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B.C. students to return to the classroom by Sept. 10, a two-day delay to the start of school

British Columbia students won’t return to schools until Sept. 10
Students in B.C. will return to school two days after their teachers, after the province announced it's delaying the start of the new school year. Catherine Urquhart explains the decision, and the rules on face masks.

B.C. students will be back in the classroom by Sept. 10, a two-day push back from the scheduled Sept. 8 start.

Education Minister Rob Fleming announced a gradual restart to allow extra time to orient students and staff on the new health and safety measures in place.

“Schools are going to look different in September,” Fleming said.

“Staff, students, and parents need time to get familiar with all the new health and safety procedures that are designed to keep them safe and confident in their school settings.”

Start of school pushed back for B.C. students
Start of school pushed back for B.C. students

Starting Sept. 8, all staff will meet with their school’s joint health and safety committee to receive instructions about how the updated guidelines will work in their school.

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Students will be welcomed back to class for orientation by Thursday Sept. 10, and will use their orientation time to get familiar with classrooms that will look different than they did before the pandemic.

But the school districts and individual schools must still determine what kids may be doing in the classroom and inside the school during the first few days back will look like.

B.C. education minister says the start of schools to be pushed back
B.C. education minister says the start of schools to be pushed back

Fleming says kids won’t “necessarily be back 9 to 3” and the districts and schools will also control the schedule.

“There is some flexibility built here for individuals schools and districts on how to allocate that time,” Fleming said.

“I expect that teachers will be going over their learning plans, talking about what kids can look forward to returning to in class. The health and safety orientation, I think, is important for everyone. It’s important for kids returning to a school that looks different to understand how to navigate it.”

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Students will be assigned to their class, find out who is in their learning group, practice their new routines and familiarize themselves with how to safely move from the class to outdoor and common areas of the school.

Angst in the air over older schools, ventilation systems
Angst in the air over older schools, ventilation systems

A new Insights West poll released on Wednesday found 49 per cent of respondents are in favour of the province’s back to school plan, while 42 per cent oppose it.

Respondents said if they were given a choice, only 27 per cent of parents would choose to have their children in the classroom full-time, 41 per cent would prefer a mix of online and in-person, and 27 per cent would prefer remote online learning only.

Nearly half of respondents were worried about childcare options if there was remote learning in the fall.

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B.C. minister of education announces back to school plan
B.C. minister of education announces back to school plan

Parents are divided on the perceived safety of the back to school situation in September, with 52 per cent saying they are confident their child will be safe at school and 48 per cent saying they are not confident.

“Our latest poll on the state of readiness of parents and the general public to go back to school shows a significant level of fear and uncertainty around the provincial government’s plan for September” Insights West president Steve Mossop said.

“Unlike the high levels of support for other provincial and/or federal programs during this pandemic, the public seems divided about the schooling situation due perhaps due to a lack of clarity, and the varied experience parents have had with their children’s online learning last school year.”

The poll results are based on an online study conducted from Aug. 5-9, 2020, among a sample of 825 B.C. residents. The margin of error — which measures sample variability — is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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