This empty playground at Hume School in Nelson will packed with students once again when classes begin Sept. 10. Photo: Tyler Harper

This empty playground at Hume School in Nelson will packed with students once again when classes begin Sept. 10. Photo: Tyler Harper

School District 8 releases back-to-school plan

The district has had its COVID-19 protocols approved by the education ministry

School District 8 has released its back-to-school plan after it was approved by the education ministry this week.

The document, which can be read in full at the bottom of this story, lays out COVID-19 safety protocols for the district’s 22 schools, including what parents can expect for their students when classes begin Sept. 10.

Superintendent Christine Perkins said the plan offers the opportunity for full-time, in-class learning for the entire academic year.

“Our ultimate goal is to maximize the number of students and teachers as possible and to make our schools warm and welcoming and that we’re excited,” said Perkins. “We’re excited to have them back.”

Although schools will be full, students will be divided into what are called learning groups meant to limit interactions. Elementary schools and Trafalgar Middle School, for example, will have learning groups of 60 students. Secondary schools such a L.V. Rogers meanwhile have expanded learning groups of 120 students.

When parents drop their children off at school, they’ll find staff directing them to different areas where their learning group will be. From there, the students will be shown how to line up and enter the building.

SD8 previously opened classes in June, which served as a trial run for the fall. Perkins said one of the takeaways was how young students adapted to new protocols.

“They learned super fast through the process,” she said. “They can teach all of us about the hygiene procedures and things like that. But for those who did not come back, that’s why we go very systematically through the process to make sure that we catch them up to what they’re supposed to do at their own school.”

Students can also expect to wash their hands a lot more than they ever have.

Hands will be sanitized when students arrive at the school and before exiting the building, before and after breaks and meals, whenever they enter a different learning environment like a gym or a library, and when they use shared supplies or equipment. That’s in addition to the usual hygiene following bathroom breaks or when coughing into their hands.

Masks will also be required for staff and middle school and secondary school students in busy areas like hallways or on the bus. Perkins said the district is encouraging students to bring their own masks, but two reusable masks will also be provided to staff and students.

Students won’t have to wear masks in the classroom if they prefer, and desks won’t necessarily be spread apart either.

That’s because the learning groups operate essentially as bubbles, which means as long as students stay within their group the rules are slightly relaxed.

Perkins added the number of people in a learning group can be higher than the 50-person limit set by the province because the personal and custodial maintenance will be more routine in the school. The plan, for example, calls for frequently touched surfaces to be disinfected at least twice a day and once during school hours.

“Once you’re in your bubble, it’s like being home in your family. It’s going to be a very safe space,” said Perkins.

The downside of the learning group system is it scraps the possibility of most school-wide and interschool events. Sports can happen within learning groups, Perkins said, but competitions between school teams are out. Other activities like band and choir can occur with students from different groups, but only if they are distanced.

Some schools will also have their own unique protocols.

Jewett Elementary, for example, can hold events like assemblies because their student populations are under the limit.

L.V. Rogers, the district’s most populous school, will have what Perkins calls the one-in-five system, or students taking one class for five weeks before moving onto a different subject. That, she said, will help limit students from having to change classrooms multiple times in a day.

The district has also provided options for parents and students who aren’t comfortable returning to brick-and-mortar buildings.

The Elev8 program offers online learning for kindergarten to Grade 12 students. Parents need to register first for the program, which they can do online at The program has its own certified teachers, and educational assistant supports for students also continues if they opt for the Elev8 program.

Students can also register as homeschooled, which has seen a rise in interest from parents since the lockdown.

Related: From classroom to the living room: Nelson homeschooler has advice for parents

It’s not clear though if parents or students will find out if another student or staff member is infected by COVID-19.

Perkins said under that scenario the district takes direction from Interior Health, which decides how, or if, the public is notified. Interior Health typically does not announce single cases of COVID-19.

She added parents can speak with their school principals if they have any specific questions before the classes reopen.

“A lot of it is anxiety. People are worried and scared and we want to reassure them that we’ve got everything ready for them,” said Perkins. “We’re more than prepared on the safety and health side and we value the relationships we do have with the kids and we want them back.”

@tyler_harper |

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

School District 8 Stage 2 Back to School Plan by Tyler Harper on Scribd


Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

The signs at the three entrances to Nelson were designed and carved by the late Art Waldie in 1968 and then replicated and replaced in 2001. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s welcome signs: have your say on the new design

Online ThoughtExchange process gathers opinions and sorts for common themes

Nelson’s Soundserious perform online May 15. Photo: Submitted
Nelson’s Soundserious want you to lighten up

The trio streams original music from the Capitol Theatre on May 15

Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson. Photo: Tyler Harper
NEWS AND VIEWS: Nelson’s Chamber helps businesses connect with new talent

Tom Thomson writes about an event scheduled for May 20

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

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

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Most Read