(Files by Justin Madu-MyPGNow)
Although Premier John Horgan was adamant that returning to classrooms will be voluntary, students across British Columbia will be allowed to gradually ease themselves back into classes starting on June 1st.
“We now have new public health guidelines from the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control,” said Minister of Education Rob Fleming, who continued: “the same strict health and safety standards apply province-wide.”
Kindergarten to Grade 5 students will be attending classes half-time, while Grades 6-12 will only see 20% of students be in school at any given time.
This means middle school and secondary school students will likely attend school one day per week for the month of June.
Remote learning will remain available for students who choose not to return to in-class instruction as well as those who are attending part-time classes when they are not in the classroom.
Anyone displaying signs of illness will be expected to stay home, students will be distanced from each other in classrooms and on school buses, and bus drivers will be given plexiglass partitions.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that all playground equipment will be open for use, as reducing shared touch surfaces and encouraging physical distancing remains key.
“This is how we are going to build our confidence that we can do this,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The slow return to classes in June will help School Districts prepare for the September semester.
“Just like school, child care centres will have to take additional measures to ensure health and safety,” explained Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen
However, Chen stated child care is not mandated to reopen and individual child care providers will be allowed to decide when to reopen.
To date, $90 million dollars of funding has been distributed among child care providers throughout the province.
Summer school options will also be explored to better support students who may need additional assistance.
Further details are expected to be provided by individual school districts before May 22nd.