A picture of the construction taken in May. (Contributed)

c’usqunela elementary opening delayed

Students and teachers will be hosted by different SD42 schools in east Maple Ridge

The opening of c’usqunela elementary is being delayed until Sept. 25.

Jon Wheatley, principal of the new school, said in an Aug. 16 news release, that although the final phase of construction at the school is nearing completion, testing of the building’s mechanical systems will require an additional three weeks.

“In the interest of student and staff safety, it is important that this testing be completed before the facility officially opens,” Wheatley said.

Come Sept. 3, c’usqunela students and their teachers will begin the school year at different schools in the eastern part of the district.

RELATED: New PAC for c’usqunela elementary in Maple Ridge

Grades 1 to 3 will be at Webster’s Corners elementary, Grades 4 to 7 at Albion elementary, and kindergarten students at Blue Mountain elementary and Kanaka elementary, depending on who their assigned teacher is.

Free busing services between Albion and Webster’s Corners elementary will be provided for families who live in the Albion area or who have children at two of the alternative school sites.

During this period, the school district also will be providing a “soft-start,” allowing parents or guardians to drop off their children at the host school starting at 8:15 a.m., where c’usqunela staff will be on site to provide supervision.

RELATED: Name announced for new Maple Ridge school

Following the district-wide non-instructional day on Sept. 23, the school district will be adding Sept. 24 as a transition day for c’usqunela elementary in order to allow staff to set up classrooms.

First day for c’usqunela elementary students will be Sept. 25.

Wheatley said that they’ve known since the beginning of construction that there was a potential for the opening to be delayed and they were always working on the best case scenario with a contingency plan.

“We got very close. We’re out by 14 school days and I know the contractor was pushing as hard as he could to get us in there,” said Wheatley.

“In the end, there were just too many things with mechanical start-ups and things where they just couldn’t do it safely.”

Wheatley found out two weeks ago about the delay and says that although it would have been wonderful to start from day one in a brand new school, he’s not completely disappointed.

On the positive side, he said, they are going to be able to focus on building relationships without worrying about setting up a school. So when the students move into the new school they will already be connected with teaching staff and their routine will already be set up.

“So, in some ways, having sort of two steps to move in, we may find it’s beneficial. We’ve got the relationships established and then we are just moving into the space,” he said.

Wheatley is confident that Sept. 25 will be move-in day and that there will be no further setbacks.

“That was a question I asked when we did our planning meeting about a week ago. I said I don’t want to be in a situation where we’re telling our school community that this is the day and then having people disappointed,” explained Wheatley. He was told in turn, that “unless something catastrophic happens”, the new move-in day will not be postponed.

Wheatley thanked parents, teachers and students for their patience and understanding.

He reminded families that once the school opens, construction on the adjacent Albion Community Centre site will continue. The community centre is scheduled to open late 2020.

“We have already created an active school community during our special events and PAC meetings, and I look forward to celebrating the school opening with all of you,” he wrote.

Anyone needing the Albion busing services are being asked to contact Tara Mckay at tara_mckay@sd42.ca for a complimentary busing application form.

Further questions can be directed to cqe_reception@sd42.ca.

The name c’usqunela means, “Where the golden eagles gather,” and is written in the International Phonetic Alphabet.


 

cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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