Mixed reaction from parents and teachers after B.C. delays return to school until Jan. 10

Mixed reaction from parents and teachers after B.C. delays return to school until Jan. 10

Next week, classes will continue to look fairly empty as schools will only be open for children of essential workers and vulnerable students with disabilities.

With cases surging in the province, it came as no surprise to many parents that the B.C. government has decided to delay the return to class for most students until Jan. 10.

According to the statement from the Ministry of Education, the decision was made “to give public health and B.C. schools additional time to adapt to the impacts of the Omicron variant on communities and schools, and to implement enhanced safety plans to support the continuation of in-class learning.”

Some parents on the Island said they anticipated the announcement.

“It’s been a topsy-turvy year, two plus, you know what I mean, with COVID. So, it’s not shocking by any means,” said Chad Rintala.

“It’s okay for me, but for some other families, it may be unfortunate, but it’s best to follow the rules, right?” Kalsang Tsundue added.

For others parents, the last-minute adjustment will be a challenge.

“I’m a full-time parent, so it is a little difficult. So, I have to make arrangements for childcare,” said Jonathan Cox.

“I think it’s the right choice. And I think it’s going to be challenging for folks who need their kids to be back in school, but as we’ve seen with cases going up with Omicron, I think it’s absolutely the right choice,” said Berry Hykin.

Teachers have mixed reactions to the announcement, according to Winona Waldron, the president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

She said while many are relieved there’s additional time to implement enhanced safety measures, “it’s just frustrating that this is where we are again.”

“But given that it is where we are, I think we need to get a sense of what the virus has done over the holidays and that we have every safety measure in place before we’re at full capacity in schools again,” she said.

The announcement was welcome news for the BC Teachers’ Federation as the union has been calling for a delay earlier this week.

“It’s certainly not something that we look forward to because it’s not ideal and it’s not great, but neither is a bunch of schools closing because there isn’t enough staff to run them,” explained the union’s president Teri Mooring.

She said the additional time means schools can figure out what safety measures need to be put in place.

The province said schools must adhere to a number of measures, some existing ones, including maximizing physical distancing, a mandatory mask policy and daily health checks.

It’s also calling on schools to implement strategies that prevent crowding during class transition times, holding gatherings, such as assemblies and meetings, virtually, limiting visitors and pausing extracurricular sports tournaments.

But teachers are also calling for better ventilation.

Mooring urges the province to fast-track booster shots as she fears the current teacher shortage could get even worse, which could lead to the shutdown of schools.

Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

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