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Schools out for Games

Proposal to close schools for Olympics prompts parents to conduct their own survey

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That was good news for Kathy Bonin, chair of the Spring Creek Elementary School PAC, which has already had its first meeting of the year and meets again Oct. 10.

“That deadline seems way too short,” she said.

Of most concern to parents, she said, was what was going to happen to the kids who were out of school while their parents will be working flat out to cater to a packed resort. In some cases employees have been told they cannot take holidays during the Olympic period.

“The big concern was the daycare issue,” she said.

Bonin said she was surprised to learn that the elementary schools were to close.

“Previously it sounded like (the board) was not going to touch the elementary schools,” she said. “So I was a little bit surprised by that.”

During discussions and pubic meetings last spring it became clear that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games was interested in using high school space, but not the elementary schools.

Walden said challenges with logistical issues swayed the board to consider closing the elementary schools.

While he would not go into the details of what those issues were there were lengthy discussions last spring about how kids would get to school while hundreds of Olympic buses are on the road dropping off and picking up spectators, and how security would be dealt with.

Walden said the board was very aware of working parents’ concerns about childcare and there were discussions underway about what could be done to help, including what role the empty elementary school facilities may play in a solution.

“This is being discussed,” said Walden.

Added Vernon-Jarvis: “Parents have a part to play here.

“It is not a school responsibility, but having said that we recognize parents’ difficulty and we are prepared to be the centre for organizing this.

“Now that the decision is made we must all be involved enough to make sure that what we need happens.”

On the high school front, part of the decision to close was based on research and feedback, which suggested that students were unlikely to come to class when such a hallmark event is happening.

“One of our considerations for the secondary schools was that we could keep our schools open, but if the kids aren’t there are we serving the needs of the population?” said Walden.

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