School District No. 74 is warning of the possibility of ‘functional closures’ of district schools due to the spread of the Omicron variant. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)

School District No. 74 is warning of the possibility of ‘functional closures’ of district schools due to the spread of the Omicron variant. (Photo credit: Journal files)

School District No. 74 now dealing with functional closures

Cache Creek Elementary has had to close temporarily due to limited staff

School District No. 74 (Gold Trail) announced on Jan. 25 that Cache Creek Elementary School would be operating under a “functional closure” for at least Jan. 25 and 26. The district had prevously alerted students, parents, and caregivers to the possibility that COVID-19, and the fast-spreading, highly transmissable Omicron variant, might result in the functional closure of a school or schools in the district due to the impact on the day-to-day operation of school buses and schools.

A statement issued by SD74 School Superintendent Teresa Downs noted that information provided by the Provincial Health Office and the BC Centre for Disease Control shows that Omicron is a more transmissible virus with reduced symptoms for those who are vaccinated. “While we hope that you, your child, and the staff of Gold Trail are not impacted by the virus, we need to be prepared for a day when there may be a high number of staff away due to illness, which may result in a functional closure of a school,” said the statement.

A functional closure is when a school is not able to operate in a normal manner and serve students in the way that is expected (i.e. teaching, supervision, support, custodial services). There are two ways that a school could be impacted by a functional closure:

1. Interior Health could recommend a functional closure of a school due to the COVID-19 case count in, or related to, a school.

2. School District No. 74 could decide to close a school due to a shortage of staff who are able to provide the required level of teaching, supervision, support, and/or custodial services to ensure the health and safety of students. This would likely be due to a high absenteeism of all staff, or among certain employees required for a school to function, and the inability to fill those absences.

On Jan. 25, CCES notified parents that the school would be closed due to limited staff. Children of identified essential workers were the only ones able to attend the school.

Another way schools could be impacted is if a transportation route is closed due to a shortage of staff to be able to provide the required level of service and safety for students. This would likely be due to the absenteeism of bus drivers and/or mechanics, and the inability to replace those staff members.

The district has established a process where each morning the status of absenteeism for transportation and schools will be reviewed. If a bus route or school is required to be closed, the district is committed to informing families by 7 a.m. that day. Parents/caregivers should contact their child’s school to ensure that it has on file the preferred communication method they would want the school to use to share this information with them.

Closures will also be posted on the School District No. 74 – Gold Trail Facebook page by 7 a.m.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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