Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School in Nanaimo school district. (Submitted photo)

Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School in Nanaimo school district. (Submitted photo)

School district comes up with education choices during Snuneymuxw shelter-in-place

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools makes adjustments as First Nation combats COVID-19

Nanaimo school district is ensuring continuity of learning for students who can’t attend Snuneymuxw’s Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School during a COVID-19 shelter-in-place.

Snuneymuxw First Nation chief and council issued a 14-day shelter-in-place order Jan. 1, with members asked to leave home for emergencies and essential services only. As a result, Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School, overseen by both Snuneymuxw and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, won’t open its doors to students until conclusion of the order. Three options are being offered depending on needs of families, said Kevin Brand, school principal, at an SD68 education committee meeting Wednesday.

Students can learn at home at their own pace, at home with guided and online learning, or the old Woodbank school site is being offered to some students, according to Brand.

“One of the options that was new was this idea of in-person learning being reallocated for those families that currently live off-reserve, but attend our site,” said Brand. “Along with preparing Woodbank … we [were] fast-tracking site prep with custodial work, classroom setup etc. and [we met with staff] to go through the full COVID safety planning process…

“It’s going to be fairly seamless in terms of maintaining our existing route for families and then just diverting up the hill a little ways.”

Brand said the district wanted to prevent “lag time” that occurred last spring and reached out to families, with a learning package of supplies so that they can have a “universal starting point” regardless of how they wish to proceed.

Brand also said the district has connected with many Grade 5-7 families as it is utilizing “more of an online model with those students” and it wanted to make sure it has the proper amount of Chromebook laptops. The computers were scheduled to be distributed to both on- and off-reserve students this past week, he said.

In a letter posted to social media on Friday, Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse said there were a total of 21 active COVID-19 cases in the community with six individuals recovered. Since Thursday, 71 per cent of Snuneymuxw population living in the community had been vaccinated, Wyse said.

There are 110 Snuneymuxw students who reside on reservation, with 58 students at elementary school and 35 of those students at Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh and 52 at secondary schools, said Scott Saywell, superintendent and CEO, at the meeting.

RELATED: Wyse orders shelter-in-place for Snuneymuxw First Nation

RELATED: Snuneymuxw First Nation sees positive COVID-19 case


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