SD 69 superintendent Keven Elder said at-home learning is underway in the district and looks different for every child. (File photo)

COVID-19: Eventual return to school will look different in SD69

Superintendent Elder unsure when face-to-face instruction will resume

While it remains uncertain when school will return it likely won’t simply be back to normal.

School District 69 (Qualicum) superintendent Keven Elder said whether school returns in a limited capacity in the spring or if it’s held off until the fall – adjustments will have to be made.

“It would be primarily based around the protocols around physical distancing and capacity to keep things clean, surfaces and so on,” said Elder. “If there would be a return this spring, it would be smaller numbers in any given space, we don’t know if that’s a quarter of the usual number or something different from that.”

Elder said when face-t0-face instruction does happen again, classroom numbers will likely have to be reduced with children going to school on alternating days.

“We’d have some sort of staggered attendance where certain students are there for a period of time, then the others come in,” he said. “It might be on a daily basis that it changes, or every two days of a group of kids in… it would be a relatively small number of days that students would be able to attend.”

READ MORE: PQBeat Podcast: Keven Elder, SD69 superintendent of schools

For now, students in the district are learning at home, and Elder said it’s been successful overall, but that it’s on a case-by-case basis in terms of how much work students can take on. He stressed that it’s still not homeschooling, but rather keeping up literacy and numeracy.

Elder said some students are less invested and some don’t have home environments that make learning at home as easy. Students will not be penalized for not completing work while schools are closed.

“No one will be failing courses because of COVID,” he said. “Some we can just say, ‘here’s your learning program,’ and for others we’re saying, ‘we’re just trying to keep you emotionally well, and that’s job one for you.’”

Older students aiming to go to post-secondary are obviously in a different boat than elementary-aged ones, and Elder said many of them have been working especially hard to keep up.

“By the end of June we’ll have a sense of the learning up until spring break combined with whatever was possible after spring break [which] will result in a final assessment and a final grade for secondary students and a final transcript for Grade 12s to go on to post-secondary,” said Elder. “And that’s all really student-by-student.”

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