Valley View Elementary has students use traffic markers to let others know if there is space in the washrooms. Photo supplied

Valley View Elementary has students use traffic markers to let others know if there is space in the washrooms. Photo supplied

Inside schools: principals say staff is finding ways to adjust to classroom learning

COVID-19-related measures include cohorts, cleaning, even markers for washroom use

For school principals, the start-up this fall to set up schools for students again has for the most part gone smoothly.

Sean Lamoureaux, principal of Mark R. Isfeld Secondary in the Comox Valley, said this has required the efforts of everyone, including administrators and teachers. As an example, he noted IT staff’s adjustments to allow teachers to adapt from the four-course, semester system to one that has them teaching two different classes a day. Likewise, maintenance staff have made the adjustments on site, such as adding a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system at the school, as well as adding sinks or hand sanitizer stations.

“It didn’t matter what we were asking for, as long as it was making our school safe, they got it done for us,” he said.

RELATED: High school in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 exposure

RELATED: Vancouver Island back to school: a student’s perspective

Lamoureaux also noted the work of health and safety staff to establish a template for procedures during the pandemic, and it is now being used by many school districts.

“It gave me the confidence to deal with anything,” he added.

He also gave credit to custodians for their extra efforts and to administrative assistants.

“They were our front line to deal with every phone call,” he said.

Life in general at the school is different, from staggered lunchtimes to social distancing and cohorts of students. The library has been modified, as have spaces for computer, food or textile classes. In one computer class, a teacher has even designed a way he could roll his laptop around the class, so he could help students but still keep a safe distance.

Fire drills are done by cohorts, and school events such as the Terry Fox Run or Remembrance Day celebrations have to be done in smaller groups or using technology.

Nearby, at Valley View Elementary School, principal Katy Doran has found many of the same things.

“Things do look a little bit different,” she told trustees.

From talking with staff, she has heard things are busy, though life at the school has been quieter. For example, instead of students crowding the hallways, they are using external doors to classrooms. There are additions for safety such as the hand-washing stations and more custodian time, but the school has brought in a system so students know if washrooms are in use. With washrooms limited to two at a time, the school has students move a traffic marker outside the washroom to one spot while they’re using the facility, then move it back once done.

One thing that has been a challenge has been the fact that school-wide events have been missing, but Valley View has come up with activities to foster school spirit such as a large “connection to nature” puzzle in the hall for students to assemble.

Doran also asked students about whether they preferred online or in-class schooling. While a few preferred classes through computers, most liked in-school classes better.

“They’re all very, very happy to be back at school,” she told the board.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


The students at Valley View have been working on a large puzzle in the hall to help create a sense of community at the school. Photo supplied

The students at Valley View have been working on a large puzzle in the hall to help create a sense of community at the school. Photo supplied

Just Posted

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Victoria police were called to a single-vehicle crash shortly before 3 a.m. Nov. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
Driver dies after fiery early morning crash in Vic West

The driver was the sole occupant of the single-vehicle crash involving a hydro pole

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Campbell River city council recently held a roundtable meeting with leaders from the aquaculture and forestry industries to discuss how they can be part of a post-COVID economic recovery in the region.
North Island officials holding roundtable on aquaculture, forestry

Will go forward with quarterly meetings involving industry leaders to address issues in the sectors

West Shore RCMP arrested four suspects in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in View Royal Nov. 26. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP arrests four following armed robbery

A victim was assaulted and robbed in View Royal early Thursday morning

These boards were delivered to Brooklyn Elementary before being stolen this fall. Facebook photo
Vandalism damage at Comox Valley schools way up this year

The amount in 2020/21 is already 50 per cent higher than the previous year

Some parents are concerned with the plans of the Cowichan Valley school district to drop one of its distance-learning options. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley parents upset with loss of remote learning program

School district says program being redesigned

Most Read