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New Skwo:wech Elementary School opening delayed by COVID, B.C. floods

Students were set to move in to the new school in January 2022, but that's now been delayed. A new date has not yet been set.
skwowech construction Nov 23
Construction of the new Skwo:wech Elementary School has been hit by delays related to COVID-19 and the recent B.C. flooding. The new school will not be open after winter break after all.

The new Skwo:wech Elementary School won't be opening after Christmas break after all.

New Westminster school district superintendent Karim Hachlaf delivered that news to school trustees at their Nov. 23 board meeting.

Hachlaf noted the district has been facing some supply-chain challenges from COVID-19 – challenges that have been magnified by the recent devastating floods that hit the Fraser Valley and Interior.

"Now with the recent floods causing damage to the roads, we are not going to receive some of our outstanding supplies to open after the winter break," he said.

The district is now working with its contractor, Heatherbrae Builders, to assess the situation, evaluate how it has impacted the ability of crews to get the work done, and come up with a new timeline.

Hachlaf noted the school had planned two remote learning days, before and after the winter break, in order to facilitate the move to the new building; a similar plan will be enacted whenever the move occurs, he said.

Hachlaf said he'll return to the board and the public with a new timeline when that has been settled.

“I think our public and our community understands some of the challenges we’re facing that were out of our control," he said.

The district sent a letter to parents Tuesday night (Nov. 23) to alert them to the delay.

The $35-million replacement for the former Richard McBride Elementary School was approved in 2018, when it was first projected to open in January 2021. The province approved funding for a new school because the existing building, which dates back to 1929, has a seismic rating of “H1” – meaning it’s at the highest risk of widespread damage or structural failure in the event of an earthquake.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, jmaclellan@newwestrecord.ca.