B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming tours a Greater Victoria school on June 2, 2020, as classes restart amid the pandemic. (Don Craig/Government of B.C.)

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

B.C. schools were at 30 per cent of expected enrolment for the first day of in-class instruction since classes were cancelled in March.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said that equates to about 60,000 students having returned to class on Monday.

“We hope the June restart is part of something that will let us have an even stronger start in September,” Fleming said during a Tuesday (June 2) press conference.

He reiterated that school remains optional during June.

“A lot of kids have missed in-class instruction and there is really not substitute for that… it’s an option for parents. We respect whatever choice they make,” Fleming said. Families have the option, he noted, to send kids back to school later in the month, as well as to pull them out if they feel conditions are no longer satisfactory.

Attendance figures for Monday ranged from 48 per cent for Grade 6 students to 15 per cent for Grade 12s. Classes remain small in size, with kindergarten to Grade 5 students having a limited to 50 per cent of school capacity, and older students limited to 20 per cent. The younger students are on an alternating or half-time schedule, while older ones are at about one day a week.

About 90 per cent of teachers have returned to in-class instruction across B.C., with the rest given accommodations to work from home. Some teachers have been laid off, Fleming noted, per the rules of the B.C.Teachers’ Federation collective agreement.

“What we expect from most districts… they expect every teacher that is receiving a technical layoff notice today to be rehired and teach domestic, B.C. kids,” he said. “We don’t expect any layoffs will be permanent for B.C. teachers.”

Part of that curriculum will include more learning about Black culture and history in B.C., Fleming said, in light of protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S.

Fleming said every student is expected to self-monitor for symptoms prior to coming to school for the day.

Fleming said a decision about how schooling would look like in the fall would come by mid-August.

“It’s likely that we will have to have a hybrid system again until we have a vaccine, until the pandemic is officially over.”

Speaking at a press conference later on Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she couldn’t predict how the virus would evolve over the summer months.

”We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then,” she said, adding that it was “very likely” that some learning would continue to be remote and online.

“I think it will be different than what we are seeing right now.”

Correction: The initial report said that 30 per cent of B.C. students had returned to classes. In fact, it is 30 per cent of expected enrolment due to COVID-19 physical distancing measures.

READ MORE: B.C. to suspend K-12 schools indefinitely due to COVID-19

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor urges caution for protesters amid 24 COVID-19 cases, 1 death in two days


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

British ColumbiaCoronavirusEducation

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

Just Posted

Port Alberni firefighters raise $500 for Burn Camp

To date, Port Alberni has raised $13,000 for the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund

Port Alberni residents fighting with BC Ferries

Medically assured loading aboard ferries welcomed by Islanders

Canal Beach in Port Alberni open for swimming

Beach had been closed in July after high bacteria readings were detected in the water

North Island College offers resources for students learning online

College will hold a ‘virtual orientation’ this week

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one B.C. venue is bringing back concerts

A growing number of bars and restaurants are welcoming back musicians under COVID-19 precautions

Cooler days help crews fighting fire on mountainside southwest of Nanaimo

Firefighters making progress, but it’s ‘slow-going,’ says B.C. Wildfire Service

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Most Read