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No daytime custodial shifts for North Okanagan-Shuswap elementary schools

School District 83 said there will be topped up hours for touch-point cleaning
School District 83 has shared its updated safety plan for the 2021-22 school year on its website at (File photo)

North Okanagan-Shuswap elementary schools will continue to receive additional care by custodial staff, though not to the same degree as what was provided during the 2020-21 school year.

Unlike the last school year, elementary schools will not have daytime custodial staff, said School District 83 communications person Alice Hucul, explaining there were challenges with that system, including staff not having enough time to thoroughly clean facilities after the school day. Cost was another factor.

In a January 2020 Observer interview, former SD83 Superintendent Peter Jory said the school district was spending roughly $25,000 more per week on custodial work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stricter health and safety protocols.

This year for elementary schools, there are regular custodial shifts (which vary depending on the school), said Hucul, plus some topped-up hours (being done by the regular custodian or another) so that touch-point cleaning can be done in each school for a couple of extra hours each day.

“What we are doing exceeds safety protocols set out by PHO and Ministry, which is for cleaning once a day,” said Hucul, adding secondary schools will continue to have daytime custodial work done as was the case before the pandemic.

The safety plan posted on the school district’s website, available here, refers to cleaning protocols, including enhanced cleaning for when a communicable disease outbreak is confirmed.

Read more: COVID-19: North Okanagan-Shuswap school communities asked to be vigilant

Read more: Health, safety emphasized as North Okanagan-Shuswap schools open

In a Sept. 9 message to parents, guardians and students, Donna Kriger, the school district’s new superintendent, noted the province has mandated the wearing of masks by Grade 4-12 students “due to the prevalence of the Delta variant.”

“The province has also requested that school districts cooperate with their local health regions to accommodate pop-up vaccination clinics at some school sites for families and students who are 12 years of age and older.”

As of Sept. 9, there were no school pop-up clinics planned for Shuswap schools. Dates and times for school clinics can be found here. Kriger’s message included links to other information from Interior Health, including about Mature Minor Consent. Kriger asked that parents/guardians/caregivers take the time to discuss the topic of vaccination with their children.

“We are grateful for you, our stakeholders, as you are much needed partners in ensuring our schools remain open for face-to-face instruction,” said Kriger. “We have high confidence in our school staff along with members of the transportation, facilities and custodial team who continue to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of your children while they are in our care.”
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