The B.C. Government has made the official announcement on how schools are expected to look in September as most K-12 students get ready to return to full-time in-class learning.
The Province said this is Stage 2 of B.C.’s Education Restart Plan, which will include enhanced cleaning measures, facilitating remote classes, and the creation of learning groups.
“The principle behind these learning groups is to create students and staff who will remain together throughout the school year and who primarily interact only with each other,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer. “In the event of a case of COVID-19 in the school, the potential for transmission will be limited, and the ability for public health to quickly complete contact tracing will be far easier and far less disruptive.”
Learning group sizes will have at most 60 people for elementary school and middle school, while they will be 120 people at most in secondary schools. The groups will not necessarily be in the same classrooms or have regular contact with everyone in the groups, however.
“Groups are smaller in elementary and middle schools because it’s more challenging for younger students to maintain that safe physical distance. We want to reduce the number of people and focus on reducing physical contact between students,” said Henry. “Older students are also better at practicing hand hygiene and recognizing symptoms of COVID-19.”
A large, one-time investment will be given to school districts and private schools to help facilitate new policies imposed by the B.C. Government.
“The Province is providing an additional $45.6-million for the school system to enhance cleaning regimes, to hire more cleaning staff, add more handwashing stations and to provide reusable facemasks to students and teachers that will be stocked for everyone and available on request,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This also includes $3-million to support remote learning, so students can have access to technologies they did as they did in the last school year.”
Fleming added that the investment will include funding for students with disabilities or those with complex learning needs.
Further details about health and safety guidelines along with scheduling and registration information for elementary, middle, and secondary schools will be released by each school district by August 26th.