Students across Greater Victoria head back to the classroom on Monday, Jan. 10. (Black Press Media file photo)

Students across Greater Victoria head back to the classroom on Monday, Jan. 10. (Black Press Media file photo)

Greater Victoria school districts welcome back students, prep for potential closures

Schools to pivot to remote/online learning if health or functional closures occur

Grade school students across Greater Victoria head back to classes Monday with the caveat schools could close.

The Sooke, Saanich and Greater Victoria school districts are welcoming back all students on Jan. 10 following a delayed full return after the Christmas break due to the Omicron variant’s spread.

Last week, district staff were planning for the “continuity of learning and reinforcing health and safety measures to provide a safe return for all K-12 students on Monday,” Deb Whitten, SD61 interim superintendent said in a statement. “Together we are implementing new protocols and preparing for challenges that the Omicron variant may present, including the possibility of school closure.”

In the event of a school closure, schools will pivot to remote/online at-home learning. Whitten noted SD61 is working on supports for children with disabilities and exceptional needs.

Different types of school closures can occur.

A health closure of a school is determined by Island Health due to the possibility of a high COVID-19 case count in a school. The health authority will direct the district to temporarily close a school, resulting in a temporary move to remote/online learning for all students.

A functional school closure is determined by the district due to a lack of staff to provide the required level of teaching, supervision, support and/or custodial care. If this happens, the district will close the school for a minimum of one week and classes will shift to remote/online learning with teachers contacting families on the first day of the closure about online programming.

“We have been informed by Island Health that contract tracing as we have known it is no longer effective with the Omicron variant due to a short incubation stage, changes to transmission rates and self-testing,” Whitten said in the statement. “As such, we are aware that changes are coming to the contract tracing and notification process.”

Whitten reiterated it is very important for staff and students to stay home if they are feeling unwell.

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