Half of students in West Van expected to return in June

About half the students in West Vancouver will be heading back to school next week as many kids return to the classroom for the first time in two and a half months.

Attending school will be voluntary, part-time and only a small portion of kids will attend each class at the same time.

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But for returning students, it will be an important way for kids to connect with their teachers and with classmates face-to-face, said Chris Kennedy, superintendent of West Vancouver schools.

Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will attend school either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, while students from Grade 6 to high school will attend one day a week.

To make sure there aren’t too many kids in one place, there will be staggered school start, end and lunch times, he added.

Hollyburn school feet
Students at Hollyburn Elementary's essential worker school have learned how to keep a safe distance. photo Paul McGrath, North Shore News

Most classes will have only six or seven students attending at one time, said Kennedy. “It’s not as though there will be 22 kids running around together.”

Also, “A lot of our classes will be outside. That’s one of our goals – to get kids outside and active.”

Kennedy said for students who aren’t returning to the classroom, there will still be support for online learning but “obviously it won’t be to the level it has been.”

Kennedy said the vast majority of teachers – now designated essential service workers – are expected to return to the classroom next week.

Similar plans for a return to school are in the works in North Vancouver, although information about how many students are expected to return in June wasn’t available before press time.

As schools gear up renewed classroom teaching, medical health officers said this week there appears to be very little risk of children contracting COVID-19, getting sick from the virus or transmitting it to others.

“It’s clear around the world that [children] are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Monday, adding that’s proved true for B.C. as well.

In B.C. as a whole, 26 cases – or one per cent of all COVID-19 cases – have been in children under 10, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. In older children and teens between 10 and 19, there have been 47 cases – or two per cent of the COVID-19 cases – in the province.

In Vancouver Coastal Health, which includes the North Shore, there have been only five cases of children under 10 testing positive for the virus, said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer for the North Shore area.

Henry said doctors are aware of a rare new post-infection syndrome that has been observed in children who have had COVID-19 in places like New York. Doctors at BC Children’s Hospital are investigating six potential cases, she said Monday, but added, “None has yet been confirmed to be related to COVID-19.”


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