SD 10 board, December 14: Trustees pass on vax mandates
by John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
Trustees at SD 10 are not at all interested in wading into the vaccine mandate debate. The board issued a statement at the December 14 meeting saying it would not move forward on any requirements for staff to be vaccinated.
“The board is committed to ensuring the safety of staff and students and the district will continue to follow all health guidelines to ensure all programs and services continue,” said Board Chair Christine Dixon in reading the motion. “The board will not be moving forward with a vaccine mandate.”
The statement came without any public debate on the measure. Staff told Valley Voice that as a personnel issue, the discussion on the issue was held in-camera.
Teaching staff are still performing daily health checks with students, and encouraging masking and social distancing. There was concern that any enforced mandate of a vaccine mandate on staff would result in difficult-to-fill staff shortages, among other issues.
Outdoor learning gets big boost
Educators at SD 10 are proudly displaying a new trophy on their shelf touting the district’s outdoor learning achievements.
Each year the Kootenay-Boundary Environmental Education Initiative sponsors the ‘Take Me Outside 4 Learning School Year Challenge,’ where teachers are asked to commit to taking their students outside for learning at least one day a week. Again, this year, SD 10 had the highest percentage of students registered for the challenge out of the seven participating districts.
Ninety-three percent of students in SD 10 were registered under the program, a 128% increase over last year, and enough to put the district into first place in the challenge.
Outdoor learning and environmental/place conscious education have been foundational pieces in SD 10 for many years, SD 10 Superintendent Peter Dubinsky said.
“It’s not about being outside, it’s about learning outside, and extends to Indigenous education, First People principles, and also looking at environmental issues that surround all of us,” Dubinsky told the board. “We live in such a beautiful part of the world and to have this kind of classroom at our disposal is powerful.”
“We don’t want to be just doing stuff outside,” he continued. “Doing stuff is great, but building skills and proficiencies while we are outside that is connected to learning… we’ve been really focussed on building proficiencies but that is really critical.”
The district will use the $500 that came with the first-place trophy to enhance each school’s outdoor learning resources.
Childcare at BES and NES
Parents looking forward to after-school care at Burton Elementary School may have to wait a little while longer before the program begins.
District officials had hoped to have the new ‘seamless day’ program starting in earnest in January. ‘Seamless Day’ aims to provide a continuum of learning by integrating in-school learning with after-school care.
The district has launched a survey for Burton parents to give their views and ideas on what programming should be available for the children once the seamless day gets going.
But getting the system set up is taking a little longer than expected, Dubinsky told the board. There are no real snags, as much as it’s tough to get anything done, thanks to COVID.
“Like everything these days, things are slow and backed up,” Dubinksy told the board. But Interior Health officials should be able to approve the daycare space soon. “We’re still waiting for our licencing to be completed and we will work with them to get through the application.”
He said they are also still trying to find a qualified Early Childhood Educator who will run the program in the community.
“So we have students, soon we’ll have space, and hopefully we’ll have staff,” he told the board.
Meanwhile, work on the Nakusp Elementary School Child Care Hub project is also proceeding, with regulatory approvals, program development and hiring efforts starting to get underway, as the 96-seat, $3 million building continues to take shape. The NES project is also in the midst of a recruitment drive for an Early Childcare Educator to work alongside the district on the elements needed to open the daycare, from determining staffing needs to developing programming.
“We need people with knowledge from both the business end and licencing end, as well as working with children,” Dubinsky told the board.
Exterior construction is nearly complete, while a lot of interior work – wiring, IT, furnishings, etc. is still in the early stages.
The project is expected to be complete in May 2022.
As in Burton, parents are being surveyed for their input on what they want to see happening for after-school programming for students.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice