FILE – An empty hallway is seen at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver,on Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Premier wants parents to have Plan B if COVID-19 disrupts September school plans

Goal is to have elementary, middle school students back in classroom fulltime

If a resurgence of COVID-19 forces a closure of classrooms in the fall, parents are being cautioned by B.C.’s premier to have a backup plan in place.

As it stands, the goal is to have a full return to classrooms for students in elementary and middle schools in September with alternative options for secondary school students.

However, this plan could be foiled if B.C. sees a second wave of the novel coronavirus – a likelihood health officials are not ruling out, backed by how other contagions have transmitted through populations historically.

ALSO READ: A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

While it’s unclear exactly when another wave could occur, the fall and winter seasons already see an increase in respiratory illnesses which could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases.

During a weekly news conference on Thursday (July 23), Horgan told reporters that the province will have more information for parents in the weeks to come and the pandemic is being closely monitored by school administrators and provincial officials.

WATCH: Premier John Horgan takes questions from journalists on July 23, 2020

“My plan is to make sure we get it right, not that we get it done by a certain time,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to ask parents to be patient.

Schools in B.C. shuttered doors in March as daily case counts began to increase, requiring parents to home-school their kids. Many struggled to balance working from home with helping their children finish the school year.

ALSO READ: The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Meanwhile, teachers had to quickly adapt lesson plans to rely on online assignments and virtual teaching.

The province moved to a hybrid model in June, blending voluntary in-classroom and online curriculum.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said earlier this week that officials are looking into safe options in the fall, such as a “cohort” model to meet social distancing requirements.

“Of course, it’s going to be a ‘new normal’ situation, schools will look different,” he said in the legislature on Wednesday.

Mandatory masks unlikely for kids, says B.C.’s top doc

While Fleming suggested that masks could be a safety protocol in classrooms, B.C.’s provincial health officer has said that making face coverings mandatory for young students isn’t likely.

“We know from the evidence around the world that that’s not needed, but that there are other ways – important ways – of being able to learn in classroom for younger children, and children of all ages, that can be done safely,” Henry said in a separate news conference.

“Masks for a long period of time are not recommended by anybody in any situation – we know that’s not what keeps people safe.”

Henry said that keeping a distance of two metres from one another, using barriers for separation and proper hygiene are the best methods to reduce virus spread.

Masks could still be made mandatory for teachers.

Fleming, joined by Henry, is expected to offer a back-to-school update next week.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seabird Island COVID-19 ‘scare’ has passed, Chief states

Reaffirmation comes during Chief Harris’s weekly video address

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

Firefighters bring Sts’ailes FSR fire under control

Blaze held at bay after burning 15 hectares of land

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Fraser Valley heritage house

Chilliwack heritage house makes 1.7-kilometre journey to new location

Most Read