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Northern Vancouver Island high school announces ‘functional closure’

‘This closure is due to the shortage of staff and the inability to cover these staff shortages’
North Island Secondary School in Port McNeill. (Gazette file photo)

School District 85 (SD85) has announced a functional closure at North Island Secondary School (NISS) in Port McNeill.

A letter to parents, guardians and caregivers was sent out by Superintendent of Schools Christina MacDonald and NISS Principal Jen Turner, where they jointly announced the school will be functionally closed on Friday, Jan. 21.

“This closure is due to the shortage of staff and the inability to cover these staff shortages to provide the requird level of instruction, safety and supervision of our students,” the letter stated. “Teachers will be planning to pivot to online instruction, should the functional closure need to continue into next week.”

The letter noted it is expected that students will be able to access their classroom assignments online, and “through methods shared by their classroom teacher, by noon, Jan. 21. It is expected that teachers will be ready to provide online instruction by Monday, Jan. 24 should the closure need to continue.”

The letter added SD85 will be monitoring the situation throughout the weekend.

“We recognize this is a stressful time for students, families and staff. Please know that all possible alternatives were considered prior to making this decision. We are grateful for your patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times together.”

According to the Ministry of Education, functional closures are called when schools cannot adequately supervise or instruct children due to issues such as snow days, power outages, or illness. The province has warned residents that functional closures will likely be happening due to COVID-19-related issues, such as staffing shortages.

School districts hold the power to make the decision to call a functional closure, not the province.


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Tyson Whitney

About the Author: Tyson Whitney

I have been working in the community newspaper business for nearly a decade, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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