The Qualicum School District is gearing up for a voluntary return to school on June 1, along with districts across the province.
Keven Elder, superintendent of schools for SD69, said the voluntary return will differ for elementary and high school-aged children. The district doesn’t know the number of children returning to school as of now, but Elder said he expects it to be a minority.
“We started by going to parents of K to seven children, of all of our elementary students, and asking them for, with your school, your teacher, your grade… do you intend to have your child return starting June 1?” said Elder. “Or not. Or, is your answer maybe, and if it’s maybe, what are the things that you’re wondering about?”
Kindergarten to Grade 5 students will attend school on a half-time basis. Elder said it could look like alternating weeks or a few days on and then off, but not morning/afternoon splits — that would make cleaning too difficult.
On the other hand, students in Grades 6 to 12 will have the option to return to school one day a week. Children who are of childminding age and have parents that are essential workers will have the option to return full-time.
All staff who are able are returning as of May 25 to prepare for the return. They will also continue to assist students who continue to learn from home, but will have less time to do so.
In terms of physical distancing, younger children are going to have minimal contact with each other and older students will be expected to physically distance where possible.
Elder emphasized that no one will be penalized in any way for not returning to school and that students will have the opportunity to find out what works for them, especially when it comes to high school students and students with unique needs.
“None of this has any effect on grades at the end of the year, we’re being very, very flexible on what constitutes end of year reporting,” he said.