British Columbia’s Ministry of Education announced Wednesday that a return to in-class learning is planned for students from kindergarten through Grade 12 come September, while the blend of remote and in-class options employed over the spring will be discontinued.
“The classroom is an essential part of a child’s social, academic and mental development, and that’s why we are working hard to ensure students can safely spend the next school year with their teachers and classmates,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education.
Fleming added that bringing some students and teachers back into the classroom in June provided valuable information that the provincial government is using to develop plans and ensure health and safety at schools remain paramount.
On the advice of the provincial health officer, students will be organized into learning groups, meaning a consistent group of staff and students. This will reduce the number of people each student or staff member will come into contact with, reducing the risk of transmission and ensuring quicker contact tracing by health authorities.
A letter sent out to parents by Gulf Islands School District superintendent Scott Benwell on Wednesday explains that School District 64’s plan will see elementary and middle school learning groups limited to 60 people, with a 120-person limit to secondary school groups.
“Over the coming weeks, our local schools will be making adjustments to reflect the new guidelines, and principals will be in contact with individual students and families as plans and details become available. For now, all students can expect to be back at school in September,” Benwell wrote.
Benwell said the school day will be adjusted to ensure that the learning groups remain consistent throughout the day. There may be staggered pick-up and drop-off times; recess and snack breaks may vary throughout the day; and class activities will be organized to minimize physical contacts and group activities.
School district staff will be working out the details through most of August. Plans will be reviewed by the Ministry of Education and must be made public by Aug. 26.
Parents are asked to check the district website at sd64.bc.ca for updates expected from the province in the coming weeks and continue to monitor the regular methods of school communications.