With an increasing number of COVID-19 cases within the community, the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) Cultural Immersion School has not been open to the public since students went on winter break on Dec. 16.
The Cultural Immersion School returned from winter break on Jan. 4 and has held classes online, with two-hour sessions per day, according to Gareth Jones, director of OKIB education, language and culture.
“We had a soft start where we didn’t physically come back to school. We just had the students working from home,” says Jones.
On Jan. 15, the OKIB education department and health department decided to reopen the Cultural Immersion School on Jan. 18.
“We feel this is in the best interest of the students and parents,” Jones says. “Risk at school is low, given the COVID-19 protocols we have in place.”
What parents should know
Previously, students and staff could remove their masks outside and in classrooms as student desks were surrounded by plexiglass. Now, everybody must wear their mask indoors and outdoors.
“I have made it mandatory now that all education staff must wear their masks wherever they are in the building or outside,” Jones explains.
Students are required to wear a mask at all times as well he says.
According to Jones, OKIB is planning to increase health promotion efforts to educate OKIB members about the changing protocols and the importance of vaccines.
“If things do get bad again, we have that ability to go online, and kids are getting used to working online and taking classes online,” says Jones.
“I do notice that children are much happier to be at school this year. It was very hard for them not to see their friends. They realized they’re lucky to be there.”
Jones feels confident in the children returning to school and is thankful for his staff through this challenging time in the community.
“My staff are being creative and thinking about how to better provide for the children and keeping everybody safe. I’m thankful,” says Jones.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 please call the OKIB Nurse Hotline 250-241-7595 between 8 am and 4:30 pm Monday to Friday.