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Vancouver high schools to use hybrid model under coronavirus plan

Students wearing face masks are seen in this file photo.
Students wearing face masks are seen in this file photo. Zsolt Szigetvary/MTI via AP

Vancouver parents are getting a better idea of what their kids’ back-to-school scenario will look like under the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vancouver School Board released its draft plan Wednesday evening, which will see students return to classes for mostly in-person instruction.

Read more: B.C. teachers’ union wants more masks, smaller classes in COVID-19 plan

High school students will also have a significant virtual portion to their schedules.

“There is a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty about what school is going to look like, so we’re pleased to be able to put out our initial thoughts on the proposal,” said VSB superintendent Suzanne Hoffman.

“And what we are appreciative of is that we’ve really used student choice as one of our drivers, particularly in our secondary schools.”

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Secondary schools

The Vancouver plan envisions a hybrid learning model, in which students will spend their afternoons doing virtual learning at home or somewhere with wifi.

When on school property, they will be grouped in learning cohorts of no more than 120 people.

Click to play video 'Surrey School Board releases back-to-school plan for secondary students' Surrey School Board releases back-to-school plan for secondary students
Surrey School Board releases back-to-school plan for secondary students – Aug 18, 2020

Schedules will operate on a quarterly basis in order to allow students a full selection of courses while maintaining cohort limits.

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The plan will see students take two courses at a time for 10-week stretches, alternating between in-class instruction in the mornings and using online platforms in the afternoons.

Read more: Coronavirus — Surrey school district outlines plan for safe return to school

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Schools will also provide flex time for students who want extra help and to support kids with special needs, said the VSB.

Under the plan, flex time will also be used to support elective courses such as yearbook planning, trades, advanced placement studies or other unique offerings.

Elementary schools

Under the VSB plan, kids in primary schools will be kept in learning cohorts of 60 or fewer staff and students.

Primary schools will teach all classes using Microsoft Teams software, which the district says will allow classes to go fully or partially online if the province deems it necessary.

Read more: B.C. school staff, middle and secondary students will be required to wear masks in high-traffic areas

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Individual schools will contact parents with details about scheduling, gradual entry for kindergarten and health and safety orientations. Parents should expect to hear from administrators next week, said the VSB.

New health and safety measures

Under the plan, all students and staff will be provided with masks upon return, though they will not be mandatory in classrooms.

There will also be daily self-health assessments for students and staff, along with regular reminders about respiratory etiquette, physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Some elementary schools may stagger pickup and drop-off times, as well as recess and lunch breaks, said the VSB.

Click to play video 'B.C. teachers call for changes to back-to-school rules' B.C. teachers call for changes to back-to-school rules
B.C. teachers call for changes to back-to-school rules – Aug 19, 2020

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation said Wednesday it is still concerned about class sizes, and that it wants mask-wearing to be mandatory in all scenarios where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

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Education Minister Rob Fleming said class sizes are the lowest they have been in decades, and that the current provincewide school mask rules, which would see masks worn in high-traffic areas, are sufficient.

Classes will resume on Sept. 10.