Friday, May 15, 2020

Ministry of Education outlines steps ahead towards in-class instruction for British Columbia students

Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming provided the first glimpse as to how the Province of British Columbia will address in class instruction for the rest of this year and on towards September.

Of note for Parents if they choose, will be an option to send their children back to class on a part time basis as soon as June, with the goal towards a full time return for students in September.

“British Columbians have worked hard to flatten our curve. As we move into the next phase of our pandemic plan after the May long weekend, the science shows us that we’re ready to bring students back to school safely on a gradual and part-time basis. This will be welcome news for many families who have struggled to adjust to remote and online learning, and for parents who are going back to work. At every step, we will move slowly and make health and safety our top priority. B.C. has done well under the guidance of our provincial health officials, and now is the time to take this next step together.” -- Premier John Horgan

As they move towards the end of May, provincial officials will make sure schools are safe for students and staff, and as part of that approach the number of students in school each day will be reduced, with most receiving in-class instruction part time.

School districts will determine scheduling for classes and transportation arrangements. For kindergarten to Grade 5, this means most students will go to school half time (such as alternating days), while grades 6 to 12 will go to school about one day a week.

Children of essential service workers and students needing additional supports will have the option to attend school full time. Families that decide not to send their children to class may continue learning from home.

The return to in-class education will be paced on a gradual approach, with Health and Safety the over riding factor for all measures.

Some of the in school measures include:

Desks spaced apart and avoiding groups or gatherings of students in hallways or other common areas

Regular cleaning of high-contact surfaces like door knobs, toilet seats, keyboards and desks at least twice a day, and cleaning the school building at least once a day

Students, educators and staff will be required to clean their hands before entering school property, and there will be more hand-sanitizing and cleaning stations available, with well-stocked supplies

Staggered drop-offs, lunch and recess breaks, with increased outside time

Each school district and independent school must have its return-to-class and safety plans approved by the ministry before moving to the next stage. The plans will be posted on each district’s website for families to access.

The ministry will support boards of education and independent school authorities in building these plans, and operations during the pandemic will be regularly monitored.

 Since returning to class is voluntary and most students will be attending part time, school leaders will contact families to make arrangements for children to return to in-class instruction.

If parents have not heard from their schools by May 22, 2020, they are asked to contact their principal.

Parents and caregivers are advised to follow the schedule provided for their child to ensure a safe and orderly restart.

“School is the place where kids learn how to connect with others and grow together, and it’s incredibly important for students who need extra support to get more time with their teachers and support workers. We’ve looked at what measures other jurisdictions are putting in place and we’re taking direction from our provincial health officials, so students, educators and staff know we’re taking every precaution to protect their health and safety.” -- Rob Fleming, Minister of Education

The full list of measures and more background information, including Child care provisions as part of the return to school can be explored here.

So far, School District 52 and Annunciation have not detailed what plans they will institute in the Prince Rupert area.

As the province notes once complete and approved, those plans will be posted to the SD52 or Annunciation website.

The province suspended in class instruction for K-12 on March 17th, since then School Districts and Independent Schools have created on line learning programs for students.

For more notes on education on the North Coast see our archive page here.

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