School options expand

Dear Parents and Guardians,

With the first days of school coming, we would like to welcome all of you back and give a quick update on our revised options for schooling. It has been a long summer for everyone, and for many of our students, it has been almost six months since they have set foot in a classroom. Please be assured that our staff have gone above and beyond in preparing our schools for the return of regular learning, and that we are excited to welcome our students back later this week.

 With regard to schooling options, parents are always encouraged to have their students attend their neighbourhood school. Extensive planning has gone into making our schools safe in this context, and this option is by far the richest environment for most students to develop their academic and social skills. Please reach out to your school if you need to know more about what it will look like for your child this September.

SD83 assembly line building plexiglass barriers for our schools
Pails and pails of sanitizer for our schools

We recognize that while most parents agree that attending their neighbourhood school in person is the best option, some have indicated that they are still uncomfortable sending their students to us on opening day. The Ministry of Education has temporarily softened our standard enrollment process to support families who wish to delay their start by a number of weeks but still retain their child’s seat in class. Again, you may reach out to your school for more information on our new “Soft Start” option.

A number of parents have also indicated that they would like to register their students in an online program. In addition to our existing Education Outreach Program (EOP) for high school students, we have recently reopened our kindergarten through grade eight program and are in the process of registering new students. As our staffing model is dependent on student registration, students departing our district for other options may cause the number of available seats in our schools to be reduced. However, the Ministry has just confirmed that we can use the recently announced federal grant money to help staff our growing online program, which will help us keep seats available in our neighbourhood schools for students who plan to return in this school year.
 
Some students in grades ten through twelve have indicated an interest in enrolling in a combination of online and in-person schoolings. This practice has been permitted in the past and will continue to be an option in our current context. However, students in kindergarten through grade nine will have to choose between online or in-person schooling and participate in that program full-time. The same goes for families who pursue a homeschool option. Students in grades eight and nine who are enrolled full-time at their high school may consider enrolling in an additional on-line course as they would before. 

At this point, we do not have the qualified staffing available to offer French Immersion through our EOP. Our staff is reaching out to other districts to see if there is space available in their programs, and if we are able to place our students with other programs temporarily, we will hold a seat in their home school as we would with our other EOP students.

If you have learned everything you need to know about online learning and still wish to register, please let your school know about your decision and they will support you with next steps. If you wish to know more about our district EOP, please contact the program principal Mr. Rob Macaulay at rmacaula@sd83.bc.ca

Again, we will continue to encourage students to attend their local school, as we believe that is the best option for the vast majority of students. We hope that you will agree and we look forward to seeing you in the coming days. 

Sincerely,
Peter Jory,
Superintendent of Schools/CEO
School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap)