Langley School District’s board office. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley School District’s board office. (Langley Advance Times files)

Return to schools a big challenge for Langley, board hears

The district is looking at a partial return by June “at best”

The Langley school board got an update last week on the nitty-gritty of the challenges the district will face, if and when it begins opening classrooms again.

“Maybe” is the key word in getting back to class by mid-May noted Gord Stewart, the superintendent of schools, at the April 21 meeting, which was held remotely via Microsoft Teams.

He offered a list of considerations Langley and other districts are looking at before classes resume:

• What grade levels will be involved?

• Will there be shifts of students?

• How will students be transported?

• How can the district maintain cleaning standards?

• How will primary students maintain physical distance?

• How will access to buildings be handled?

• Will there be public confidence?

Stewart said that if schools were to suddenly open now, many parents would simply say no.

“Are they safe? We haven’t demonstrated that,” he said.

There are issues with running classes in shifts to reduce the numbers.

“Many parents communicated to me they don’t like half-days,” Stewart said.

Right now, with five sites open for just under 100 children of essential workers, staff can clean and sanitize well, the superintendent said. But what happens when there are 43 locations open.

Then there’s the issue of keeping very young children from getting too close.

“Physical distancing – how many kindergartners and Grade 1s are going to be able to stay away from each other?” Stewart said. “They like being around each other and crowding each other and touching each other.”

Stewart did not expect that schools will resume normal operations by the end of the current school year.

“You’ll be seeing some form of blended model, at best,” he said.

Despite these reservations, Stewart emphasized that learning has not stopped and will not stop.

“There will be a final grade issued for all of our kids, K through 12,” he said.

He also noted that the expected impact on international students – who contribute fees to the district – and on home sales taxes could seriously affect the local budget.

“Probably the most challenging budget that you’ve faced, and that I’ve faced,” Stewart said.

Schools are well-stocked with cleaning supplies and even hand sanitizer, with enough until the summer at least.

Trustees had questions about the impact of the unprecedented shutdown.

“I’m specifically concerned about the Grade 12 students,” said Trustee Shelley Coburn. “Learning calculus 12 online is a far cry from learning it in a classroom.”

That is why Grade 12s are one of the groups the province and district are looking at bringing back soonest, Stewart said.

Getting them back in the classroom for six to seven weeks would be a big help, he noted.


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

Just Posted

Glitter is a plastic that gets into places it should not and is part of the growing micro-plastics environmental problem. (Wikimedia Commons)
LETTER: Give gifts that stand the test of time, Langley student suggests

A school assignment got a local student thinking about the enviromental impacts of gift giving

Douglas Park Community Elementary administrative assistant Kim Langford has been instrumental in the school’s food programs and event takes extra food out into the community, feeding local street people. To prevent waste, she also forged links with local farms which take excess food not suitable for people for their farm animals. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley City administrative assistant finds food builds bonds with students and families

Kim Langford used to work in banking and accounting. She finds a better rate of return in education

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judge ponders case of alleged conflict over Langley Township council donations

The mayor and two sitting councillors could be removed from office

Brookswood Starbucks manager Sonja Olsen posed for a photo on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 at the store located at 40th Avenue and 200 Street with some of the many cards for seniors her customers have filled out (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Christmas cards for seniors idea by Brookswood Starbucks takes off

Idea is to make the holidays a little less lonely for older people in care homes during pandemic

Readers enjoy the letters to Santa from local children. Here’s one from a previous Christmas. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley’s community newspaper wants local kids letters to Santa

Children’s letters to the St. Nick could be featured in our annual special Christmas section

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read