Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School. (Submitted photo)

Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School. (Submitted photo)

Pre-existing woes might deepen after COVID-19 for remote Vancouver Island schools

Logistics, transportation and a broadened spectrum of vulnerable students are some of the challenges SD 84 schools will have to deal with

Post COVID-19, remote schools on Vancouver Island will have to deal with more than than just pandemic-imposed disruptions.

While pre-existing problems, especially with transportation, are going to intensify, schools will also have to deal with a broad spectrum of vulnerable students.

For SD 84 schools in Zeballos, Gold River, Kyuquot and Tahsis, challenges that existed before COVID-19 are going to be persistent even after the pandemic settles, said Lawrence Tarasoff, Superintendent of Schools & Secretary Treasurer.

In communities like Zeballos and Gold River, where 30-50 students use school buses, physical distancing and managing logistics is going to be a big challenge with limited vehicles.

An average round trip to school in these communities is between 30 minutes to an hour. In addition, spacing out children in the bus might add five to seven round trips unless more vehicles are arranged.

“It’s going to be extremely time consuming, leaving students with lesser classroom time.”

Each school in SD 84 has its own challenge.

“Zeballos has only one bus driver for 46 students,” said Tarasoff. That coupled with a lack of a gas station in Zeballos, is going to be a logistical hurdle when arranging multiple school trips.

To add to this, the pandemic has already strained the education system in these remote communities. With weak Internet connectivity and technological limitations, a “virtual classroom” has not been an ideal solution here.

“Families that have five or six students in one house, trying to get on different virtual classrooms with a weak bandwidth makes things awkward,” said Tarasoff.

Educators in these communities are moving way from technology to deal with these challenges. They maintain connection with students through phone calls, paper packages and also provide an option to come in to schools for half a day or for one-on-one consultations with their teachers.

Educators have also seen an increase in the number of students who struggle with learning during the lockdown.

“The spectrum of ‘vulnerable students’ has widened within these months,” said Tarasoff who witnessed that a lot of students were overwhelmed and anxious with the disconnect from normal school routines.

“It’s not just children with special needs that have been identified as vulnerable students during these past couple of months, but even the ones who do not show progress in their learning curves have been included in this category.”

Based on the educational requirements of these students, teachers have had to constantly modify their strategies to see what works best for these students.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Tarasoff.

According to provincial plans, schools will open slowly as per the five-stage plan. Currently in stage four where schools are open to children of essential workers and vulnerable students, there is still no clear picture about normal school activities resuming anytime soon.

The longer the COVID-19 imposed lockdown goes on for schools, there is also a danger of children forsaking formal education said Tarasoff.

Worried more about older students opting for this, Tarasoff said, “Once students get disconnected from schools, it is very difficult to get them back.”

READ ALSO: Tahsis students step out for socially distanced farm to school activities

CoronavirusEducationTransportation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read