Tina Blandford says three of her children were happy to hear they won’t have to go to school on Monday and Tuesday.
Come Wednesday, though, it’ll likely be a different story.
On Friday, School District 83 announced that Parkview Elementary School in Sicamous, B.C., will be closed indefinitely due to a number of odour-related complaints.
The school district says it is trying to locate the source of the problem, believed to be in the school’s west wing, but, until it does, students attending Parkview will be reassigned to other schools.
According to the school district, students in kindergarten to grade 2 (divisions 6 to 9) will be reassigned to Eagle River Secondary. Students in grades 2 and 3 (divisions 4 to 5) will attend North Canoe in Salmon Arm, while students in grades 4-6 (divisions 1-3) will attend South Canoe, also in Salmon Arm.
The distance between Sicamous and Salmon Arm is approximately 30 kilometres.
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In announcing operations at Parkview will be suspended until further notice, the school district asked parents to keep their children at home on Monday and Tuesday. Student reassignment will start Wednesday.
“They were excited there was no school Monday and Tuesday, but I don’t think they really know how to feel about having to go further (for school),” said Sicamous resident Tina Blandford, who has five children, including three who attend Parkview Elementary.
“I don’t think they quite understand, just being in grades 2 and 4. I don’t think they fully understand the extent of actually having to move schools and go further.”
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Katrina Foster has four children, three of which attend Parkview. But come Wednesday, her four children will be attending four different schools.
Foster said the odour is concerning, adding “it’s very strange that they don’t know what it is. There’s a million guesses as to what it could be.”
Asked what her reaction was regarding the news that Parkview Elementary School will be indefinitely closed, Blandford said, “I didn’t know what to think.
“It’s going to be tough on all the parents, all the kids, especially the majority of the parents who actually don’t drive between Sicamous and Malakwa.”
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“Bus rides alone are tough for kids,” Blandford said. “School just started, so they’ve only been in school for three weeks and (they’re) adjusting to new teachers, new classrooms. And now they’re going to have to make an even bigger adjustment, and we don’t know for how long and what’s going to be permanent.
“It’s going to be hard to explain to the kids why they have to move schools and what’s wrong. A lot of them just don’t understand, and them having to move all over the place, too… it’s going to be super hard on them.”
The school district said letters have gone home to affected parents, and that a meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m., at Eagle River Secondary to answer any questions or concerns.
“A lot of parents, I think, are upset and are having a hard time understanding what’s going on because there wasn’t a lot of information given,” Foster said.
“It was just stating that the children are going to miss Monday and Tuesday at school (next week). And then after that, they were going to be split up by groups of three into three separate schools.”
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Blandford gave credit to the school and school district for “trying to figure out and keep the kids and the staff as safe as possible, but it really makes you wonder what’s wrong since they can’t figure it out.
“Are we going to be able to open this facility again or is it going to end up being shut down permanently?”
Blandford said an empty, nearby school in Malakwa, approximately 20 km from Sicamous, would be a great option, adding “it would be better for the kids to be out there versus having to go to Canoe every day.
“I think it’s less of a bus ride for a lot of the kids, because a majority do live in Malakwa.”