Parents of Parkview Elementary students have been told the school could possibly reopen by mid-November.
A public meeting was held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the former Malakwa Elementary building.
Parkview was closed on Sept. 20, leaving younger children attending classes at Eagle River Secondary and those in older grades riding school buses to Salmon Arm.
Mellissa Fallis, one of the parents who attended the meeting, said while there was no new information on what caused the odour, a plan for the next steps was provided. Parents were told there is currently no odour in the school and if they get the all clear from Interior Health, the school district plans to use the four-day break around Remembrance Day to get the school reopened.
Fallis added that if Parkview cannot be reopened, the district plans to investigate other sites in and around Sicamous to serve as temporary classrooms. Options raised included the vacant Mountainpark Motorsports shop, the upstairs community space at the Sicamous and District Rec Centre and the former Malakwa Elementary.
Parents, including Fallis, took matters into their own hands over the last weekend of September doing groundskeeping, indoor cleaning and repairs at the disused elementary school in hopes some of the Parkview classes could be moved there.
School District #83 Superintendent Peter Jory praised the industrious work by the parents, but said it will not sway the decision the school board will have to make. As school district employees are unionized, Jory told the Eagle Valley News it is not appropriate for parents to be performing work on school property.
According to the district, a consultant was hired to look at the possibility of opening the Malakwa school to students. Fallis said parents at Wednesday night’s meeting were told that former elementary is being considered as an option for some classes, but it cannot accommodate all of Parkview’s students. The consultants report notes concerns with the property including a lack of an up-to-date fire plan, concerns old flooring may contain asbestos, some exterior exits which need to be updated and repairs required to sidewalks.
Until Parkview can be reopened or a temporary solution can be put in place, many students are being bused to Salmon Arm. Time on buses and out of classrooms is piling up, particularly for students who live in Malakwa and other areas on the fringes of Parkview’s catchment area.
Fallis’ children catch the bus at the Prosh Frontage Road east of Craigellachie. Fallis said even when her kids were riding to Parkview, they were on the bus for an hour each way. Now that her 10-year-old daughter Ella is being bused to Salmon Arm’s South Canoe Elementary, Fallis said she is spending 17-and-a-half hours a week on the bus.
“While we appreciate the efforts of the school district to get all kids back in class as soon as possible — this just isn’t a viable solution should the Parkview closure be long term,” Fallis said.
-With files from Lachlan Labere.