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

The First Nations language pole project, underway in Port Alberni, has been stalled due to lack of funding. Artist Tim Paul can occasionally be seen working on the project behind a fence at the Maritime Discovery Centre. (JERRY FEVENS PHOTO/ Special to the News)
Port Alberni’s First Nations language pole suffers another setback

First Nations Education Foundation still looking for funding for a final push

A screenshot from the virtual all-candidates meeting on Monday, Oct. 19 hosted by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce. (SCREENSHOT)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Mid Island-Pacific Rim candidates weigh in on forestry, tourism, LNG

For the first time ever, Alberni Valley Chamber hosted a virtual all-candidates’ meeting

NIC and other schools will provide information on program pathways, partnership agreements and tips for transfer students. File photo
Vancouver Island colleges, universities host virtual tours

The tour includes representatives from North Island College

Crew members with the Western Canadian Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) deploy a containment boom from one of their workboats during a fuel spill drill in Alberni Harbour on Oct. 15, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni WCMRC team learns the spill drill

Spill response members simulates fuel spill for practice in Alberni Harbour

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read