Schools brace for all-day kindergarten

Matthew Hoekstra, Richmond Review

Teachers, construction crews and district staff are racing to prepare more than 80 classrooms to host full-day kindergarten for the first year in all public schools.

A B.C.-wide shift to full-day kindergarten began in half of Richmond’s schools last year. This year new classrooms have been built, staff have been hired and the ranks of lunchtime supervisors have been bolstered to accommodate the program’s district-wide expansion.

“It was an incredibly successful beginning last year with half the classes, and we’re confident it will continue to be so this year,” said Nancy Brennan, assistant superintendent….

The pre-fabricated classrooms are fixed to a permanent foundation and built to a higher standard than typical portables. They’re 50 per cent larger than the average aluminum-clad portable, boasting wood finishes, large windows, washroom and colourful ceiling panels.

Ten such classrooms have been added to schools throughout Richmond, in addition to four new classrooms added to École Henry Anderson Elementary—a $1.7-million project—this year.

Shelter Industries designed, constructed and installed over 130 of the modular classrooms across B.C., while other space-challenged schools were fitted with additions. Districts received cash to fund additional materials and supplies, as part of the province’s $365-million kindergarten plan.

Across B.C., approximately 40,000 students are expected to enter full-day kindergarten in September—and approximately 1,300 in Richmond….

“Teachers found that the children settled into their new school routine fairly quickly. Some schools made adjustments to recess and lunch schedules and others provided children with big buddies, pinnies—so they could be easily recognized— marked off areas where they could play on the playground, or encouraged children to be a part of the school as quickly as possible,” said Thom….