Independent Langley schools prep for return of students

COVID remains a challenge for private schools

Langley’s public schools are set to resume classes in early September, and independent schools will be charting their own, slightly different course to re-opening at the same time.

Credo Christian High School will re-open on Sept. 8 for a full day of class, said principal Kent Dykstra.

Like public schools, Credo and other independent schools must comply with provincial guidelines, which means physical distancing and keeping students and staff in learning groups or cohorts of no more than 120 people.

“The health and safety guidelines are equally applicable,” Dykstra said.

Some of those guidelines are easier due to Credo’s small size.

With just 300 students from Grades 8 to 12, the school will be able to create just three cohorts.

That gives the school the advantage that all the students in each grade will be in the same cohort. The school is still determining exactly which grades will be grouped together.

“We’re not dealing with thousands of students,” Dykstra said.

Langley’s public secondary schools range from more than 700 to almost 2,000 students.

Grouping all students in the same grade into the same cohort means less disruption to course selection, Dykstra said.

The school will bring its staff back a week early for training on new procedures around COVID-19 prevention.

Because a majority of students returned for the brief opening in June – at Credo it was almost 90 per cent – the school has already had a good trial run at operating, said Dykstra.

However, while they have learned a lot about cleaning procedures and using shared facilities like gyms, there are some things that can’t be avoided.

“Athletics does not look good,” Dykstra said.

Credo teams have played at championship meets in recent years, including playing in the 1A level finals at the B.C. High School Boys Basketball event at the LEC in 2019.

But Dykstra doubts there will be a full year of sports coming up.

“Students across the province are going to be disappointed by the lack of inter-school athletic offerings,” he said.

As for the class of 2021, entering their grad year, some things will be the same, while others will be different.

The class of 2020 had a socially distanced grad ceremony in groups of fewer than 50 people, and of course there was no banquet.

For the next year’s grads, the cohort rules will allow them to do some group outings together, possibly including beach trips, Dykstra said.

There are more than 80,000 students enrolled in independent schools across B.C.

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