B.C. delays return to school for most K-12 students until Jan. 10 amid COVID-19 surge


Amid record-high cases of COVID-19 in the province, B.C.’s top doctor is introducing a “phased restart” for K-12 schools this January.

While staff will return next week on Jan. 3-4, most students’ return to school will be delayed until Jan. 10.

“This delayed start will allow public health and education time to assess the impact of the Omicron variant in our communities and on our education system,” Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said in a news conference Wednesday.

Schools will be open to children of essential workers or those with special needs, and parents of those students should be in contact with their school’s principal, Whiteside said.

The extra week will ensure that schools have time to develop enhanced safety measures addressing the Omicron variant, she said.

The update comes after the B.C. Teachers Federation urged the province to delay the start of classes in 2022.

Several social media messages posted by the BCTF and retweeted by union president Teri Mooring said provincial and district officials “need to do much more” if they intend to keep schools open in January.

The messages listed eight expectations to safely reopen schools.

Recommendations include: free N-95 masks and rapid tests in all schools; staggered class, recess and lunch times; and, ramped up testing and vaccinations during the winter break.

The teachers federation says the highly transmissible Omicron variant has “changed the pandemic” and it says school safety measures must change, too.

The union says thousands of students are still unvaccinated and many teachers and support staff haven’t received vaccine booster shots, so school districts and the B.C. government must “step up” to protect everyone in the public school system.

With files from The Canadian Press.


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