A parent of two children at Sunnyside Elementary is concerned that students – who will be learning in four new portable classrooms located on a former playing field this fall – will have to walk all the way back to the main school buildings for washroom breaks.
Jared Harman, who has a son, nine years old, and a daughter, just turning six, returning to the school, said he’s more concerned about security of children during the washroom visits than about the presence of the portables on the site to offset overcrowding.
“I understand the school board is planning to build an extension to the school,” Harman told Peace Arch News last week.
“If the portables are a necessary thing, so be it. I’m just concerned about the security around them during this temporary measure.”
But Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said that while the district takes note of parents’ concerns, the security aspects of portable classrooms have been under control for as long as they have been in use in the district – at least 30 years.
“There’s nothing different (at Sunnyside),” he added.
Although Harman said he knows that two or more children walk to the washooms as part of a ‘buddy system’ established by the school, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea “if two nine-year-olds are making a huge long journey outside shouting distance of their teacher.”
While he is sure that school staff and teachers will be “doing everything they can to make the school as safe as possible and provide a great education for the kids… I don’t think I should have to worry about my kids using the washroom during the day.”
He added that he understands the washrooms are locked after school hours, but has concerns that members of the public could have access to them during the daytime.
But that is disputed by Strachan, who said that, while washrooms are open while the school is open, “the whole school is a monitored and secured area.”
“We appreciate the concerns of parents, but we’re pretty seasoned at managing portables,” he said.
He acknowledged that although the experience of learning in portables is “far from ideal for the students,” the district is hopeful that construction on the planned school extension can begin as early as the 2021-22 school year.