Surrey School District building. (File photo)

COVID-19

COVID-19: Surrey Schools says ‘lots of work and planning’ to do for March 30 despite no students

Superintendent says expectation from ministry is that ‘schools are operating and providing services’

Surrey School superintendent Jordan Tinney says the district is “strongly considering” to what extent it can provide services remotely, including from home, by March 30.

In a letter to staff Thursday (March 19), Tinney said that while the Ministry of Education has suspended in-class instruction in B.C., that “news is a sign of the times.”

He said the district wanted to wait to send the letter until he had has a chance to “conference directly” with the minister and deputy minister of education “to get more clarity on what government expectations are over the coming weeks, and how our district can respond effectively.”

READ ALSO: Surrey school reopens after one-day closure due to positive COVID-19 case, March 11, 2020

“The most clarity we can provide right now is that while students may not physically be in classrooms, schools are not closed,” Tinney writes. “The expectation from the Ministry of Education is that ‘schools are operating and providing services.’”

Tinney said the district has until March 30 “to do our planning” and staff is “actively working” on the plan.

He said the top priority is the “health and well-being” of staff and the school communities. Tinney highlighted the recommended health precautions, such as remaining one to two metres from other people and banning gatherings of 50 or more people.

“We are trying to determine exactly how that will unfold in our sites, as we have buildings which we have well over 50 people,” he writes.

“We are schools and at our very core we are social enterprises. These measures and this announcement will hit at the heart of what we do. In our plans, we are strongly considering to what extent we can provide services remotely, including from home. It may not be that all staff are attending a school site as your normal workplace.”

These concerns, Tinney said, are “also top of mind for the district and that is why were are exploring all options for work.” He added that he knows “many of you are nervous about coming back to work” on March 30.

It’s also a time for the district to “harness the power of online technologies and video conferencing,” Tinney said, adding that the district has the ability “for every school to host their first meetings on March 30 online.”

Tinney writes that he will share more details in the “coming days,” but know that it “will not be ‘business as usual’” by the end of the month. He added staff still needs to “prioritize our work” and there will be an “adjustment period.”

In a tweet from Tinney, he said there is still “lots of work and planning to do,” but most importantly at this time is to “rest up, take care. We need you well.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus causes Surrey Schools to cancel trips to Italy, Japan, France, March 3, 2020

READ ALSO: All international student trips have been cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic: Surrey Schools, March 13, 2020



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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