School District Superintendent Dan Lowndes says they have spent most of this week preparing to welcome students back to class on Monday. (January 10)
Lowndes says planning has taken place on a multitude of levels.
“From classroom to all of our support staff and supporting teachers to transportation and finance and our custodial staff, all working to develop contingency plans essentially so we’re ready for anything as best we can to avoid disruption to the learning environment.”
Lowndes says preserving in-person learning is of the utmost importance, and is front of mind for all staff.
He says a big part of that is preparing for possible staffing shortages due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
“We do have dispatch as we normally would to fill vacancies. We also have itinerant staff that is able to step in, we have other staff within our schools that can hopefully cover in a moments notice. We do have the ability to combine classes if students are away, obviously being mindful of our class size commitments and collective agreement with our local teachers association.”
Lowndes says they are also prepared for a temporary school closure if it gets to that point.
“If at 8 o’clock in the morning and students are already leaving for school, already arriving at school, and if we understand that there is a staffing shortage to the point where we’re in a functional closure for that day, we’ll have to work with families at that point to come pick children up as best they can that day. We also have plans to have other staff from around our district, me included, to go to the school to support at that time. So then the functional closure for the school could begin officially for the next following day.”
Lowndes calls it an all hands on deck approach.
He says parents with questions or concerns should reach out to their child’s principal as a first step.
Lowndes says there is also updated health and safety plans on the District’s website.
“Stressing the importance also of students and families and parents following our new health and safety guidelines. Examples are staying home when we’re sick, and making sure we have properly fitting masks at all times in schools.”
Lowndes says a message to the community will also be going out today. (Friday)