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Justin Trudeau sending his kids back to school as COVID-19 concerns linger

Click to play video 'Justin Trudeau sending his kids back to school as concerns over return to B.C. classrooms linger' Justin Trudeau sending his kids back to school as concerns over return to B.C. classrooms linger
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells Global BC anchor Sophie Lui why he is sending his kids back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s time for back to school at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s house.

Trudeau told Global News anchor Sophie Lui his three kids will be heading back to class next week. Just a few weeks ago, the prime minister told reporters his family hadn’t decided yet on whether the kids would be going back.

Click to play video 'Surrey’s back-to-school plans' Surrey’s back-to-school plans
Surrey’s back-to-school plans

“My kids are going back to class. As every parent has, we are looking very closely at what the plans are, what the safety measures are in place,” Trudeau said.

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“We are going to keep watching closely to make sure our kids are safe.”

Parents across the country have been deciding whether they feel safe sending kids back to school amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. In British Columbia, the biggest concerns are around remote learning options, a robust mask policy, and the ability of students and staff to physically distance in the classroom.

Amid a virtual tour across British Columbia on Wednesday, Trudeau said back-to-school plans were a central part of his meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan.

Watch the full interview here:

Click to play video 'Trudeau discusses back to school season amid COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming throne speech' Trudeau discusses back to school season amid COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming throne speech
Trudeau discusses back to school season amid COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming throne speech

The B.C. government is working with school districts to determine how to spend $242 million in federal money earmarked for back to school. Trudeau did not weigh in on how the money should be allocated.

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“I am very aware of provincial areas of jurisdiction. Even though I’m a former teacher, a former member of the BCTF, I’m not going to weigh in on the best way in B.C. to keep kids safe,” he said.

“I’m going to trust the provinces and the school boards and the parents involved to do what’s necessary.”

Click to play video 'Lessons from other jurisdictions about B.C.’s return to school' Lessons from other jurisdictions about B.C.’s return to school
Lessons from other jurisdictions about B.C.’s return to school

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation sent a letter to Education Minister Rob Fleming on Wednesday that detailed how the union would like to see the money spent.

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BCTF president Teri Mooring said the province has already earmarked money for cleaning and hand-hygiene and the federal funds should be used to reduce school and classroom density, which will aid in physical distancing.

The BCTF is also advocating for hybrid and remote options in every school district to help reduce class sizes and school density as well as protect students and staff members, or their family members who are more vulnerable because of existing health concerns.

“That funding is a gamechanger for BC’s K–12 restart plan, and could be used in a proactive way to address many of the health and safety concerns teachers and parents have as the school year is about to start,” Mooring wrote.

“The K–12 restart plan needs to bridge the gap between the advice given to the public as a whole around physical distancing and the reality facing our schools. Teachers and parents are being told to do one thing in their home and community lives, but then told they can ignore the most important preventative measure, physical distancing, in classrooms.”

Read more: BC Teachers’ Federation pushing for clearer mask policy, more remote learning options

The union is also calling for assurances that students who choose remote learning can remain connected to their school, and space will be available to them if they opt to return to the classroom in-person.

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“We all want our schools to reopen and teachers want to welcome our students back enthusiastically,” Mooring wrote.

“However, the government has a duty and responsibility to make it as safe as possible. With the federal funding you and your government now have the opportunity to make much-needed improvements to the restart plan.”