Board of Education Report
Following are some items that were discussed at the School District Board of Education meeting held on October 28, 2020.
There is no doubt that the current global pandemic of COVID-19 has had an effect on education in British Columbia, and School District No. 53 is no exception. We currently have 151 ‘transition students’ which is slightly down from the original 155. Transition students are students from families who were hesitant to send their children to school under the current pandemic for a variety of reasons, but plan to return at some point if and when they are more comfortable. The district has hired 2.4 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers along with existing staff at YouLearn to support these students and families. However, some students find this type of setting difficult to engage and experience success and we are regularly and closely monitoring their progress.
Staff reported that it is a difficult time right now for children and youth who participate in school sports with the current Ministry and CDC guidelines that schools and districts must operate under, including the need to social distance if outside their learning group. Schools are making their best efforts to bring some form of team and intramural sports to students under these conditions, but inter-school play is not allowed across BC. However, BC School Sports is asking that their return to sport guidelines be reviewed by the CDC and there is a committee table formed, which includes the Ministry of Education, to see if the guidelines for community and school sports can be more aligned.
Staff also reported that we have had a busy start up to our career programs under the impact of COVID-19 with students enrolled in Work Experience, Youth Work in Trades, and Youth Train in Trades. Our Youth Train in Trades numbers are similar to those in past years. All post-secondary training providers are operating under extremely different protocols than the public-school system. As we are operating at full capacity, the post-secondary systems are providing instruction to significantly smaller classes online along with limited face-to-face offerings in the lab setting.
We will again be offering the Gateway to Technology program in partnership with Okanagan College this year. This program was very successful and we have received very positive feedback from the students who participated last year. This program will run two evenings per week and will be offered entirely on-line so that students can participate from home. In this program students will get exposure to computer coding, web development, and other aspects of computer technology. We are limited to 10 seats this year for our students as the cohort is comprised of students from SD No. 53 and SD No. 67. Tuition for the program will be paid for students through the Dual Credit funding, and therefore no cost to students.
This will be the first time that we will be offering the Professional Cook program two years in a row. We have a full class. The College is willing and able to provide the program. Currently, we have students from all secondary schools in the district enrolling in the program.
The opening of schools under COVID-19 protocols has provided many challenges, but we are extremely pleased with the progress of our career education programs. The hard work of all staff in the district and our community partners is making an extremely positive impact on our students.
Rob Zandee, Chairperson
School District No. 53 (Okanagan Similkameen)