The Nicola-Similkameen School District is supporting emergency response operations to help displaced staff, families and students due to flooding that occurred on Sunday, Nov. 14.
The school district serves Merritt, Princeton and the surrounding areas, many of which have been significantly impacted by flooding and mudslides. The school district said it is working closely with health authorities and municipalities to provide support for families, such as a food and supply donation centre.
According to a press release, three of 11 schools within the district were damaged last week. Merritt Central Elementary School, Diamond Vale Elementary and Merritt Secondary School were all damaged by flooding. The school board’s office in Merritt was also damaged. The district will provide an update on the status of the buildings once the assessments have been completed.
It is also working to establish a timeline to reopen the four remaining schools in the Merritt area based on recovery efforts and the city’s phased Return Home Plan. The district is also making plans to reopen Nicola Canford Elementary, which is located outside of Merritt and was undamaged by the flooding, as soon as possible.
“The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District (SD83), Central Okanagan Public Schools (SD23) and the Kamloops-Thompson School District (SD73), which is coordinating a food and supply donation centre for SD58 families this week in Kamloops, have all been an incredible help,” said superintendent Stephen McNiven. “Their support, along with the work of the Ministry of Education, our union partners and the United Way has made everything we’ve done over the last week possible. On behalf of our trustees and school community, we thank them.”
Meanwhile, the school district’s four schools in Princeton are undamaged but remain closed. Princeton’s water and sewage systems are undergoing repairs, and water conditions and pressure remain an issue.
“The school district is creating an equitable Return to Learning Plan to ensure that all students can continue their studies regardless of the physical status of their school. In support of this, the school district has hired third-party consultants to guide the process of developing and communicating the plan. On-site assessment begins today,” stated the school district.