Andrew Samoil, SD 52 superintendent, said the BC Centre for Disease Control told them the Omicron variant is four and a half times more transmissible and therefore have made plans to mitigate and large-scale transmission and worst case scenario responses. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern view)

Andrew Samoil, SD 52 superintendent, said the BC Centre for Disease Control told them the Omicron variant is four and a half times more transmissible and therefore have made plans to mitigate and large-scale transmission and worst case scenario responses. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern view)

Prince Rupert’s SD 52 unveils plans for worst-case scenarios

Functional closures and moving students among options

Prince Rupert students went back to their classrooms on Jan. 10 even as schools reopened after the winter break with updated COVID-19 protocols.

While health policy remains very similar to previous guidelines that parents and students are accustomed to, there are two key updates to the School District 52 Back to School Communicable Disease Plan, to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

The first addition includes a “functional closure,” which is a preparatory plan for the possibility of a sudden large loss of staff.

“What that means is the school is still open. However … that school can’t functionally operate as normal,” Andrew Samoil, SD 52 superintendent, told The Northern View.

The closure entails scaling back services at an individual location and limiting the number of students attending.

The building would remain open to children of parents or guardians who are essential workers, health professionals, emergency responders and other parents in need — similar to the first week of classes from Jan. 4 to 7, Samoil said.

Staff would remain on site, but may not hold classes for each grade and would shift to a supervisory role. Throughout the school day, teachers would engage pupils in an array of activities such as in the, gym, library or outside.

Should a functional closure occur, the first thing a school will do is contact parents before continuing a nine-step plan, Samoil said.

“We just have to be prepared,” he said, adding teachers spent the last week preparing for potential absences both for themselves and their students.

Educators made up to five days-worth of lesson plans and created blueprints to accommodate students who may miss a week of classes due to illness or isolation.

“It’s all what you can do to ameliorate learning loss,” Samoil said.

The second key new preparatory health measure is a plan for if there are not enough custodians to clean a school up to regulatory standards. Should that be the case, plans gave been laid out to shut the building and move students to another school.

“That’s a very unlikely scenario. We have lots of custodians,” Samoil said. “We’re good.”

Other subtle changes such as not wearing a mask while playing musical instruments or during intense physical exercise are included. Students must still wear a mask while singing or while doing lower intensity physical activity, like yoga.

For full details the public may find the updated 20-page plan online or on SD 52’s website.

READ MORE: B.C. schools to have a staggered re-start in January

READ MORE: All Prince Rupert school children required to wear masks


Norman Galimski | Journalist
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