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Outdoor learning centres coming to four New West schools

Qayqayt, Queen Elizabeth, Lord Kelvin and Glenbrook are the chosen sites for the new structures, thanks to COVID-19 funding from the federal government
rain, boots, child in rain, stock photo
When you live in a climate where fall and winter days often look like this, how do you make outdoor learning practical? The New Westminster school district is investing in four outdoor learning structures thanks to federal COVIID-19 funding.

Four New Westminster schools will be getting outdoor learning spaces as part of the school district’s COVID-19 plans.

The district has earmarked $365,000 of the $2.5 million it received from the federal government in the summer to purchase and install outdoor learning spaces at local schools.

“We heard loud and clear from our trustees that this was an important area of investment,” secretary-treasurer Bettina Ketcham said at the school board’s Oct. 13 operations committee meeting (held virtually via Webex).

A report from Ketcham noted the district solicited feedback from the schools about which would be interested in outdoor learning structures.

The district considered which schools could most benefit from such structures – taking into account factors such as the school population, site suitability and the proximity (or lack thereof) to an existing outdoor learning space, such as a pavilion at a nearby city park.

In the end, four sites were selected: Qayqayt Elementary, Queen Elizabeth Elementary, Lord Kelvin Elementary and Glenbrook Middle School.

Ketcham told trustees the structures have been ordered, but there’s a lead time of eight weeks before they arrive. Maintenance crews are prepping the sites in advance so they can be put in place as soon as they arrive.

The steel-based structures will be permanent fixtures at the schools.

Ketcham assured trustees the district is being “mindful” of where the structure is placed at Queen Elizabeth Elementary in light of an approved expansion at that school.

The federal funding – part of a package announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in late August - is coming to the district in two parts. One half has already been received, and the second comes in January.

The largest chunk of that money, totalling more than $1.28 million, is being spent on teachers and support staff for the district’s new online learning programs.