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School planning progressing

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Planning for the return of students to Mountain View School Division (MVSD) classrooms this fall is progressing well, says MVSD CEO/superintendent Dan Ward.
“We are consulting with a number of our larger schools in terms of what it will mean for scheduling and what kind of cohorting makes the most sense in each school,” he said.
“For some schools, they’re getting down into much more specific planning to determine what recess will look like, what the lunch hour will look like.”
Ward said information about the provincial requirements and a draft plan for MVSD’s 16 schools will be shared with trustees this week before being finalized.
“We are having a board meeting to review not only the provincial document, which we spent this past week reviewing as a divisional team, but also to look at a draft plan for our 16 schools,” Ward said.
“The MVSD plan will be published after it’s been approved, no later than Aug. 17.”
Ward said no stone is being left unturned in the planning phase to ensure the safety of staff and students when the bell rings on Sept. 8.
“We are looking at entrances and exits, we’re looking at potentially staggered classes, and, for larger schools, in terms of when they would arrive at school and how they enter school. We’re looking at certainly the potential of staggered start times, but nothing that would be significant like starting an hour later,” Ward said, adding transportation of students and their delivery at schools is demanding a lot of attention.
“And how that will work. In some cases there just might be slowing down of the process. If you have 20 children coming in from a bus, they can stick together. But if they come into a school and get into their classroom cohorts, it just might be that another bus that’s coming up into the bus loop might have to wait a few minutes so that we can get kids safely in and we can avoid cohorts mixing together.”
Information and support are also expected from outside organizations to aid in planning.
“There’s been questions around athletics and the potential suspension of athletics. And none of these decisions are made by individuals or even individual school divisions. They’re made by associations and organizations as they consult with public health,” Ward said.
“And so the board will be looking at a whole number of things to determine the best course going forward.”
As there are a lot of scenarios to consider, Ward expects school operations to evolve as time goes by
“We do our very best with the planning pieces that we have, but certainly we’ll learn more as school starts. And as questions come up, our response team will be addressing them as quickly as possible if we do run into challenges or problems,” he said.
“You can spend many, many weeks planning, but until the rubber hits the road, you’re not going to know of all of the unforeseen issues that may crop up. And we just have to be prepared to be responsive and flexible to manage under our new conditions and to always keep the safety of staff and students at the forefront.”