Cortes Students Go Back To School

Schools reopened across British Columbia on Monday, June 1st. A survey of families with elementary age children in School District 72 suggests a little more than half may return. As Cortes students go back to school, I emailed local principal Brent Wilken some questions about attendance and the challenges ahead. These are his answers.

1. How many students returned to Cortes Island school? Did a number of students stay home? 

“We had approximately 50% of our students returned for the month of June.”

2. What does the COVID disruption mean, in terms of the student’s school year? IE – Will they have to repeat a year? Were students able to keep up electronically? What about students who did not keep up electronically?

“Remote learning for Cortes was delivered in a variety of formats. Some technology was lent out, in other cases physical packages of learning materials were either picked up at the school or delivered to homes, depending on the need. Phone tutorials, virtual lessons, podcasts, and blogs were all used to provide support. There were varying levels of participation in the provided learning opportunities. The learning opportunities were never intended to replace in-class learning and were used more as a chance to support previously acquired skills rather than to introduce new concepts. Regardless of the progress made since spring break, all students will be met by teachers in the fall where they are at physically, academically, and socially by responding to students’ individual needs in a way that fosters optimal growth and moved along their learning and development trajectory.”

3. How does physical distancing come into play on the bus? And in the classroom?

“Regarding physical distancing, adults must stay a minimum of 2 metres away from each other when interacting or occupying adjacent space for more than passing by. Adults must attempt to stay a minimum of 2 metres away from students when possible. In a teaching or support setting, there may be times when the distance must be reduced. In those instances, adults ensure they are not directly face-to-face with the student. For peer interactions, with elementary aged children, physical distancing can be challenging. The focus is on minimizing physical contact between children. Older students are asked to maintain a safe physical distance whenever possible. To proactively support physical distancing measures, staff, students and visitors are asked to avoid close greetings (e.g., hugs, handshakes). We spread people out into different areas (e.g., different desk and table formations) and stagger recess/snack, lunch and class transition times to provide a greater amount of space for everyone. We have also organized learning activities outside including snack time, place-based learning and unstructured time as much as possible, taking into consideration personal measures and encouraging appropriate hand hygiene practices before, during, after outdoor activities. Parents/caregivers and other non-staff adults entering the school are minimized as much as is practical to do so.

” As for the bus, a physical barrier was installed between the bus driver and passengers (a clear plastic curtain). Each student sits in their own seat. Students from the same household can share seats.

For more in depth information I refer you to the districts School Occupancy Protocols from the SD72 web page “

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