SD71 superintendent Tom Demeo says the district is taking a cautious approach to potentially easing students back into classrooms.

Demeo shared his thoughts on the possibility of school returning next month.

The newsroom had the chance to talk with him about where the district currently sits, and where it’s going in terms of getting kids back into the classrooms.

Demeo says the province has a five-stage plan in place to help return to full-time learning, and the district is hoping to be in stage three by June 1st.

“Currently, the ministry is operating under a five-stage system where stage five was a full shutdown of the school system. Stage four is where we are currently, at which is some school care for some essential service workers and some support for vulnerable students but the majority of our students are doing online.”

“Stage three is K-5 learners on a graduated part-time basis and then continuation to grades 6-12 online with some face to face on an as-need basis. That’s the stage we’re transitioning to. Our hope at this point in time is by the first of June, that we will be in stage three.”

He says sending students back to class will be optional for parents, but the district’s focus is on kids who aren’t doing as well with at-home online learning.

“If parents choose to keep their children at home and for the remainder of this year and educate them in the matter that they’ve been doing up to this point, thats perfectly acceptable and they will continue to be supported that way.”

“I think some students have done very well on the (online) platform and are able to finish their courses, while for other students the change and challenges have been very difficult. They require the adult connection and in a lot of cases, they are just struggling in that format so those are the students we want to reach out to and get them back into the system as quickly as possible,” explained Demeo.

Demeo added that leading up to the June 1st return date, the district will keep an open line of communication with parents.

“We’ll be sending out letters hopefully weekly as we move up to this. I would also encourage parents to visit our website, the latest information will be on there as well. All the parents will be contacted by schools moving forward regarding their wishes with thier children…especially in the K-5 system.”

The district is also hosting an online presentation by Kim Barthel via Zoom on Thursday, May 21st from 6:30 to 8:00pm to help ease any concerns and answer questions during this unprecedented time.

To learn more about the Comox Valley School District’s plans for students, click here.