Education minister Rob Fleming and Premier John Horgan talking to kids following an announcement for a 200-seat addition at Sullivan Elementary on April 18. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Return to school to be delayed, says B.C. Education Minister

More details expected in coming weeks

B.C. youth won’t be returning back to the classroom Sept. 8 as planned amid growing concerns that teachers need more time to prepare for the “new normal” of schooling due to the ongoing pandemic.

Education Minister Rob Fleming told reporters on Tuesday (Aug. 11) that work is still being done to determine exactly when kids will be back in class, according to media reports.

He said it’s important that school staff have at least a few days before kids begin their 2020-21 school year.

More information is expected through a formal announcement in about a week.

During question period earlier in the day, Fleming said that the first day of school will look different than in years past.

“Previously students would come back into class, usually with their previous year’s teachers, and wait a few days for school to be organized for the coming school year,” Fleming. “We can’t do that in a pandemic.”

The education minister first announced the province’s back-to-school plan in mid-July, which entails the return date to follow Labour Day long weekend and include the implementation of “learning groups,” made up of a consistent group of staff and students in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

Students will be assigned to groups of up to 60 for younger grades and 120 for high school, and does mean that some middle and high school students will see some changes to their daily schedules.

In recent weeks, the BC Teachers Federation and vocal parents groups have called for the province to hit the brakes on returning to school, citing concerns on how physical distancing and other safety precautions will work.

“If the plan is rushed or too many questions are left unanswered, it won’t be successful,” the group said in a statement at the time. “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 today’s announcement.”

‘WE ALL HAVE ANXIETIES’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Other concerns include making masks mandatory – a line of defense B.C.’s top doctor says is not necessary when distancing and hand hygiene is possible – as well as a call for clarity on the idea of what learning cohorts will look like.

”That’s what parents want. They want local, specific information, and I understand that,” Fleming said Tuesday. “They should rest assured that we have the innovative minds of school leadership in every part of the province working on just that now.

ALSO READ: B.C. teacher hopes province will change back-to-school plan in fear of COVID transmission


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

NDP calls snap election, Milobar running for re-election

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced on Monday that he will officially terminate… Continue reading

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Most Read