaton - 253 (28.2 per cent)
  • Kalamalka - 151 (25.8 per cent)
  • VSS - 249 (24.7 per cent)
  • Cherryville - 17 (21.5 per cent)
  • Charles Bloom - 72 (20 per cent)
  • International students - 21 (nine per cent)
  • Alternate programs - 28 (seven per cent)

READ MORE: Vernon back-to-school survey due Friday


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J.W. Inglis Elementary Principal Mrs. Takasaka talks about the importance of physical distancing as Lumby kids head back to class June 1. (Video screenshot)
Grade 5 BX Elementary students, Jenna Langlois, left, and Jo Seibel use hand sanitizer before entering the school June 2, 2020. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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