Back on the bus John Townley

Back on the bus John Townley

Back to school for more than 30,000 students in Greater Victoria

The Greater Victoria School District is expecting the student population to remain the same at 19,500 students, although final enrolment numbers won’t be known until the end of September. In the Saanich School District, where enrolment has been on the decline, estimates are lower than last year’s count of 9,713 students. Saanich is down slightly in all levels, but not as much as anticipated in elementary, Elder said.

Ready or not, school’s back in on Sept. 6.

The best way to prepare children for the big day is to keep it simple. Know when your school opens and feed your child a good breakfast, said Deborah Courville, associate superintendent of the Greater Victoria School District.

“The other thing that really helps is to have a designated spot or time for students to study after school. Sticking with that routine really helps the student be consistent and know what to expect.”

Courville suggests parents smooth the transition back into school by setting regular bedtimes and regular study times to establish a routine.

For Keven Elder, superintendent of the Saanich School District, the best way to ensure a positive return is for parents to make connections with teachers.

“And being positive and excited about the return to school, because it is a positive time to be back with classmates and friends,” Elder said. “Most of what will create a positive transition will be around the way parents and families embrace the return to school, so we really encourage a really positive atmosphere around the home.”

The Greater Victoria School District is expecting the student population to remain the same at 19,500 students, although final enrolment numbers won’t be known until the end of September. In the Saanich School District, where enrolment has been on the decline, estimates are lower than last year’s count of 9,713 students. Saanich is down slightly in all levels, but not as much as anticipated in elementary, Elder said.

From an administrative standpoint, Elder is looking forward to the district’s move toward more personalized learning during the upcoming school year.

“Although the curriculum has stayed the same, the ways in which they can go about accessing that learning is getting more student-centred all of the time,” he said.

“If they want to learn through more activity, or through more reading, or through more technology, or through more interaction with people – including experts they can access through the technology – then we allow them to make those choices.”

Helping kids find the best way for them to learn is key, says Education Minister George Abbott.

“It involves from the early years, early identification and remediation of learning challenges, whether they’re physical or cognitive,” Abbott said. “We hope to keep more students engaged and hopefully engaged through to at least getting their Dogwood from high school.”

The provincial graduation rate is just under 80 per cent, he said, though that number drops to 50 per cent for aboriginal students.

Among the major issues facing the education system this fall, Abbott says the most immediate is the ongoing B.C. Teachers’ Federation contract bargaining.

Since the first-ever negotiated contract between 40,000 teachers and the B.C. Public School Employers Association expired at the end of June, talks have been sparse and the federation has threatened to withhold administrative duties should no agreement be reached.

“We don’t know exactly what kind of impact that will have on students and parents and the school year, but we certainly are going to follow it very carefully and I’m going to attempt as far as I can, to maintain what has been a constructive and respectful and professional relationship with the teacher’s federation,” Abbott said.

September also marks the second half of the province-wide transition to full-day kindergarten, which is now offered to all five-year-old students. In 2009, the Ministry of Education announced a $365-million investment in the program over three years.

“It’s a pretty exciting time, going back to school, because it’s always new, whether it’s a new grade or a new school and for the kindergarten students, it’s school all together,” Courville said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Back to school road safety

As of 8 a.m., Sept. 6, school zones are back in effect.

Every year, the Insurance Corporation of B.C. records an average of 16,655 crashes, 5350 injuries and 36 deaths involving children.

To lower the risk, the B.C. Automobile Association Road Safety Foundation suggests drivers, including parents, avoid driving in school zones.

The foundation reports that incidents stem from drivers making U-turns, stopping illegally, backing into crosswalks, rolling through stop signs, ignoring school safety patrollers, letting children out from the driver’s side into oncoming traffic and speeding.

As of last September, changes to the Motor Vehicle Act now trigger a seven-day vehicle impoundment if drivers are caught doing 40 km or more over the posted speed limit.

SD61 by the numbers

• Full time educators (administrators and teachers): 563 (female);  339 (male)

• Part time educators (administrators and teachers): 322 (female); 79 (male)

• Average full time base salary: $70,686 (female); $73,771 (male)

• Average years experience: 12.8

Just Posted

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read