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B.C. government, union mull ways to keep teachers working amid coronavirus outbreak

A empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. From school closures to travel restrictions to limits on large gatherings, Canada entered a new stage in combating the spread of COVID-19 this week with measures that various experts say will almost certainly have unintended consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward.
A empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. From school closures to travel restrictions to limits on large gatherings, Canada entered a new stage in combating the spread of COVID-19 this week with measures that various experts say will almost certainly have unintended consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward.

The B.C. government and the BC Teachers’ Federation have written a letter to teachers, saying they are discussing options to keep them working and keep students active during the coronavirus pandemic.

In-person instruction was suspended indefinitely in B.C. last week for all K-12 students, though school buildings could remain open.

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“Teachers are going to play a critical role to support students during this extraordinary time,” says the letter signed by BCTF president Teri Mooring and Education Minister Rob Fleming.

“As a society, we need to find ways to create a sense of normalcy, routine, and learning for children and youth. We don’t fully know what that’s going to look like, but the goal is to keep teachers working and keep students engaged.”

Coronavirus school closures extended as B.C. cases grow
Coronavirus school closures extended as B.C. cases grow

Most kids in B.C. are currently on spring break and were scheduled to go back to class on Monday, March 30.

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A number of of technical committees are available to help advise government on next steps, the letter says.

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The province is also working with the union to establish guidelines to keep teachers safe if they are able to work from schools, such as thorough cleaning procedures and social-distancing measures.

They are also working on how to support children of essential workers as well as vulnerable students who may need special assistance.

READ MORE: B.C. suspends K-12 classes indefinitely amid coronavirus pandemic, says economic help coming

“We know teachers are dedicated to the students and families you serve, but there is no need for you to begin working on specific plans for returning to work right now,” the letter reads.

“Your school district will allow you time for collaborative planning when you return to work. That will include time to develop local plans to support your students that are aligned with these principles and the provincial guidelines.”