Vancouver Island students return to school with safety measures in place

Vancouver Island students return to school with safety measures in place

The school year is officially underway in British Columbia.

Many students and their parents are happy to be back at Ecole Pauline Haarer School, pleased with the safety measures in place.

Andrea L’Heureux-Maki’s son is starting grade five.

“I feel like they are doing the best that they can. I think that going back to school is so important for these kids,” she said.

With two children in grades five and seven, Amber Turner feels confident everything has been done to ensure the safety of her children.

“It seems comprehensive. And that there is good direction given from the Ministry of Education down to the school districts. And the school superintendent has put out lots of information. We’re feeling fairly good that everyone is on top of it,” said Turner.

At Victoria’s Sir James Douglas Elementary, principal Murray Harris said the students are happy to be back.

“It’s the first day of school, which is pretty exciting. And it looks a lot like our first day of school last year, too though, in a lot of ways with the masks, and being a bit more careful.”

The differences will be felt inside the classrooms.

Cohorts are gone, and physical distancing is no longer required.

A limited number of volunteers will be allowed back.

Masks are required for students in grades four to twelve, and all staff from K-12.

The school’s vice-principal, Cheryl Rolston, says safety is the main concern.

“As we know, the kids in school can’t vaccinate yet. So we want to reassure everybody that that is our main concern right now.”

For parents worried about COVID-19 exposures, measures will remain in place, according to the Interim Superintendent of the Greater Victoria School District, Deb Whitten.

“We’ll continue with contact tracing, and working with Island Health. They really guide our process, and we take our guidance from them. Obviously, we’ll let the people who need to know, know. We’ll forward in that. Fortunately, last year we didn’t have a lot. And we hope the same for this year.”

Meanwhile, Turner and L’Heureux-Maki feel confident in all the measures aimed at keeping children, and staff safe.

“As far as the direction that it’s going to go I think as long as we are following the provincial health officer’s directions, it really couldn’t be any better.”

“I 100-percent appreciate it.  It’s not easy to set this up for the teachers safety. But I think that it’s a good plan.”

Students should be back in full-time classes by Monday of next week.

Island Health issued a statement on the number of children admitted to hospital during the pandemic:

“From March 2020 to Sept 6, 2021, there have been 771 cases 12 and under (11% of all COVID cases within Island Health). Only 1 case in this age group has been admitted to hospital with COVID.”

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