Revelstoke School District puts focus on supporting local during COVID-19 recovery

Primary focus remains on student well-being, but district says it has an important role to play in impacting community recovery during and after COVID-19

Okanagan College Revelstoke is one of many partnerships the Revelstoke School District currently has. The college has used space at the Farwell school site for a number of years. Photo: Okanagan College/Facebook.

The Revelstoke School District is exploring how it can support local businesses trying to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

“While we continue to focus our efforts on the health and well-being of our students to provide the best learning experiences and environments possible, we also have an important role going forward in the recovery process of our community,” reads an April 29 statement from the Revelstoke School District.

Revelstoke School District Superintendent Mike Hooker told the Mountaineer the decision to focus on supporting local came from a board of trustees discussion about the potential the district has to impact recovery. Hooker said while the district is supported by tax dollars and there is a need to look at value for money, there is also a need to support local businesses when possible.

“We looked at the partnerships we’ve had to this point and looked at what else we can do,” said Hooker.

The school district currently has a number of community partnerships including with the Revelstoke Acrobats, Revelstoke Performing Arts, Revelstoke Child Care Society, cadets and Okanagan College. Those partnerships are based on cost recovery, not on making money said Hooker. More recently, the Revelstoke Local Food initiative has put forward a proposal to use the Farwell site for a project that includes turning some of the field into a working garden.

“The LFI are currently working to determine a few details with respect to things like parking, irrigation, zoning, etc. The board is very interested,” said Hooker.

The district’s support goes beyond partnerships, however, and expands into ensuring local businesses are supported when possible, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hooker said the board reviews purchases made by the district every few months and when out of town purchases are made they ensure it is because there was no local option. For larger projects in excess of $75,000 the district is required to put out a request for tender, but Hooker said the district has the ability to choose local contractors for projects under that amount.

Currently, Revelstoke schools remain closed as the district continues to take direction from Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry regarding hand washing, distancing and personal safety.

“Within those guidelines we are providing childcare for essential service workers at our schools, and meeting with students who require more in person support,” said Hooker.

Revelstoke board of trustees chair Bill MacFarlane thanked students, families and staff for their continued pateince and support.

“We are grateful for the creative and innovative ways that our staff and students are working together to make the best of a challenging situation,” he said.