The Burnaby school district plans to have free school-hour services in place for the children of local essential service workers by as early as Wednesday.
Last month, the provincial government directed school districts to help provide services for the children of essential workers while in-class instruction is suspended to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the school district, the province has told districts and child-care providers to prioritize services for kids of “tier 1” essential workers, which include health workers, social services workers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and paramedics.
Others deemed by the province to be essential service workers are "tier 2."
Just over 400 essential workers responded to a survey the district put out on March 27.
Last week, some of them were connected with all-day child care from service providers that work in the district – but the parents had to pay.
This week, the district will start providing free “learning opportunities” for the children of local tier 1 essential workers during regular school hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For children aged five to 12, these services will be provided at nine school district sites across the city.
“Children will be placed in multi-age groupings, located in designated school sites,” states a letter sent out to 105 essential service workers Friday. “For convenience, these are the same sites offering before and after school child care.”
The parents will still have to pay for the before- and after-school care.
Tier 2 workers needing all-day child care will not have access to the free 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. service but will be connected to district service providers who are now providing all-day care for a fee.
To accommodate the extra kids, the district will provide staff and extra space in classrooms to meet physical distancing requirements designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Tier 1 essential service workers who have not yet responded to the school district’s survey, have exhausted all other options for their children, and who need access to support during school hours are asked to contact the district at email@example.com.