SD67 Chair James Palanio says they are not expecting an delays in graduation, that online leaning is up and running, and that they worked with local unions to ensure those who must continue going to schools are staying safe while doing so. (Phil McLachlan - Western News - File)

SD67 reflects on school year amid COVID-19, speaks to graduation of seniors

Online learning is up and running, and school district chair says it’s “rolling along well”

High school seniors in School District 67 who were on track to graduate before the COVID-19 pandemic began are still set to do so, however their graduation ceremonies will likely look a little less traditional.

The school district is not expecting time delays for graduation, but isn’t yet sure what it will look like. SD67 Chair James Palanio said they understand the Ministry of Education is assessing this, and said the school district will follow their lead.

He said he understands the concerns of those in their final year.

“It’s unfortunate, you spent 14 years getting to this point, and the class of 2020 will not get as much of a remembrance,” he said. “Or maybe, it will be remembered more.”

The Western News previously reported near the end of spring break that uncertainty surrounded the remainder of the school year.

READ MORE: Questions remain regarding remainder of SD67 school year

Palanio said they have since been working to provide educational opportunities for their students, while schools remain closed to most. They have also been working on how to support vulnerable students, as well as support the needs of the children of essential service workers, who continue to work amid uncertain times.

Two SD67 schools, Uplands Elementary School and Trout Creek School, are supporting Tier 1 workers and will accommodate in-person learning for students, if necessary.

Palanio said the number of students in these schools fluctuates and changes day-to-day, depending on the need. On average, he said fewer than a few dozen students per day, per school, use this service. And, he said, visits are staggered.

For those who have to still go into the schools, Palanio said they have been working to ensure those people are safe while doing so. The school district set this up in collaboration with local unions, to ensure staff remain safe, as well as the students. He said they are regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces including doors, and photocopiers.

“We’re following all the measures that the provincial health officer has laid out, and the ministry has laid out. We’re doing the deep cleaning on a regular basis when people leave rooms, and the distancing is being adhered to as well,” he said.

Online learning is up and running, and Palanio shared, from personal experience, how this has been work for his two children.

He said one of his children, in Grade 9, has been receiving continuous emails and has been participating in live webinars. For his younger child in Grade 5, things are a little different. The focus for younger student is literacy, reading and math. Online interactions have also been set up for them.

Palanio anticipates it’s different for every grade.

“It seems to be rolling along quite well,” he said, later adding, “I haven’t heard of anybody who’s not connected in some way at this point.”

The school district will be holding a virtual regular board meeting on Monday, April 27, and Palanio encouraged locals to check their agenda online prior to the meeting and submit questions, if they have any, to their administration department.

READ MORE: Okanagan outreach workers highlight opioid epidemic amid COVID-19

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