B.C. students to be back in classrooms Sept. 10 for orientation - InfoNews

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B.C. students to be back in classrooms Sept. 10 for orientation

Education minister Rob Fleming speaks to the media as Premier John Horgan look on. Fleming has offered parents further insight to what the beginning of this school year will look like, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
August 12, 2020 - 11:23 AM

B.C.'s education minister has offered parents further insight to what the beginning of this school year will look like.

Education minister Rob Fleming said in a press release today, Aug. 12, that there will be a gradual restart starting for staff Sept. 8 and students Sept. 10. The aim is to allow extra time to orient students and staff on the new health and safety measures in place.

Starting Sept. 8, all staff will meet with their respective joint health and safety committees to receive instructions about how the updated guidelines, co-developed with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and provincial health officer, will work in their school.

"This will also allow time for educators and staff to adjust to their new routines, finalize plans for learning groups, review health and safety protocols, and confirm lesson plans that align with the new normal in schools," the Ministry of Education press release states.

Students will go back to class for orientation by Sept. 10 and will use their orientation time to get familiar with classrooms that will look different than they did before the pandemic.

"Students will be assigned to their class, find out who is in their learning group, practice their new routines and familiarize themselves with how to safely move from the class to outdoor and common areas of the school," the release states.

The minister said outdoor education will play a large role in the first two months of classes and emphasized the importance of students returning to schools to continue their education.

"We can't sacrifice 18 months of education, we have to learn how to do things safely during this pandemic. That's why we've developed and evolved the guidelines to maximize the return to in-class instruction," Fleming said.

The B.C. branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Canadian Union of Public Employees K-12 Presidents Council said in a statement that it supports the gradual restart plan.

"The details announced this morning will help ensure that all K-12 workers will understand how schools will operate in the 'new normal,'" said Paul Faoro, the president of the B.C. union branch. "All stakeholders generally support this phased-in approach."

On Aug. 10, school districts were provided with readiness checklists to ensure they are updating their health and safety plans and considering, communicating and consulting with their unions, Indigenous rights holders, staff and families in their local communities.

They will also need to ensure their plans address equity and inclusion of children who require additional support in school.

"Health and safety of teachers, staff and students is leading the work being done by the K-12 education restart steering committee and working groups with membership from all education partners and health experts," the ministry states.

These groups are also working to create detailed operational guidelines, which will be available by Aug. 17 to support school districts with their restart plans.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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