VICTORIA -- The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) has opened classroom doors to the children of essential service workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirteen schools across SD61 are now open to children of essential service workers between 5 and 12 years old.

Educational assistants are helping to provide school care programs, with a priority placed on “tier one” service workers, such as health-care workers, law enforcement, emergency responders and social service workers.

“We need to support our frontline workers as they continue to protect us and maintain essential services that keep our community functioning,” said SD61 superintendent Shelley Green.

“Our schools are open to serve the families whose parents or guardians are in critical roles—and we are putting forward every effort to ensure these students have a safe and positive experience in our care.”

Before the school district launched its new school care program, SD61 reached out to parents and families across Greater Victoria to determine how many families needed the service.

SD61 says that approximately 80 children are registered for school care programs, which were launched two weeks ago.

The school district adds that more families are expected to sign up for the program moving forward.

Essential service workers who would like to register their children for school care can contact the Greater Victoria School District by email at[.]

“District staff have gone above and beyond to get this program up and running in such short order,” said SD61 board chair Jordan Watters.

“A big kudos to the educational assistants who are stepping forward to care for our students in this challenging time and our custodians who are keeping our buildings clean and safe.”