Rutland Senior Secondary staff have worked over the summer to prepare the school for students. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

WATCH: Kelowna school ready to welcome students

Signage, hand sanitizer stations, and staggered lunchtimes are part of the new normal

Students are back in school, and here’s how a Kelowna area high school prepared to welcome everyone back.

Signage reminding staff and students to wash their hands and keep their distance along the hallways, as well as floor markers indicating entrances, exits, and where students can stand to maintain a proper distance from others.

Floor pump hand sanitizers have also been installed at every entrance at Rutland Senior Secondary (RSS), as well as a new handwashing station by the cafeteria.

RSS vice-principal Jarret Atkins said he knew parents felt anxious about back to school and they tried to be mindful of those concerns.

“We just want to make parents, staff and students aware of the protocols that we’ve put in place, understanding that it’s going to look different for sure and that it’s different for a reason,” he said.

“We’re just excited to have students back in our building again and getting back to a little bit of normalcy, and getting back to the learning for our students.”

Other changes include staggered start times for different grades, meaning some students will start earlier and other grades will start later. This means that dismissal times, as well as lunchtimes, will also be staggered to keep student traffic down in the hallways and to keep cohorts small.

Atkins said the biggest challenge for them at RSS was trying to find a way to fit 1,500 students and around 160 staff members in the space while adhering to distancing protocols.

“We spent a lot of time over the summer trying to organize how that’s going to look from a district level and from a school level as well,” said Atkins. “Our health and safety committee met over the summer, thinking about what protocols are going to be a fit for RSS and we had a lot of staff giving ideas and input to get to the point where we are today.”

He added they’re not sure yet if all 1,500 students will come back to school until about next week.

“We know there are a few students who aren’t going to be attending. I’ve known a few families who’ve said that but overall, we’re expecting quite a few students to be in attendance.”

In all, Atkins said they’re excited to welcome students back.

“We’ve missed the buzz in the school so we’re really looking forward to getting that back.”

READ: RCMP looking for two witnesses possibly related to the Mona Wang wellness check in Kelowna

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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