BC reveals protocols around students returning to classrooms

May 7 2020, 10:30 am

As the provincial government unveiled its plan on Wednesday to reopen BC through a phased-in approach over the coming months, it also touched on the subject of getting kids back into classrooms under the “new normal” set of conditions.

As BC Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that a limited number of classrooms have remained – and continue to remain – open through this whole ordeal, Premier John Horgan said more students could potentially return to school in June, as part of what he called a “dry run.”

However, Horgan said, “we don’t want anyone to feel obliged they have to.”

His comments come after he said last week that British Columbians shouldn’t anticipate schools being fully operational until September, and even then, there will be new and enhanced procedures.

Throughout the whole process, from now into the fall, Horgan said the focus will be on making sure kids can and will remain safe as they return to the classroom setting.

And in its plan to reopen BC, the province unveiled what some of these procedures and protocols will look like.

Child care

  • Routine daily symptom screening for all staff and children
  • Routine and frequent environmental cleaning
  • Clear policy for children or staff who have the symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, with any coughing or sneezing not coming into a childcare facility

K-12

  • Routine daily screening protocol for all staff and students
  • Routine and frequent environmental cleaning
  • Smaller class sizes, increased space between desks, alternating attendance arrangements, frequent hand-washing, wearing non-medical masks for group activities and sports, and limiting group sizes
  • Clear policy for children, youth, and staff who have symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, with any coughing or sneezing not coming into school or taking part in extra curricular activities and sports
  • Planning over the summer for increased use of remote online learning, especially for high school children
  • Early arrival and self-isolation for 14 days of international students

Post-secondary

  • Routine daily screening protocol for all staff and students
  • Routine and frequent environmental cleaning
  • Clear policy for students and staff who have symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, with any coughing or sneezing not to attend classes, extra curricula activities, sports or work
  • Increased use of online learning balanced against the need of social interaction for learning and development
  • Early arrival and self-isolation for 14 days of international students

Horgan said he knows that while there have been some “positive outcomes” around students learning virtually over the past few weeks, school is “not just about reading, writing, and arithmetic,” but it also helps children “learn how to interact with other people.”

As such, he continued, there’s an “overwhelming desire to get back to a place where we can have kids interacting with each other; [however], we want to make sure that’s done safely.”