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)

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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read