B.C. secondary students to see range of in-person instruction time depending on district

B.C. secondary students to see range of in-person instruction time depending on district
Province of BC
Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, announces that back-to-school plans for K-12 families are now posted for all 60 school districts on Aug. 26, 2020.

The B.C. government has approved back-to-school plans from all 60 districts in the province, with a range of in-person instruction time for secondary students depending on the area.

Deputy education minister Scott MacDonald says in-class and remote learning will be offered depending on certain factors including the size of buildings and bus schedules.

MacDonald says that means some students may be at school for about 65 per cent of the time to minimize contact with others during the pandemic.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Education, 100 per cent of elementary and middle school students within learning groups of 60 students or less depending on the district.

The majority of secondary students will be attending in some form every day, the provincial government said, with a range of in-person instruction time. There are local variations in schedule due to ensuring health and safety guidelines, access to additional school space, preserving student choice and course offerings, collective agreements, along with parent, union and Indigenous input.

A slide showing the changes to secondary school schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic (BC government)

A slide showing the changes to secondary school schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic (BC government)

A slide showing pre COVID-19 secondary school schedules in the province. (BC Government)

A slide showing pre COVID-19 secondary school schedules in the province. (BC Government)

All districts will be posting back-to-school plans Wednesday afternoon, while independent schools will be posting their plans next week, said the government.

Students in the province will begin returning to classes on Sept. 10 for two days of scheduled health and safety orientation.

“There is no better place than in-class learning. With these plans now in place, parents can feel confident about sending their children back to school and assured that strict health and safety measures are in place to protect students and staff,” Minister of Education Rob Fleming said.

“I know that some families will continue to have medical or health concerns, and my expectation is that school districts will be flexible and work with families to provide remote options that keep children connected to their school community.”

The Ministry of Education shared some examples of back-to-school plans, including the Saanich School District (SD 63).

Under the Saanich School District plans, secondary students will attend approximately 75 per cent of the time with the following structure:

  • Preserve student course selections as much as possible;
  • Copernican timetable structure within a quarter system;
  • Two extended courses (am/pm) for a shorter period (10 weeks);
  • Morning block meets every day; afternoon block alternates days with
    blended learning model; switches after five weeks;
  • Some linear courses maintained to preserve course integrity (e.g. band,
    strength & conditioning);
  • School flexibility depending on size/complexity / course offerings;
  • Staggered breaks and lunch times;
  • Students attend approximately 75 per cent of time.

Saanich School District elementary students (K-5) are attending 100 per cent of the time with the following structure:

  • Division configurations similar to original planning;
  • Cohorts aligned by grade;
  • Staggered breaks and lunch for different cohorts;
  • Play areas divided into zones;
  • Students attend 100 per cent of time

And Saanich School District (6-8) are attending 100 per cent of the time with the following structure:

  • Following an elementary school instructional model as compared to a secondary model;
  • Homeroom teachers to teach majority of curriculum;
  • Electives (Fine Arts, Applied Skills, Band) maintained within student cohorts or physical distancing;
  • Staggered breaks and lunch for different cohorts;
  • Separate entrances where possible;
  • Students attend 100 per cent of time

The government said all schools are following the public health guidelines, set by the provincial health officer and announced earlier this summer. These include:

  • Daily self-assessment of students and teachers – no one comes to school sick
  • Enhanced cleaning and hand hygiene routines
    Classroom remains primary learning environment, with learning groups (cohorts) established to
    minimize contacts for students and staff:  60 maximum in Elementary/Middle School, 120 maximum in Secondary School
  • Minimize physical contact in school environment – physical distancing outside of learning groups
  • Masks – for staff, middle and secondary students in high traffic areas (e.g., buses and hallways) and outside of their learning group when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Investment to support the September Restart – $45.6 million for enhanced cleaning, hand-washing stations, re-usable masks and other measures to support safe learning.

It was also revealed late Tuesday that the federal government will be providing the provinces with an additional $2 billion to help ensure that kids can safely return to class this fall.

According to the government, that money will be allocated based on each province and territory’s number of students.

A slide showing public health prevention and exposure control measures for COVID-19 in B.C. (B.C. government)

A slide showing public health prevention and exposure control measures for COVID-19 in B.C. (B.C. government)

A slide showing school-specific measures for COVID-19 (B.C. government)

A slide showing school-specific measures for COVID-19 (B.C. government)

The B.C. government said there do continue to be online learning and home school programs for students. Fleming has directed school districts to contact all families in their school communities to share their safety plans and to confirm if they are planning for their child to attend school classes in September, or if they need alternative learning options.

What happens if greater restrictions are required in B.C. due to COVID-19? 

The B.C. government said if more restrictions are announced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schools will move to Stage 3 of its restart plan. This means a return to a hybrid in-class and online learning model.

The third stage would involve shrinking cohort sizes to 30 students for elementary and middle schools and 60 students for high schools.

All schools would have a target density of 50 per cent of normal student capacity.

Children of essential workers and those with disabilities would be prioritized for in-class instruction. In-class learning would be limited for all other students by cohort size and school density targets.

Self-directed and remote learning would once again supplement in-class instruction.

There is also a Stage 4 and Stage 5 if even more restrictions are announced. Stage 4 would limit cohort sizes to 30 students across all grades, with student attendance further limited to 25 per cent of school capacity.

Priority would be given to children of essential workers and those requiring greater supports. Self-directed and online learning would continue to be used.

Stage 5 suspends all in-class learning, with students using online and self-directed education entirely.

Watch Minister Rob Fleming’s back-to-school announcement on August 26, 2020 below: 

With files from The Canadian Press

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