Government says full-time school for students in B.C. this September

Government says full-time school for students in B.C. this September

Government says full-time school for students in B.C. this September

VICTORIA — Parents, students and teachers anxious about the coming school year received an outline Wednesday about British Columbia’s plans for a safe return to full-time classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said most students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will return to B.C. schools starting Sept. 8.

Enhanced safety measures and more resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will allow the province to move ahead with school restart plans, he said.

“We are maximizing the number of students who are returning to class,” Fleming said at a news conference. “We had 200,000 students attend school in June and that has given us some important information. We do know there’s no substitute for in-class learning.”

He said classes are essential to the mental and academic development of students and the plan will support and ensure their health and safety.

The plan was developed with a committee of teachers, parents, First Nations, principals, trustees, school boards, support workers and health and safety officials. It builds on the experiences from June when students had the option of attending part time, Fleming said.

On the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, students will be organized into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with, cutting the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus, he said.

Henry said the groups for elementary and middle-school students will be no greater than 60 people and the secondary school groups will be up to 120 people.

“Looking to September, school is going to look and feel different,” she said. “We know schools can safely reopen if community transmission is low.”

But the union representing teachers said the plan is not ready and needs more work.

“The reopening needs to be safe, careful, and get the buy-in of teachers, support staff, parents, and students,” Teri Mooring, BC Teachers’ Federation president, said in a statement. ”Bringing everyone back all at once, even with some version of a cohort model, on the first day after the Labour Day long weekend, is too much, too soon given the many unanswered questions in (Wednesday’s) announcement.”

Henry said the learning groups will limit the potential for COVID-19 transmission and make contact tracing easier. She said if transmissions occur within schools the plan will have to be flexible and adjustments made.

Fleming told the legislature Tuesday that the plan includes measures nimble enough to react to the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19.

Henry said large gatherings of students at assemblies and competitive sporting events between schools will not be held this fall. But she said the plan provides schools opportunities to be innovative about engaging students.

Andrea Sinclair, president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils which represents the parents of 565,000 students, said the plan has the support of most parents who believe the best place for their children is in the classroom.

The learning groups allow children to return to a safe environment, she said.

“Research tells us that school closures disrupt the learning process and the long-term outcomes of students.”

But parents should be prepared for possible changes to the way classes are structured in September, said Stephanie Higginson, president the B.C. School Trustees Association.

She said school districts may change the semester system or class scheduling to better adhere to learning groups.

“We really have to erase everything from the chalk board and start again,” Higginson said. “It’s going to take a little while for districts to think about how to implement this.”

Fleming said his government is putting up $45.6 million to ensure safety measures, including increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces, an increased number of hand-hygiene stations and the availability of masks.

School districts will post the final back-to-school details online by Aug. 26, he said.

Staff and students, or kids’ parents, will be expected to watch daily for symptoms of COVID-19.

“The safety of students and staff is paramount, and government will continue to make science-based decisions, following the expert advice of Dr. Henry and her public health team,” said Fleming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Education

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

file photo
County of Wetaskiwin Land Use Bylaw amendments approved

Ammendments approved by Wetaskiwin County Council at Nov. 24, 2020 Council meeting.

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Lawyer Devon Page, Ecojustice Canada’s executive director, pauses during a news conference in Vancouver on Wed., Sept. 26, 2012. The environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta’s inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction this summer to suspend the inquiry, headed by forensic accountant Steve Allan, until there is a decision on whether it’s legal. nbsp;THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Judge tosses application to pause Alberta inquiry into funding of oil and gas foes

Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry

Most Read