Candace Spilsbury, chairwoman of the board in the Cowichan Valley school district, welcomes students back to school on Sept. 4. (File photo)

Candace Spilsbury, chairwoman of the board in the Cowichan Valley school district, welcomes students back to school on Sept. 4. (File photo)

Cowichan schools ready for opening day

School district expects more than 8,000 students this year

All the schools in the Cowichan Valley school district are ready for the start of classes on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Approximately 8,050 students from K-12 are expected to return to schools in the district after summer break.

Candace Spilsbury, chairwoman of the school board, said she expects it will be a good school year for staff and students.

“We’ve spent a lot of time planning and preparing, and we’re looking forward to doing the best job we can for our students this year,” she said.

“Enrolment in the district is up for 2018/19. We had been planning for an increase of under 100 students, but we’ve been getting more than we were anticipating each year for the past three years. We won’t know the final numbers until about mid September.”

To keep up with a growing student population and the need for more space for educational programs, a number of the district’s schools have had to add portables for the year.

Superintendent Rod Allen said there is lots of demand from school districts across the province for portables this year, and their readiness is largely determined by availability from the manufacturers.

“All our schools are ready to accommodate all their students on Sept. 4, however some classes may be in temporary spaces until portables are ready,” Allen said.

“Our crew has been amazing in the amount of work accomplished over the summer to get ready for September.”


To date, Alex Aitken, Discovery, Chemainus, and Palsson elementary schools are still waiting for requested portables, with most expected to have them in place by mid September.

Spilsbury said the district is also excited about the opening of its new Mill Bay Nature School on Tuesday, located in the same but renovated facility as the closed Mill Bay Elementary School.


The nature-based school is intended to provide its students with frequent outdoor experiences through all subject areas that allow them to play, explore, and experience first-hand the natural world.

“The school will be K-3 this year, and we have 80 students registered,” Spilsbury said.

“We had so many apply that we had to hold a lottery to see who would attend this year. We intend to expand the school up to Grade 7 next year.”

New students to the district are required to register, in most cases, at their closest neighbourhood school.

The district requires evidence of the student’s birth certificate, status card or passport, as well as the parent’s identification and proof of residency.

Parents should accompany the student when registering, and should bring the student’s most recent report showing final marks to help facilitate proper placement.

For more information on opening day in the district, go to