St. Michael’s principal positive in return-to-school plan

St. Michael’s principal positive in return-to-school plan

“Let’s give this school year the opportunity to be awesome …” - St. Michael’s principal Julia Mason.

Not all schools in Trail are going back on Sept. 10.

The government of B.C. delayed school start times to Thursday, but an independent school in Trail is sticking with its original plan.

St. Michael’s Catholic School, member of the Catholic Independent Schools of BC, is required to meet the Ministry of Education, WorkSafe BC and provincial health safety measures, yet has some flexibility.

The school will invite Grade 1-7 students back to class on Sept. 8 to ease them into the new normal, with a compassionate and caring leader at the helm.

“Along with our re-start plan, the Sept. 8 start date was approved by the Ministry of Education Independent Schools Office,” said St. Michael’s principal Julia Mason. “For those that know me as an administrator, my number one priority is the safety of the students. Of course, there are the unexpected scenarios that may appear, but it would not be for lack of prevention and being proactive with protocols and procedures in place.”

St. Michael’s staff is required to attend two administration days prior to school start and so returned to school last week for two full days which gave them time to review the protocols and procedures put in place back in June, explained Mason.

“The first week back to school will be dedicated to safety and health protocols. We have dedicated an entire week for training, orientation, and reflection for the students before returning to our in-depth learning programs.”

According to St. Michael’s Revised Restart Plan, cohort sizes will be less than 60 students. During the first days of orientation students will meet their teacher, get settled into their classrooms and learning groups, and learn and practice the new rules and routines.

When asked if she was at all tentative about a return to school amidst the pandemic, Mason says it is a positive and integral move for the students, staff and parents.

“I always use the term, ‘let’s not delay the inevitable.’ At some point in time, we need to start moving forward in re-establishing routine and responsibility to society, and we can do this in a safe and controlled way.”

In addition to maintaining cleaning and sanitizing protocols, the school will enforce, albeit grudgingly, self-distancing as required by the provincial health authority.

“The most proactive measure we can take as a school community is to enforce proper handwashing and hygiene,” said Mason. “If handwashing and hygiene protocols are in place and followed correctly, it will minimize contamination of high touch surfaces. The challenge will include restricting those well-deserved and possibly needed hugs and high fives.”

School District 20 schools like J. L. Crowe, Webster and Glenmerry Elementary will begin classes on Sept. 10 with two days of orientation before jumping into the curriculum on Monday, Sept. 14.

Despite the delay, the Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union (KCTU) voiced some trepidation about the province’s return-to-school plan.

“Our BCTF and KCTU position is that the current plans are flawed and can easily be deconstructed and are ‘containment’ and not ‘protection’ plans and are focused on contact tracing and not our or our student’s health and safety, particularly when groups over 50 in our communities can be fined but schools can be stacked with up to 120 ‘bubbles’,” said the KCTU in a statement.

As a Group 1 Independent School, St. Michael’s teachers are not KCTU members, but are under contract to the school.

The chief administrator, however, remains vigilant in considering and embedding the extra precautions. Students and staff at St. Michael’s, as well as SD20 schools, will be required to take a ‘Daily Health Screening Check’ each morning before school, while all parents and guardians are prohibited to enter school grounds without an appointment.

Students have to be dropped off and picked up at definitive times, and there will be constant oversight and direction offered, in addition to constant hand washing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing when required.

Those students that are not comfortable, can ease themselves back into the curriculum by Sept. 30.

Mason is confident that the vast array of protocols can be implemented effectively and students and staff will be safe when they return.

“It is quite amazing how resilient and adaptable little humans (children) can be. Children are so observant and absorb their surroundings, for example in June, the students naturally kept a distance and reminded others to do the same.

“They shared stories of their experiences living through COVID and were not bothered by some students wearing masks or not. In fact, you could hear compliments in the halls, ‘I like your mask did you make it?’ These little people (students) can be trusted.”

Mason says her goal as an administrator starting off this COVID school year is to calmly lead and to build trust, with the maxim, “I am not fearful, I am faithful.”

She points to a social media post that sums up her philosophy when facing the very real and dynamic challenges of the new school year.

“Let’s give this school year the opportunity to be awesome, don’t throw a label or judgment on it before it begins, it may just surprise us in big beautiful ways.”


sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSchool District No. 20 Kootenay-Columbia

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

Terry Miller won the Rossland byelection.on Saturday.  Photo: Terry Miller
Rossland voters select Terry Miller as new councillor

City of Rossland releases results of advance voting and final voting day of council byelection

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

This picture of Taghum resident Marc Savard was taken in February when he first spoke to the Nelson Star and little was known about the virus that had shut him out of his job in Wuhan, China. Photo: Tyler Harper
VIDEO: Once an outlier, Nelson man’s COVID-19 experience now typical

Savard was living in Wuhan, China, when the pandemic began

A strong contingent of Trail Smoke Eaters helped out Kiwanis by unloading up to 600 trees at Butler Park on Wednesday, in preparation for their annual Christmas Tree Sale and community fundraiser. The sale starts on Friday, with all funds donated to community groups. Photo: Jim Bailey
Trail Kiwanis Christmas tree sale – a harbinger of the holiday season

Kiwanis is offering free christmas tree delivery for seniors without adequate transportation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

Vees goalkeeper Yaniv Perets stands watch while Tyler Ho takes the puck around the back of the net on Nov. 7. The BCHL press release did not name the player who tested positive.(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees quarantining after player tests positive for COVID-19

The team, staff and billets are isolating while they are tested

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Most Read