A Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district school bus. (News Bulletin file photo)

A Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district school bus. (News Bulletin file photo)

High school students in Nanaimo-Ladysmith will take two classes each day

First day of school for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School students is Sept. 10

While elementary school students shouldn’t see many changes as the 2020-21 school year starts, education will be different for secondary students, says Nanaimo Ladysmith school district’s superintendent.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Education, school districts are required to post their COVID-19-conscious back-to-school plans online by today, Aug. 26 and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools says it will offer in-class instruction, remote learning and support for home-schooling. In a post on YouTube last Friday, Scott Saywell, school district superintendent and CEO, said high school students won’t be on the semester system.

The ministry previously announced that students would receive instruction in learning groups, or cohorts, with a maximum of 60 students for elementary and 120 for secondary.

RELATED: B.C. gov’t approves 60 school district pandemic plans

In the social media post, Saywell said the semester system wouldn’t allow for secondary students learning groups under 120 students. The school district would prefer flexibility in moving in and out of various provincial COVID-19 stages as the threat grows and shrinks.

Instead, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, like most other school districts in the province, will be moving to a ‘quarterly’ system that will see students taking two classes at a time over 10 weeks, four times during the school year. There will be one class in the morning and another in the afternoon.

“That’ll run for 10 times a week and then they will shift into the next two classes and of course, that will happen four times over the year, so that students can get their full complement of eight courses,” Saywell said.

According to the district restart plan document, secondary students will see break time and time in-between classes staggered “based on grade level and 120 learning group numbers.”

RELATED: SD68 navigating back-to-school uncertainty

Because of the way the district is typically set up around elementary and middle school classrooms, which include fewer than 30 students, Saywell said younger students “won’t see much change when they return to school.”

The district recently received $1 million in funding from the ministry to ensure schools across the district are safe, said Saywell, and a majority of that will go towards hiring custodial staff, as well as cleaning supplies and a personal protective equipment for students and teachers, with 35,500 reusable masks and 15,000 disposable masks ordered by the district. Students can also bring their own masks.

Masks will be a requirement of all secondary staff and students in high-traffic areas, such as hallways and school buses or areas where safe distancing cannot be achieved, according to the restart plan. Elementary students will not be required to wear a mask, but can if they desire.

Denise Wood, Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union president, told the News Bulletin she is concerned for elementary school students as she said there are no protections other than hand-washing.

“They have an idea that the cohort system is going to protect people from catching the virus and that’s not what the cohort system does,” said Wood. “What [it] does is allow for easier contact tracing because if someone should get sick, then theoretically, they’ve only had contact with the people in their cohort … if I am a family, and I have two students who go to school, they’re going to be in different cohorts, chances are. So those kids aren’t physically distancing when they leave the school. If I’m a high school student and I have a girlfriend or boyfriend or even another close friend that’s not in my cohort, chances are those kids are not physically distancing when they leave school. It’s a flawed system.”

Students will be seated one per seat on school buses, although students from the same household can share if buses are crowded.

RELATED: SD68 students to return to school full-time in ‘learning groups’

Dale Burgos, school district spokesperson, said there are opportunities for families to use distributed learning via the district’s Island ConnectEd program. Saywell said the district won’t limit the number of students choosing distributed learning.

Wood is worried for distance education teachers, as she said there are no workload limits.

“The district is under no obligation to hire more teachers for distributed learning and that’s going to be be problem because kids in DL don’t count for funding until they have completed a certain percentage of the course…” she said. “So I predict that students are not going to get the level of service that they’re hoping to from DL because the staffing certainly won’t be there in the beginning.”

The first day of school for students, originally scheduled for Sept. 8, has been pushed back to Sept. 10 and 11, said the superintendent, to allow staff time to become acclimatized to safety procedures.

“They’ll be getting their timetables and learning about all the new health and safety protocols at that time,” Saywell said.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Education

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

Just Posted

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

A person experiencing homelessness in downtown Nanaimo last week. (News Bulletin photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change approach to combatting homelessness

Letter writers express frustration with status quo

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Nanaimo area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Concerned Island school bus driver says people still pass while red lights flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Most Read