BC delays start of school for most K-12 classes in January
BC’s top doctor has announced a phased-in approach for the return to class next week, amid record cases of the Omicron variant in the province.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news conference Wednesday while the children of essential workers will return on January 4, the remainder of students will go back to class on Monday, January 10.
BC Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside joined Dr. Henry to expand on the announcement.
She spoke of the importance of face-to-face learning and says the primary goal of the province is to keep kids learning in-person through the remainder of the school year.
Staff will return to school January 4, with Whiteside saying this will give teachers and staff time to implement new safety measures.
“We are setting up our schools for the best possible start,” says Whiteside.
Schools will be open for students whose parents are healthcare workers and for students who have support needs and require care.
Whiteside adds the next week will be used to implement safety plans and workplace needs.
“Our efforts are truly focused on working to reduce disruption and absenteeism in our schools.”
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The BC Teachers’ Federation says it is pleased with a phased-in approach, but is disappointed booster shots won’t be prioritized for educators.
We are pleased to hear that #BCpoli has ordered a phased reopening of #BCed schools to allow for planning and implementation of new safety measures, including staggered start times, reduced density, and virtual meetings. 1/4
— BCTF (@bctf) December 30, 2021
One tweet from BCTF read, “We were disappointed that the announcement offered no indication that boosters will be fast-tracked for #BCed, nor did Minister Whiteside commit to making N95 masks available in schools or proactively addressing the outstanding ventilation concerns in many schools.”
Only a few hours earlier, BC Teachers’ Federation President Teri Mooring told Daily Hive that it’s a stressful time for teachers in the province.
“Teachers have been dealing with a lot in schools, trying to keep students safe without feeling like there are adequate safety measures in place. With the way that Omicron transmits…it’s very disconcerting,” she said.
“Quickly, Omicron is transmitting, so it’s critical that teachers get some planning time at the start of January in order to implement some of the additional safety measures that we’ve been talking about with the ministry over the course of the of the winter break here,” adds Mooring.
The BCTF had outlined several safety measures that they wanted to see happen, including prioritizing teachers for booster shots, providing N95 masks, and addressing concerns about air ventilation and filtration in schools.
-With files from Sarah Anderson