No cases of COVID-19 related to B.C.'s back to school plans | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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No cases of COVID-19 related to B.C.'s back to school plans

A empty teacher's desk is seen at the front of a empty classroom at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver on September 5, 2014. Many parents are figuring out daily plans on the homefront in the wake of school closures around the country.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
June 15, 2020 - 5:30 PM

B.C.’s back to school plan has largely been a success, says the province’s top doctor.

“We knew that it was going to be a challenging thing but the schools have done really well,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, June 15.

“I've been really pleased with the reports I've heard. It's not been perfect by any means, and we're figuring it out. But I've had lots of really cool notes from happy children who have gone back and are able to see their friends.”

Nearly 30 per cent of B.C. schoolchildren received in-class instruction when the provincial government reopened schools for the first time since classes were suspended two months earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s about 157,000 students. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 are able to go to school half time (such as alternating days), while those in grades 6 to 12 can attend classes one day a week.

Dr. Henry said she thought the measured way that the province went about re-opening has been the key to its success.

“It has made it easier for everybody to learn how to adapt,” she said, adding that the way its been done has taken away any fear that may have lingered. “And we have had no cases associated with schools. Yet, in the province, it could happen. But so far, everything has been really great.”

What’s being learned by school administration and teachers during this time frame is expected to guide what the return to school in the fall looks like.

“That's a very important thing as well,” she said. “I am actually extremely proud of all of the educators and the staff in the school system. There are children who absolutely needed to be back in a classroom learning environment and this has been incredibly, incredibly important for them.”

Around 90 per cent of B.C. teachers are also back in schools, with the remaining 10 per cent of teachers directing online learning.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said he expects students to still be learning through a combination of both in-class and online instruction when the 2020-21 school year starts up in September and until the pandemic is over.

Schedules have been staggered, desks have been moved away from each other and hand sanitizing  and washing stations have been installed in the schools to aid in social distancing.

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