UPDATE: B.C. schools closed until further notice - InfoNews

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UPDATE: B.C. schools closed until further notice

March 17, 2020 - 12:12 PM

School's out until further notice.

B.C.'s K to Grade 12 system will be suspended at this time and the decision of how to return will be made at a later date in conjunction with school districts around the province, Premier John Horgan, Minister of Finance Carole James and Minister of Education Rob Fleming said in a press conference held today, March 17.

"One of my responsibilities is to make sure kids, staff and families involved in school communities are kept as safe as possible in all of our communities across B.C.," Fleming said.

"We’re used to schools being safe places where kids learn and grow and socialize.  But as the global pandemic COVID 19 is evolving quickly it's having a growing impact on B.C. and we have to take action today to protect our students and our staff and keep our schools safe."

Currently, 99 per cent of B.C. schools are on spring break and educators are working to come up with a plan that will kick in when classes were supposed to get underway given the "suspension of classwork could go on for some time."

"I want to reassure parents and students that every student will receive a final mark and all students who are on track to move to the next grade in fall will do so. For grades 10 and 11 students, graduation assessments will be postponed. I know that parents of students in Grade 12 will have unique concerns," he said.

"Every student eligible to graduate Grade 12 this year will graduate."

The only graduation assessment required for Grade 12 is Grade 10 numeracy assessment and he said most of Grade 12 students have fulfilled that requirement. The Ministry of Education, however, will work to ensure all Grade 12 students who have not completed this assessment and are otherwise on track to graduate are able to meet this requirement.

"We don’t have all the answers today, as COVID 19 evolves we must work together to meet the needs," he said.

While classes won't resume, premier Horgan pointed out that buildings aren't being boarded up and there may be an alternate use for them in the days ahead.

Daycares, he noted, won't be closing.

This decision is not unlike what's happening in other provinces. Ontario is closing its schools for two weeks, following spring break and Alberta schools are to be closed until further notice.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government has been coordinating with the province to roll out different initiatives aimed at curbing COVID-19. Ontario, for example, had called a state of emergency to protect people and the health care system.

"And today’s announcement is an example of what we’re seeing across the country, national coordination and local action that makes sense for the circumstances on the ground. And I want you to know, Canada is here for you, in Ontario and in all parts of the country," Trudeau said.

Initiatives announced today from the federal government included Parks Canada suspending visitor services at all national parks and historic sites.

"What this means for our parks is that pretty much anything with a door will be closed," Trudeau said. 

Trudeau said the government is also examining the Emergency Measures Act to see if it is necessary or if there are other ways that will enable it to take the actions needed to protect people.

The federal government also announced up to $5,000 as part of an emergency loan program through Global Affairs Canada. It will help people who need immediate financial assistance return home or cover their needs if they have to wait to get back.

— This story was updated at 12:28 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020, with more information from the province.


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