FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Peace River North MLA and Official Opposition Critic for Education, Dan Davies says the Province needs to provide more clarity for parents before reopening schools.
On Friday, Premier Horgan said schools would open to more in-class instruction beginning June 1. To manage physical distancing in schools, most students will be back on a part-time basis. Students from kindergarten to grade five will be attending two or three days a week, while students in grades six to 12 will be in school once a week.
School District 60 says they will release their plans for making in-class learning possible by May 22.
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“How can we ensure that our teachers will be provided with adequate PPE and that classrooms will have appropriate safety measures in place? What will a curriculum with optional in-class learning look like? This government has had two months to plan for this and disappointingly, it looks like too much is being left up in the air,” said MLA Dan Davies.
Each School District will create its return to school safety plan rather than one that is rolled out across the Province.
Davies went onto say, “With only nine working days until our kids are scheduled to return to classrooms, the safety of our teachers and students must be our top priority. If our teachers are going to juggle in-class and virtual learning while maintaining proper health and safety measures, government needs to work much more closely with our school districts to ensure that they have the appropriate guidelines and resources to carry out safe and effective learning.”
The Province said each School District must implement the following to maintain health and safety.
- desks spaced apart and avoiding groups or gatherings of students in hallways or other common areas;
- regular cleaning of high-contact surfaces like door knobs, toilet seats, keyboards and desks at least twice a day, and cleaning the school building at least once a day;
- students, educators and staff will be required to clean their hands before entering school property, and there will be more hand-sanitizing and cleaning stations available, with well-stocked supplies;
- staggered drop-offs, lunch and recess breaks, with increased outside time;
- staff and students (or their parents/guardians) must assess themselves daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If any student or staff member has even mild symptoms, arrangements will be made for that person to be returned home;
- one student per seat on school buses, unless children are from the same house, with plexiglass separating the bus driver from students; and
- students or employees should not share food or personal items like phones, pens or pencils. Clear protocols also need to be in place for the safe and healthy handling of all food items.