Education minister Rob Fleming and Premier John Horgan talking to kids following an announcement for a 200-seat addition at Sullivan Elementary on April 18. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Return to school to be delayed, says B.C. Education Minister

More details expected in coming weeks

B.C. youth won’t be returning back to the classroom Sept. 8 as planned amid growing concerns that teachers need more time to prepare for the “new normal” of schooling due to the ongoing pandemic.

Education Minister Rob Fleming told reporters on Tuesday (Aug. 11) that work is still being done to determine exactly when kids will be back in class, according to media reports.

He said it’s important that school staff have at least a few days before kids begin their 2020-21 school year.

More information is expected through a formal announcement in about a week.

During question period earlier in the day, Fleming said that the first day of school will look different than in years past.

“Previously students would come back into class, usually with their previous year’s teachers, and wait a few days for school to be organized for the coming school year,” Fleming. “We can’t do that in a pandemic.”

The education minister first announced the province’s back-to-school plan in mid-July, which entails the return date to follow Labour Day long weekend and include the implementation of “learning groups,” made up of a consistent group of staff and students in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

Students will be assigned to groups of up to 60 for younger grades and 120 for high school, and does mean that some middle and high school students will see some changes to their daily schedules.

In recent weeks, the BC Teachers Federation and vocal parents groups have called for the province to hit the brakes on returning to school, citing concerns on how physical distancing and other safety precautions will work.

“If the plan is rushed or too many questions are left unanswered, it won’t be successful,” the group said in a statement at the time. “Bringing everyone back all at once, even with some version of a cohort model on the first day after the Labour Day long weekend is too much too soon, given the many unanswered questions in today’s announcement.”

‘WE ALL HAVE ANXIETIES’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Other concerns include making masks mandatory – a line of defense B.C.’s top doctor says is not necessary when distancing and hand hygiene is possible – as well as a call for clarity on the idea of what learning cohorts will look like.

”That’s what parents want. They want local, specific information, and I understand that,” Fleming said Tuesday. “They should rest assured that we have the innovative minds of school leadership in every part of the province working on just that now.

ALSO READ: B.C. teacher hopes province will change back-to-school plan in fear of COVID transmission


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two dead in COVID-19 outbreak at Delta Hospital

Total of 10 patients and four staff in one unit have tested positive for COVID-19: Fraser Health

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

UPDATED: Surrey RCMP make multiple arrests after reports of fight in Newton

Huge police response to reports of fight, possibly a gun, in the area of 82nd Avenue east of Scott Road

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

Virtual challenge to benefit Delta-based guide dogs charity

Funds raised to help BC Alberta Guide Dogs provide people with free guide dogs, autism and PTSD service dogs

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

VIDEO: Mounties looking to catch Chilliwack bike-riding teen groper

Man caught on video slapping the backside of girl near CSS riding a bicycle

Most Read