Indigenous communities collaborate with SD #6 on back to school plans

A different tone will mark the start of the school year for students returning to studies

After the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) shuttered B.C. schools early last spring, students will return to school this fall for in-person classes.

Rocky Mountain School District #6 (SD6) has recently socialized the Back to School plan with Indigenous communities from the Columbia Valley to hear their perspective about moving forward with education, while implementing safety protocols to support both the staff and the student populations from the community.

“We shared our Back to School plan with our Indigenous partners and met with them to discuss the plan,” Karen Shipka, superintendent of SD6 said in an e-mail to the Pioneer. “They had questions regarding masks and cohort size and we were able to clarify the protocols that were in the plan. At this point we are returning to full class instruction with learning groups as articulated in the plan. There was no request for online or at home learning from our Indigenous partners at this point.” While the SD6 administration expects this fall will have a different tone than previous school years, the staff plans to be flexible so that it can navigate daily operations while adhering to the latest provincial safety measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

“The first few days of school is often focused on getting to know one another and building relationships,” said Shipka. “This year will be like no other as we will welcome students back to school and will need to establish new safety protocols. These protocols are designed to keep everyone safe and healthy. Teachers and students are anxious to get back to learning but looking after one another is critical.”

She emphasized the need to stay agile from an administration perspective, so that families and students will be set up for success going forward. “Right now we are exploring a variety of options in the event we are directed to shift between stage two and stage three,” Shipka explained. “I am told there were some challenges for students in the spring connecting to learning. Principals and Teachers understand that as of Sept. 8 students will be out of school for 175 days and that review of prior learning will be required before new learning can occur.”

To learn more about the provincial guidelines about going back to school, please visit: for more information.

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