The Sea to Sky School District — which encompasses Squamish schools — says that it has been developing online learning plans in anticipation of the province’s announcement to suspend K to 12 classes until further notice.
“Our online learning teachers have been proactively initiating plans to support students ahead of today’s announcement,” Supt. Lisa McCullough told The Chief on March 17.
She added the school district will be teleconferencing with provincial authorities to provide plans for online learning.
“Our highest priority will be students in Grade 12, followed by those in Grades 11 and 10, who
make up our Graduation Program,” said McCullough in a written statement.
“Our next priority will be our middle years students and the younger intermediate students (Grades 4-9). Plans are also being made to provide our K to 3 parents with ways to support ongoing literacy and numeracy development during school closures, including links on our website.”
Custodial and maintenance staff will still be working, she added.
The school district will continue to take direction from the province and the public health officer, she added.
The school district will be giving updates as things move forward.
Earlier that day, authorities said that schools in Squamish and throughout the province will be shut down until further notice, as part of sweeping new measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Premier John Horgan announced on March 17 that kindergarten to Grade 12 classes will be suspended. This order also is being directed towards private schools.
“A difficult decision has been made,” said Horgan.
This comes after the province enacted measures to limit public gatherings and cancel events.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said graduation assessments will be postponed, but those eligible to graduate this year will be able to do so.
Every student will receive a final mark, and all students on track to move to the next grade will do so, Fleming said.
However, he added Grade 10 and 11 graduation assessments will be postponed.
Horgan said childcare services located in schools will still remain open, but he noted the situation could change.
Families should start making plans in case those services become unavailable, he said.
Fleming said childcare services can still be open in schools, as the grounds are largely empty without students.
In the meantime, Fleming said that the province is exploring the idea of using online education as a way to keep students learning.
He acknowledged closing the schools could affect vulnerable children, such as those on meal programs.
Fleming said that the province will be working with school districts to address those issues.
“We don’t have all the answers today — we are in a fast-moving situation,” he said.
*Please note, this story has been updated and may be again, as new quotes and information is gathered.