Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School. (Submitted photo)

Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School. (Submitted photo)

Pre-existing woes might deepen after COVID-19 for remote Vancouver Island schools

Logistics, transportation and a broadened spectrum of vulnerable students are some of the challenges SD 84 schools will have to deal with

Post COVID-19, remote schools on Vancouver Island will have to deal with more than than just pandemic-imposed disruptions.

While pre-existing problems, especially with transportation, are going to intensify, schools will also have to deal with a broad spectrum of vulnerable students.

For SD 84 schools in Zeballos, Gold River, Kyuquot and Tahsis, challenges that existed before COVID-19 are going to be persistent even after the pandemic settles, said Lawrence Tarasoff, Superintendent of Schools & Secretary Treasurer.

In communities like Zeballos and Gold River, where 30-50 students use school buses, physical distancing and managing logistics is going to be a big challenge with limited vehicles.

An average round trip to school in these communities is between 30 minutes to an hour. In addition, spacing out children in the bus might add five to seven round trips unless more vehicles are arranged.

“It’s going to be extremely time consuming, leaving students with lesser classroom time.”

Each school in SD 84 has its own challenge.

“Zeballos has only one bus driver for 46 students,” said Tarasoff. That coupled with a lack of a gas station in Zeballos, is going to be a logistical hurdle when arranging multiple school trips.

To add to this, the pandemic has already strained the education system in these remote communities. With weak Internet connectivity and technological limitations, a “virtual classroom” has not been an ideal solution here.

“Families that have five or six students in one house, trying to get on different virtual classrooms with a weak bandwidth makes things awkward,” said Tarasoff.

Educators in these communities are moving way from technology to deal with these challenges. They maintain connection with students through phone calls, paper packages and also provide an option to come in to schools for half a day or for one-on-one consultations with their teachers.

Educators have also seen an increase in the number of students who struggle with learning during the lockdown.

“The spectrum of ‘vulnerable students’ has widened within these months,” said Tarasoff who witnessed that a lot of students were overwhelmed and anxious with the disconnect from normal school routines.

“It’s not just children with special needs that have been identified as vulnerable students during these past couple of months, but even the ones who do not show progress in their learning curves have been included in this category.”

Based on the educational requirements of these students, teachers have had to constantly modify their strategies to see what works best for these students.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Tarasoff.

According to provincial plans, schools will open slowly as per the five-stage plan. Currently in stage four where schools are open to children of essential workers and vulnerable students, there is still no clear picture about normal school activities resuming anytime soon.

The longer the COVID-19 imposed lockdown goes on for schools, there is also a danger of children forsaking formal education said Tarasoff.

Worried more about older students opting for this, Tarasoff said, “Once students get disconnected from schools, it is very difficult to get them back.”

READ ALSO: Tahsis students step out for socially distanced farm to school activities

CoronavirusEducationTransportation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, said the business organization will host a workshop for its members on how to deal with customers who refuse to wear masks. (File photo)
Workshop to help Duncan businesses deal with customers refusing to wear masks

DDBIA says businesses continue to deal with anti-maskers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read