“No magic answer” says educator as schools set to resume classes amid COVID concerns.
Bob Kowalchuk, thought he saw it all in education until the pandemic hit.
Kowalchuk, a longtime educator in Saskatchewan and a member of the Regina’s Catholic School Board, has been grappling with the Board’s back to school plans.
Parents, students, teachers, support staff and others have expressed great concern about the potential for the spread of COVID-19 when classes resume Sept. 8.
The potential is real with students studying in tightly packed schoolrooms or wandering in crowded school hallways.
“We’re really dealing with peoples’ fears and concerns about how we are going to be able to create a safe enough environment where we can mitigate the amount of risk that kids have and staff have and create a place where people can be comfortable to get back to work,” says Kowalchuk who was interviewed on In Real Time.
For more than 30 years, Kowalchuk has worked in various capacities in education. He was a teacher, vice-principal, principal, Superintendent of the School Board, and Director of Education with the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council.
Kowalchuk has been checking out the back to school concerns on social media expressed by parents, teachers and students.
“I think a lot of people are looking at Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, (and) other places that are posting lots of the horror stories,” says Kowalchuk. “But people need to remember that the king of transmission here is the community. If we can control COVID at the community level and managing it at the community level, then we certainly can create environments that are safe enough in our schools.”
The province has left it up to individual school districts to come up with a plan that works for them.
Students in Grades 4 to 12 attending the Catholic school system in Regina will be required to wear masks where social distancing is not possible. Other measures include increased cleaning and disinfecting in schools. Hand hygiene stations will be placed at major school entrances and in each classroom.
More details are to be released August 26.
“I don’t think there is a magic answer for any one family out there,” says Kowalchuk. “Families are going to have to decide what’s in their best interests for their own selves and their children and do what they can. School boards are trying to do their very best to offer the greatest amount of options for parents that they’re to be able to stay connected and have their children complete their education.”