The B.C. government will be outlining its plans for the 2020-21 school year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The announcement will be made by Rob Fleming, Minister of Education; Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer; Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association; and Andrea Sinclair, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.
Live at 12:30 p.m. PDT on July 29: B.C. health and school officials outline the province's plans for the 2020-21 school…
Back in June, nearly 60,000 kindergarten to Grade 12 students returned to school on a part-time basis, with new health and safety guidelines, before summer break started. The return to the classroom was optional and there was still an online curriculum available for students who were at home.
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan said parents should prepare for a full return to classrooms this fall but also have a backup plan in case the COVID-19 pandemic forces further closures.
Horgan said the B.C. government will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 up until September and is prioritizing a strong plan over a quick one.
Fleming said last week the province is aiming to move beyond its hybrid classroom-online model used in June.
He said the goal is to have a 100 per cent return to classrooms for kids in elementary and middle schools, while there are ongoing discussions about alternative accommodations for secondary school students.
According to Fleming, British Columbia is among the jurisdictions considering a “cohort” model that would limit students’ interactions and possible exposures.
“We’re seeking to move ahead to having kids back in classrooms full-time. Of course, it’s going to be a ‘new normal’ situation, schools will look different,” he said.
The province is trying to avoid learning loss and the interruption of children’s learning paths during the pandemic, while introducing measures to ensure things like safe hand hygiene and distancing in schools, Fleming said.
Horgan said he shares the safety concerns of all parents and school staff.
“My plan is to make sure we get it right, not that we get it done by a certain time,” Horgan said.
With files from The Canadian Press