Expect to see more outdoor time, as B.C. schools embrace wider spaces fewer faces approach - InfoNews

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Expect to see more outdoor time, as B.C. schools embrace wider spaces fewer faces approach

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August 25, 2020 - 7:00 AM

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how classes will resume once school bells ring again in September.

"Every school will be slightly different — it's like what we did for restaurants, for example, where we put out the parameters and the restaurants came and said this is how we'll make it work in our setting in our situation," Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, Aug. 24 during the  COVID-19 press conference.

"So I can't tell you exactly what the number (of students) is going to be in every class. It'll depend on the school, it depends on the age of the kids, but we do have parameters and the maximum number of children and teachers."

The maximum number of a cohort, or pod, including both children and teachers for elementary school is up to 60, she said.

They might have contact with others within a year or semester, but not necessarily close contact.

Dr. Henry said there will also be physical distancing measures in place, staggering times for recess and potentially scheduling lunches at the same time but in different areas.

Another area of focus has also been ventilation in classrooms and ensuring airflow is optimal due to the fact that outdoor transmission is much lower and UV light tends to kill the virus.

"I haven't seen specific school-by-school plans but I know that is something that we've said is an important thing for each school to consider in each classroom," she said. "Whether that's having classes outside, having more activities outside versus inside, especially this time of the year and early in the fall, and other ways to increase natural ventilation (is unclear)."

And, she said, like any other place, it's important that students, staff and teachers actively assess whether they are well or not before they go into a shared space.

"The layers are still there, but the details need to be worked out within every single school in every school district and that's the work that's been going on," she said.

"I know there's a lot of really great innovative things that people have been doing to make this work, recognizing how important it is for our children across the board to get the education plus the social interaction of the school setting that they need right now."

Dr. Henry said there will be more details coming out later this week as the plans have come in for the different school districts and different school.

"We're all anxious, of course we are," she said. "We need to learn how to live with this virus, and we in public health will be supporting doing that and making sure that those layers of protection are in place in our schools."

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