Columbia Valley schools are reopening September 10th. COVID-19 is no less a threat than this past spring. The valley’s school district is committed to creating a safe environment for kids, educators, parents and school staff.

“This school year will be unlike any before,” said Karen Shipka, school district six’s superintendent. “We remain unwavering in our focus on high-quality teaching and learning in environments that keep our students, staff and families safe.”

The B.C. government announced at the end of July students would return to in-person classes in September, at near-normal operations, with health measures in place. The plethora of regulations and protocols school district six has rolled out continues to evolve. The latest, for kids in Grades 4 to 12: non-medical masks are mandatory on buses and in hallways. No lockers for the month of September.

“We have to put aside what classes were like in March or even in June,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry earlier this month. “It is important to remember that the layers of protection we use at work, at the grocery store and in restaurants will also be used in our schools.”

Other changes include: requiring staff and students to conduct daily health checks prior to coming to school; strict stay-at-home protocols for those who are feeling unwell; hand hygiene requirements for students and staff; enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in schools and on buses; encouraging physical distancing and using masks when distancing is not possible; creating cohorts of students.

“The needs of our school district can differ from others around the province so we have to be aware of the best way to craft protocol that makes sense for Columbia Valley schools,” said Shipka. Wherever there is an opportunity for gathering or where there are touch points, kids must wear masks. “There’s a shared responsibility for us all to ensure we have no cases,” said Shipka.

The goal this fall is no new cases in school district six. Shipka is optimistic. “If everyone does part we believe we will be okay. We are confident in our plan and in the leadership at our schools to execute the plan, follow protocol,” said Shipka. “Part of our plan is the educational piece. Kids need to understand that this is not short term.”

“Out of fear and concern, it can be tempting to shut our doors and turn our backs on each other,” said Henry. “That’s not what we have been doing in B.C.”

For news, information and updates to the protocol, visit sd6.bc.c