School district superintendent Kevin Kaardal. (Contributed)

‘Phased return’ to school for Central Okanagan teachers

Teachers will return to work next week with staggered shifts

Central Okanagan teachers will soon be returning to the classroom — albeit, with a few extra spare periods.

An email sent to teaching staff on April 30 by School District 23 superintendent Kevin Kaardal explained the plan going forward in which teachers will attend school one day per week. While students still have no set date to return to class, teachers will be returning to work on-site in a phased-in approach beginning May 5.

“We are asking principals and managers to organize one-quarter or one-third of their staff to attend one day per week,” Kaardal wrote in the memo. “This means that over a four or three day period all staff who are not medically compromised will have worked one day on-site.”

About 400 of the district’s more than 23,000 students are currently attending school on-site, those being the children of essential services workers, many teachers will be without students.

“We feel staff will be able to physically distance if we start this phased-in approach to return staff to working on-site without students first and requiring that they follow the safety protocols that are in place,” wrote Kaardal.

During a virtual town hall with school district officials hosted by Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, Kaardal addressed the memo, saying staff have to return to school to provide services at some point.

“That may be before the end of June, that may be in September, that may be in November, we don’t know yet,” said Kaardal during the meeting.

While acknowledging some teachers may have concerns about venturing back into the outside world, they’ll have to bring that up with their manager or principal. Kaardal assured the schools have ample space to allow for physical distancing.

All teachers, aside from those who are at a higher risk to catch the virus, will be required to show up to work when scheduled.

“Employees are being paid and it makes sense that they have to be doing meaningful work, and sometimes that may mean they have to work from on-site, and sometimes that means they can work remotely,” Kaardal said.

While not mandatory — nor provided by the district — teachers are welcome to bring their masks and hand sanitizer, Kaardal said. The district has, however, implemented required hand sanitizer stations and strict safety protocols to protect all staff during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Virtual town hall with School District 23

READ MORE: City of Kelowna proposing tax hike slash to 2.05%

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michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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