Students across B.C. will be welcomed back into the classroom on Sept. 10, the province has announced.
The original plan was for students to return on Sept. 8.
But in recent weeks, teachers and parents have voiced concern that staff would need more time to adjust classrooms and curriculum plans to meet the various COVID-19 guidelines set out by the province, including physical distancing and the implementation of “learning groups,” made up of a consistent group of staff and students in order to reduce the risk of infection transmission.
“Staff, students and parents need time to get familiar with all the new health and safety procedures that are designed to keep them safe and confident in their school settings,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said in a statement Wednesday (Aug. 12).
Students will be welcomed back to class for orientation by Sept. 10 and will use this time to get familiar with classrooms that will look different than they did before the pandemic.
Then, students will be assigned to their class, find out who is in their learning group, practise their new routines and familiarize themselves with how to safely move from the class to outdoor and common areas of the school.
Earlier this week, school districts were provided with readiness checklists to ensure they are updating their health and safety plans. Specific plans must be made publicly available on Aug. 26.
Since mid-July, when the province first announced its school restart plan, the BC Teachers’ Federation has been critical of the rollout, citing safety concerns for teachers.
In a June survey which gauged teachers’ feelings about the province’s hybrid system used to finish off the school year, the federation said that only 54 per cent of teachers reported proper health and safety measures were in place at their school, and only 51 per cent of teachers reported feeling safe.
“This return to school process has been openly described as flying by the seat of our pants by administration,” read one teacher’s submission describing their concerns about a rushed reopening, the survey results show.
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