School zone sign is prominently displayed outside Crofton Elementary School. Despite signs like this at schools all around the region, many people have ignored them during back to school this week. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Elementary schools return with 40 per cent class attendance

RCMP issue 39 warnings in school zones around the region

School obviously looked a lot different when some students in the elementary grades returned to physical classrooms this week in the Chemainus Valley.

At Crofton Elementary School, principal Jennifer Calverley noted approximately 40 per cent of students are returning this month.

“Our school has been divided into two groups who either attend on Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays,” she explained. “On Wednesdays, which is our Remote Learning Day, our teaching staff works with students who are continuing with their learning at home. We have been supporting children of Essential Service Worker families since the beginning of April and continue to do so five days per week.”

Cones and markers were set out in front of the school to help with practicing physical distancing in lineups and for a staggered entry into the building.

“We also have arrows and visuals throughout the school to help us to navigate the classrooms and hallways with physical distancing,” added Calverley. “We spent a good portion of the first day back to school with our students teaching and practicing hand washing, discussing physical distancing, and how to communicate with someone if they are in your physical space.

“It has been wonderful having students back in the building and hearing their voices and laughter. I am extremely grateful for the work that our school staff has done during the last few months to continue to provide learning opportunities at home, to support Essential Service Worker families, and to prepare for the return of students on June 1st.”

At Chemainus Elementary School, principal Brenda Stevenson noted that approximately 40 per cent of the students have also returned there and children of ESW workers have been in the school since April.

“As a staff we have been working diligently to prepare for our welcome back to school in June – Part Three,” she added. “I am proud of the work that has been completed both by the district staff and our school staff, especially our EAs who have put in countless hours working alongside office staff preparing our school to be a safe, healthy, happy place to return to.”

Stevenson pointed out Mondays are the Remote Learning Day at Chemainus Elementary. Children are attending school Tuesday through Friday in a variety of ways.

The Government of B.C. announced the reopening of in-class instruction to all students on Monday had about 30 per cent of expected enrolment in attendance.

At the high end were the Grade 6 students at 48.3 per cent of expected enrolment, while Grade 12 students were at the low end with 14.5 per cent.

The government numbers reflected only the first day of the return to part-time, in-school learning. Other students were expected to gradually be back in their classrooms over the course of the week.

Meanwhile, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP conducted speed enforcement in several school zones in the Cowichan Valley Monday.

Officers also made patrols through the school zones to ensure the safety of students who returned to school for in-class instruction.

From 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 39 warning tickets were issued for speeding in a school zone. Officers also issued two other violation tickets, located a prohibited driver and a vehicle without insurance.

“The officers used their discretion by issuing warnings, this could have easily been 39 violation tickets,” noted Const. Pam Bolton, media relations officer for North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP. “Please use caution while travelling through school zones.”

The school zones remain in effect until the end of the school year. Fines for speeding in a school zone range from $196 to $253. If the speed is in excess of 40 km/hr over the posted limit, fines range from $368 to $483.

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