Through changing restrictions and adjusted schedules, teachers and students alike are finding ways to get excited for another school year in spite of the pandemic.
After a summer of empty classrooms and quiet hallways, Revelstoke students returned to school Sept. 7. Enrollment in schools has gone up in the district, with just over 1.000 kids reported on the first day. The school board also reported a bigger changeover in students than previous years.
“The kids, when they show up after summer are there, they’re keen, they’re so excited to see their friends, they’re so excited to be back in that space,” said Graham Mackenzie, a grade six and seven teacher at Columbia Park Elementary. “The kids are just stoked to be there. They’re not coming back hesitant, they’re not coming back bummed about COVID, they’re just so happy to be in that environment.”
According to Mackenzie, the teachers in Revelstoke schools share the same feeling of enthusiasm as the kids.
“Every teacher is just pumped to be there,” said Mackenzie. “COVID is just another bump in the road for education, it really has very little to do with what is changing in our schools, it’s still just so student focused. Teachers just want to create the most normal environment that we can in a tumultuous world that’s a little confusing and a little scary now.”
The board of education and the department of health are encouraging families who have children in school to get fully vaccinated in order to minimize the impact COVID-19 could have on the school year.
“I would characterize our staff and students as optimistic and very hopeful for the year,” said Mike Hooker, superintendent for the school district.
Teachers had an opportunity to attend professional learning meetings leading up to the school year, as well as an opportunity to review the new guidelines put in place by the provincial government.
“It’s been a fluid change throughout school districts,” said Mackenzie. “From an education standpoint, all that matters is creating a conducive environment for learning and caring to best suit the children and give them a safe and comfortable space.”
The school board has left behind the cohort system from last school year.
Teachers have adopted an outdoor teaching policy based on the number of students involved and on the restrictions given to the district, leading to more opportunities for field trips and learning in outdoor spaces.