(Files by Brendan Pawliw – My Prince George Now)
Parents of school-aged children across B.C. should plan for a near-normal return to the classroom in September.
As part of the return, students can expect to learn in classrooms full time following an announcement today (Thursday) from the province.
In addition, online learning programs will remain available for students.
Students will no longer be grouped into cohorts as a result.
According to health officials, these measures will no longer be necessary due to the BC’s high vaccination rates. It is anticipated the restrictions on gatherings, extracurricular activities, and sports will no longer be required once the academic year kicks off.
The provincial government also provided $43.6 million to support ongoing health and safety measures, First Nations and Métis students as well as mental health services and rapid response teams and to address learning impacts.
“B.C. is one of the few jurisdictions that has kept schools open all year despite the pandemic, thanks to the enormous collective efforts of everyone in the K-12 education system, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to them all,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.
Of that money, there is $25.6 million in new one-time, pandemic-specific funding to support cleaning and disinfecting measures as well as improved ventilation and restock supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE).
Breakdown of the $25.6 million in new one-time funding:
- $14.4 million for health and safety, cleaning and supplies
- $5 million to support First Nations students and build capacity within First Nations Education Steering Committee and Métis Nation BC
- $5 million for mental health services
- $1.2 million for independent schools
Guidance on wearing masks in school settings will be confirmed later this summer and in alignment with broader provincial direction for the fall and winter.
Students will continue to be required to complete daily health checks, stay home when feeling sick and practice diligent hand hygiene.
Over 50% of kids aged 12 to 17 years old in B.C. have received their first vaccine dose.