Friday, July 31, 2020

Government's Return to School plan gains a few caution flags from BCTF membership

Earlier this week Education Minister Rob Fleming outlined the British Columbia Government's Return to School plans for September, providing the update on the moves ahead as the Ministry moves towards Stage Two fo the BC Education Restart Plan.

“The classroom is an essential part of a child’s social, academic and mental development, and that’s why we are working hard to ensure students can safely spend the next school year with their teachers and classmates. We were the only jurisdiction in Canada that brought students back into the classroom provincewide before the end of the school year and this has given us valuable information that we are using to develop our plans, ensuring health and safety at schools remain paramount.” -- Rob Fleming, Minister of Education

As part of the relaunch for the September school year, the Minister made note of the consultation that the Ministry has done with the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

On the advice of the provincial health officer, students will be organized into learning groups, a consistent group of staff and students. This will reduce the number of people each student or staff member will come into contact with, reducing the risk of transmission and ensuring quicker contact tracing by health authorities.

As part of the School relaunch plans, all boards of education and independent school authorities will continue to be required to implement a suite of health and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, following the recently updated guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control.

"We know how important it is for children to be back in school – to both support their emotional and mental health and their ability to socialize and to learn. Being back in school is also crucial to support many parents in being able to work, but we must do it safely. We ask for families and workplaces to continue to be flexible as we come into the fall. We’ve put a lot of thoughtful work and consideration into reopening schools this fall and in making sure we’re supporting children in ways that keep them, the people who teach them and our communities safe.” -- Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. 

The five stage Framework for K-12 Education provides for the expectations for the province's elementary, middle and secondary schools, with students to be organized into learning groups, which will reduce the number of close, in person interactions.

As part of the School relaunch, School Districts and Independent schools in the province will be required to submit a Restart Plan before the start of the school year.

Notes from the Wednesday announcement can be reviewed here.

The Full Review of the Stage Two restart can be explored here.

The province's plans have however raised a few flags for the BCTF which represents public school teachers across British Columbia, with the Federation raising a number of their concerns earlier today through social media.

Some further background on the BCTF Concerns can be reviewed here.

Also speaking to the School restart issues, is North Coast teacher Tom Kertes, who has been making use of his social media feed  to share some of his thoughts since the Ministry of Education released the Re-Start plan.

The local labour activist, who is currently the President of the Prince Rupert Labour Council has expanded on his themes on education through his RedForBCED blog, calling on the politicians to get out the way and to let teachers do their job.

So far School District 52 has not provided for any public details as to their School Restart plans for September.

For more notes related to Education in the Northwest see our archive page here.

A look at some of the provincial news coverage of the government's plans for the return to school and the BCTF Response can be found from our political Blog D'Arcy McGee and our Victoria Viewpoints feature.

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