Mount Boucherie Secondary School in West Kelowna. (Contributed)

Central Okanagan students go back to school

Superintendent of Schools for School District 23 Kevin Kaardal said about 48.5 per cent of students were registered for in-class learning

Central Okanagan schools are open for students again.

Not all students are back in the classrooms for in-class instruction. According to School District 23’s superintendent of schools Kevin Kaardal, about 48.5 per cent of families registered for in-person learning.

“Of course in all this time, we have had students in the schools. Essential service workers’ children and vulnerable students have been in school since April 6. But this is an increase in the number of students in school,” he said.

In all, about 11,000 elementary, middle and high school students are expected to go back to school over the course of the week.

For elementary students, they’ll be receiving in-class instruction two days a week, with remote learning for the rest of the time. Kaardal said this means a group of students will be at the school on Mondays and Tuesdays, and another group of students for Thursdays and Fridays.

“Teachers are also working in teams. They’re also still continuing to support the students who continue to learn from home,” he said.

Middle and secondary school students are onsite one day a week, with students rotating each day, depending on what each school has scheduled for them.

Kaardal said as a result of scheduling as well as some families’ choice to keep their kids at home, there are fewer students in classrooms, which is making physical distancing easier. The district is also implementing staggered breaks, so when younger students are out on the playgrounds, they can be kept in smaller groups.

He said there has been positive feedback from the parents so far.

“The kids are super excited to be back and the teachers that are there working with them are thrilled to see their students too. And of course, we’re working very hard to stay connected with those students who are learning remotely,” he said.

As for graduation, the district has a plan.

Kaardal said secondary schools in the district have all set up a stage area. Students will be able to pick up their caps and gowns, walk across the stage, and receive their diploma.

“This is going to be done in small groups, one at a time and distanced. But now, instead of a three-hour ceremony, it will take between five and eight days to get all of them on the stage,” he said.

“Then, it will all be put into a professional video, which will include speakers who won’t be at the site but will offer their best wishes to their grads. The video will then be sent back to the students.”

“We are all disappointed. It would’ve been great if we had our normal celebrations between prom and the commencement ceremonies… but we need to follow the provincial health officer’s guidance. But we’re trying to manage and give them some experience that’s a bit of a hybrid where it’s a virtual grad but they can still walk across the stage.”

READ MORE: Kelowna student’s grad petition gains steam

READ MORE: Central Okanagan schools ready to welcome students back

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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