With the start of the school year eight days away, one Winnipeg school division is updating its back-to-school plans with the goal of ensuring social distancing for its students.
The Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) said it will be temporarily relocating some students and staff from highly populated schools to better achieve the province’s recommended two-metre distancing.
LRSD superintendent Christian Michalik told 680 CJOB the plan will affect eight schools in total, with students moving from four area schools to four others.
“They’re all French immersion schools having to move some of their student population to a neighbouring school that has room,” said Michalik.
“Of course, we’ve communicated personally with the staff and families of the children impacted.”
Michalik said the province’s guidelines of two-metre distancing “whenever reasonably possible” was open to interpretation, but after a lot of planning, this seemed like the best option.
“We’re left to interpret the word ‘reasonable,’ and it’s, of course, required a lot of creative, strategic thinking,” he said.
“It’s kept us busy all summer long in support of our schools, but it’s been achievable and it’s reasonable, in my opinion.”
One of the schools affected is École Sage Creek School, which will see 107 of its grade 5 and 6 students moving to Shamrock School.
Sage Creek principal Mark Poirier told 680 CJOB it’ll be a challenge, with schools using some spaces that are not traditionally used as classroom locations in order to meet the distancing requirements, but so far the transition has been smooth.
“We’ve been lucky that the administration (at Shamrock School) has been very welcoming and we’ve been working together since late last week,” he said.
“Our board office is ensuring we have the furniture that is required, we’re getting computers, etc.
“We’re going to make sure the teachers here are able to move all of their resources and materials during the course of this week to ensure that we can get started early next week.”
Poirier said, for the most part, parents have been understanding despite the upheaval.
“They know that this is a temporary measure and that the school and the school division have done all we could to make the best possible decision in this difficult situation.
“We understand that this is difficult for students, for staff and for parents, and we don’t want to minimize that, but most people are focusing on the positives, understanding that the division is doing what it could to ensure student safety — that’s at the base of all these decisions.”
Full details of the temporary measures can be found on the LRSD website.