Students won’t be heading back to class after spring break, but teachers will.
In-class instruction is suspended but school district staff will be returning to work on March 30. That’s where plans for the continuity of learning will be worked out.
For the 8,500 students in the Vernon School District, that means some form of education will be back on track.
“The majority of our kids will be working from home,” Vernon School District superintendent Joe Rogers said.
The situation is the same in North Okanagan-Shuswap district.
But there may be different plans for elementary-aged children whose parents work in essential services such as medical health professionals, first responders, pharmacists and critical infrastructure workers.
“So they can go to work and potentially save us all,” said Rogers, adding that rules are changing daily therefore plans are constantly in flux.
“We will support the essential worker’s children at school for those families that do not have any other childcare options. All other students will be learning from home.”
Digital and paper options are being developed to ensure all students can work with their teachers from home.
Students are expected to hear from their teachers by Friday, April 3.
“The majority of the kids will get contact from the teachers next week saying, ‘here’s some activities to do outside of the classroom.’”
With so much uncertainty and anxiety the COVID-19 pandemic is creating, the district wants to connect with families and staff to help reduce anxiety.
“Our first priority is the social and emotional support for our students and staff,” Rogers said.
“We’re just trying to work this out for your kids, my kids and our grandkids.”
Meanwhile, there are some international students who have chosen to return home to be with their families as some countries have been shut down.
The entire situation is unlike anything students, or teachers, have ever seen. For Rogers there are only a couple of historic moments that compare: 9/11 and the 1963 assassination of the U.S. President.
“The only time I was ever shocked like this I was a little kid, and John F. Kennedy got killed, my mom was crying and I was like, ‘what’s going on?’”
It’s unknown how long this pandemic will last, but Rogers is concerned.
“China’s just starting to come down the curve and it started in September and in Italy it’s still going up.
“If you go up for two months, I guess you go down for two months.”
He’s also concerned about the potential for COVID-19 to return.
“Until they find a vaccine this could come back next winter just like any flu.”