Candace Spilsbury is the chair of the Cowichan Valley School District board. (Photo by Mark Margerison)

SD79 back-to-school details to be announced Aug. 26

The official start day for students within the Cowichan School District is Sept. 10 but parents won’t know details about what the first day — and the rest of the school year — will look like until Aug. 26.

Despite the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the schools will be open and ready to welcome students in September, but it won’t be the same as years past.

“Some flexibility in start time will allow for students to be orientated to the new look and feel of school, and learn the safety protocols and procedures that are designed to keep everyone safe,” explained SD79 spokesperson Mike Russell in a news release.

Russell said the board recognizes that students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators all have questions and concerns and the board is doing its best to ensure the back-to-school plan reflects the varying needs of everyone in the SD79 community, and includes options for schooling no matter the personal or family circumstance.

“We are carefully and thoughtfully working our way towards a localized return-to-school plan that will help all students and staff have a safe and productive school year,” said SD79 board chair Candace Spilsbury. “Schools are safe places, by following the updated health and safety guidelines from the Ministry of Education and Provincial Health Officer, we can ensure they will stay that way.”

The district’s Board of Education is currently using the B.C. Government Return to School Plan as a road map to help guide the planning process but information is evolving and planning is taking time to ensure a safe return in September.

“Schools will welcome staff back on Sept. 8 as planned, and will work to transition students back to school in a safe way that considers their social and emotional needs,” explained Russell. “These planning days will allow staff to come together to meet with their school-based health and safety teams, finalize planning for the weeks and months ahead, and adjust to the enhanced health and safety procedures before welcoming students back.”

SD79’s plans will be emailed to the parents of students and posted on the district’s website and social media channels on Aug. 26.

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