SD61 provides school care for essential service workers amid COVID-19

SD61 provides school care for essential service workers amid COVID-19
Greater Victoria School District
The GVSD's new school care program allows for families with essential service workers to have free in-class school care

The Greater Victoria School District is making life a little easier for parents who are also essential service workers, by providing a new school care program to provide in-class learning in a safe, social distancing manner amid the pandemic.

School care services are being provided for school-aged children from 5 to 12 years old. The program operates at 13 schools across the CRD, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The program is designed to help parents with not only childcare, but education as well, as students are learning from home after all schools in B.C. suspended K-12 classes.

Each individual student has a unique schedule, to correlate with their parent’s working hours.

The District (SD61) worked with B.C.’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education’s guidelines to make sure all provincial rules are followed. Desks are metres apart, activities modified and the numbers in classes are significantly curtailed.

A classroom in marigold elementary provided school care for three students

At Marigold Elementary, this class only has three students, all spaced out to follow social-distancing rules / GVSD

One class in Marigold Elementary only had three students.

“There were three students, all of different grade levels,” explained Lisa Mcphail, a community engagement member of the school district.

“There was a boy in grade one, and he was asked to draw what he thought a specific sentence meant. For the older kids in the class, the teacher adapted the activity for their learning level,” McPhail told CHEK News.

The program prioritizes families who are “tier-one” service workers, like health services, emergency responders and law enforcement. The school program has been in full operation for two weeks, and 80 children are currently registered.

“We need to support our frontline workers as they continue to protect us and maintain essential services that keep our community functioning,” said Superintendent Shelley Green. “Our schools are open to serve the families whose parents or guardians are in critical roles—and we are putting forward every effort to ensure these students have a safe and positive experience in our care.”

To find out how best to run the program, the District conducted an online survey to hear what parents are needing, and how many need this extra care and created the program based on the needs of the community.

“District staff have gone above and beyond to get this program up and running in such short order,” said Board Chair Jordan Watters. “A big kudos to the Educational Assistants who are stepping forward to care for our students in this challenging time and our custodians who are keeping our buildings clean and safe. The level of commitment our staff has shown toward students and families is impressive and we are proud of the service they are providing.”

The program also includes active activities like a distanced bike ride in the morning, chalk drawing on the pavement and educational projects.

“It’s really cool. Kids are doing more hands-on projects. The kids are planting seeds and learning how to care for them, and using butterfly larvae, trying to incorporate more scientific projects,” said McPhail.

SD61 anticipates the demand for services will increase. If you are an essential service worker and still require childcare for your child, the District is asking you to contact them at [email protected].

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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