B.C.’s principals, vice principals say schools shouldn’t open until they are ready

B.C.’s principals, vice principals say schools shouldn't open until they are ready
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B.C.’s principals and vice principals are calling on the Province to think about making the return to school date flexible ahead of restart.

B.C.’s principals and vice principals are calling on the Province to think about making the return to school date flexible with September fast approaching.

As it stands, students in kindergarten through Grade 12 are slated to return to classrooms on September 8, however, the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association (BCPCPA) feels this might be too soon.

The BCPCPA suggests there is a “high level of complexity” associated with a safe re-opening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In reviewing the plan, we ask that government consider a flexible start date for students to return for the Fall school year, to be amended dependent upon the level of readiness in our schools,” the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association wrote in a statement.

“While our BCPVPA members are technically away from their schools until the middle of August, we acknowledge that many are now reviewing the revised needs of their school communities, and resuming their work after only a short summer break.”

The BCPVPA suggests they support the idea of a return to school and appreciate the government’s “responsiveness in an early announcement of the plan” on July 29, which has allowed for ongoing assessment over the last few weeks.

Principals and vice principals across the province feel, however, that more time may be needed as they manage changes to align with the Province’s plan.

“The adjustments to timetables and the possible move to alternate calendar models will require meticulous attention to ensure that the experience of students, educators and families is consistent,” the statement reads.

Districts are required to submit detailed reopening plans to the province by Aug. 26 – a date which the BCPVPA notes might not allow for enough time in some instances.

“We empathize with the staff members that we support and lead as, under the proposed plan, their first day of Fall employment on September 8 will find them in place with their students, with little preparation time for a new and challenging year,” said the BCPVPA.

“We hope that districts and government will recognize the many complexities of a school start-up, the work that has been done to date, the significant changes required, the need to communicate those changes to teachers and staff and the importance of taking the time to get it right.”

The group and its members are also seeking further clarity on the topic of learning groups – a concept presented by the BC Government in order to minimize risks of COVID-19 for students and staff.

The BCPVPA is looking for an additional explanation to “better understand the health and safety implications” of the learning group concept.

Along with the BCPVPA’s concerns over a start date that is fast approaching, parents have stressed their growing concerns about health risks amid a return to school.

The group supports the government’s efforts and ideas, suggesting “there will be many questions and challenges ahead, but it is important that we do this work together.”

An online petition has formed, gathering thousands of signatures, with concerned British Columbians who feel that the government’s plan should be voluntary and not mandatory.


Graham CoxGraham Cox

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