Back-to-school time during a pandemic is not like other years. (Black Press files)

It’s a nervous week returning to school during pandemic

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows teachers and parents have concerns

“Nervous” is the word for the start of this school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re all nervous, I won’t lie,” said Trevor Takasaki, president of the Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association (MRTA).

But he added the union and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School district have been planning for the re-opening all summer, and added “We’re doing better than a lot of districts.”

“It’s a nervous week,” echoed Eugene Javier, chair of the district parent advisory council (DPAC). “But we’ve prepared as far as we can go.”

Takasaki said teachers have their worries, and social distancing is among them. They would have preferred to see school density at the same levels as during spring, when students did not attend every day, and classes were generally half full.

“There is no way in a regular classroom kids can sit two metres from each other,” he said. “You would need a cafeteria.”

But the province has allowed for all students to come back this week.

Schools with enough space could hire more teachers to have smaller classes. The BC Teachers’ Federation has been pushing for the hiring of more teachers, using over $242 million in federal assistance. However, Takasaki pointed out there is still a teachers shortage in the province, and districts are scrambling to find staff.

This district will allow graduate return for some students, with support online. But again, more staff will be needed to provide the online learning.

He sees the graduated return as a boon to district parents and students who are nervous. It allows students to be at home, but maintain a relationship with a teacher. He notes some districts aren’t offering it, but it gives SD42 parents some flexibility.

“It’s not a one-size or nothing.”

He noted online teaching is also a benefit for teachers who have serious medical conditions.

“Without it, some teachers would choose not to work this year.”

Teachers would like to be able to determine when students should wear masks, but the Education Ministry has already set the standards. Staff and students at high schools will be required to wear them in high traffic areas, including hallways and on buses.

“Limitations are at the provincial level,” he said.

READ MORE: SD42 superintendent provides back to school info

The DPAC executive met this week, and there were mixed feelings, said Javier.

Parents would like to see more opportunities for gradual re-entry into the school system, with online supports.

They too worry about social distancing.

Javier said he has tried to teach his own children about social distancing with limited success, and said it will be up to teachers to drive these messages home, using markings on floors and signage to drive the important messages about COVID-19 home.

“The first month is really going to be about health and safety.”

READ ALSO: B.C.’s post-pandemic economy to recover in 2022, economists say

Seeing the board’s plans, and the level of detail, has him personally reassured, said Javier.

“This is brand new. We’re not feeling 100 per cent confident, but we have to move forward.”

Educators returned to school on Sept. 8 and 9, with students scheduled to go back on Sept. 10.


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

backtoschoolCoronavirusmaple ridgePitt Meadows

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

Just Posted

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

LETTER: Keeping Canada-U.S. borders closed is issue of safety, not bigotry

Only walls Trump deserves come in a set of four, and are found in a prison or institution: Reader

LETTER: CERB is simply worsening overdose issues in Maple Ridge

Taxpayer money is going to help buy more drugs and increase cases of death on local streets: Reader

Ridge Meadows Soccer welcomes former Whitecaps coach to club

Craig Dalrymple will join organization as new sporting director

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Most Read