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Contingency plans in place as SD73 prepares for return of students on Monday | Radio NL

The Kamloops-Thompson School District office in Kamloops. (Image via Bill Quinn)

The Kamloops-Thompson School District principal says teachers and other school staff have been working hard to ensure a safe return to school Monday.

Rhonda Nixon says they are planning in-person learning, but told NL News there are contingency plans in place, just in case.

“There may be some students who are not at home because they are not in good health, and we may also have some employees in the same situation, so we fully expect this to be this second scenario, which is a mixed scenario,” she said. “This week, there have been a lot of employees preparing online materials so they can plan for this eventuality.”

“If we have a school with a lot of absenteeism that we didn’t anticipate, we could end up with a partial or full-functional closure of the school, and we’re going to deal with that on a case-by-case basis, so it has plans for that. And finally, if there’s a district that will move to Learning online, we are ready for that.”

In addition to safety measures that have been in place for months such as the use of masks — which will be distributed to students who do not have any — and daily health checks, there are additional safety measures in place to keep students and staff safe, Nixon says.

This includes virtual assemblies, intermittent breaks, and visitor restrictions.

“It may result in a functional school closure if there are not enough staff to teach one or more classes or an entire school. Staff and student absenteeism will be closely monitored, so if a school is in such a state, parents will be notified immediately,” Nixon added.

“The children will need to go home, and officials will then designate staff who can work from home and teach online… with the goal of getting back to face-to-face programming as soon as reasonably possible.”

It also indicated that contact tracing and general notification of exposure no longer occurs due to increased transmission of the Omicron variant.

“Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 with a rapid test should report the results, self-isolate, and notify close contacts,” Nixon said, referring to the allocation details in school community rapid tests expected from the Department of Education next week.

Nixon says that while they have planned four scenarios, she is optimistic that they will not need to stray from the personal learning plan.

“Any advice we’ve been given by Interior Health, we’ve followed and every school has upgraded filters to the industry standards that were described as well as cleaning procedures, and we’re confident in our ventilation system as well — they’ve upgraded this — as well as our cleaning practices,” Nixon added.

“We’ve hired additional staff and kept all surfaces clean at full strength this year.”

She says the area will deal with any anomalies as they arise.

“I think we need to live through the week, and trust that schools are safe,” Nixon said, adding that she wants to reassure staff, students and parents who may be concerned that schools are safe.

“Our internal health guidelines are exceptional. We’ve been successful in the past, so he’s going to work with us now. We’ll continue together as partners. I think we’ll be in the first scenario, and I think we’ll be able to stay there.”

“We keep track of every school, every day. We have an incredibly good department in terms of doing that and they give me a graph, charts first thing in the morning,
She added. “We have a whole team here that reaches out to the schools and asks them ‘How’s it going? Are there any abnormalities and what can we do to help? If there are remote employees, we have a very complex continuity of operations plan.”

You will find details about the 4 scenarios SD73 works on here.

Below is a breakdown of all the safety measures in place in schools:

Existing safety measures

  • Continue to complete Daily Health Checklist or use K to 12 Health Check App;
  • Ensure students and staff stay home when they are sick or show symptoms;
  • Use the available space to publish and respect the personal space of others;
  • Students and staff wear masks while in schools or on the bus;
  • Regular and effective hand washing and/or sterilization;
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces at least once a day.

Enhanced safety measures

  • Continue to confirm the completion of Daily Health Checklist or use K is 12 Health Check;
  • continue to stay home when sick or have symptoms;
  • Continuing to maintain a personally respectful space between individuals;
  • Continue to wear a mask while in schools and on the bus;
  • Continuing to wash hands and/or sanitize them regularly and effectively;
  • continue to clean and disinfect surfaces at least once a day;
  • School events and gatherings will be virtual;
  • Adult-only meetings (for example, staff meetings) will be virtual, whenever possible;
  • Visitors to the school will be limited to those who provide a direct benefit to students’ education and welfare (eg, nominated teachers, meal program volunteers, etc.);
  • Spectators are not permitted at school events, including sporting events;
  • Classrooms in schools will be reconfigured to increase the amount of personal space available;
  • Break times will be staggered and students will use outdoor classroom doors to reduce crowding in corridors and common spaces during transition and break times;
  • Restrict food sharing among students.

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