‘Uy’ skweyul (good day) parents, guardians, and families,
Our District has been hard at work planning for the safe return of students and staff since my last letter to you. We have been meeting with our Principals and Vice Principals, our union partners, and our local Medical Health Officer and her team. We will be discussing our draft plans with Indigenous communities, District Parent Advisory Council, and our District Student Advisory Council as they develop. We want to ensure a quality plan, that is reflective of all of voices, is ready to roll out for September.
The provincial government has established the Return to School Plan and have advised that all schools in the province will return to Stage 2 of that plan for September. Within Stage 2 there is flexibility for us to localize the plan.
That flexibility will allow us to adjust how our first week back will look. We will welcome all staff back to schools on September 8th which will allow them time to come together and adjust to the enhanced health and safety procedures, meet with the school-based health and safety teams, and finalize planning for the weeks and months ahead before welcoming students back. Students will be welcomed back by September 10th and will be orientated to the new health and safety procedures. It is important to remember that school start, and the school year, will not look like it did in past years. We will work our hardest to ensure that the transition is safe and smooth for everyone while creating options for schooling no matter the personal or family circumstance.
One of the main tenants of the new school year plan is the cohort, or learning group, model. The cohort model allows us to ensure we keep our students and staff safe as they come back to school. It is important to remember that the cohort numbers given by the province, 60 for elementary and middle school and 120 for high schools, are maximums. Many of our schools will keep cohorts even lower.
There are still many questions that are yet to be answered, and not having answers may cause you and your family stress and anxiety. As part of our planning, our team is actively exploring opportunities and options that have been proposed to us. It is important to look at each of these opportunities and make sure they will work for everyone while keeping safety at the forefront.
The plan will be sent to you as soon as it’s reviewed by the Ministry of Education. It will also live on our website and social media channels. This will be done by August 26th at the latest.
Until that time, please rest assured that teachers, principals, parents, and administrators all want the same thing, a safe school year.
Huy tseep q’u (thank you all)
Robyn Gray, Superintendent of the Cowichan Valley School District.