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

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

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

Black Press Media file photo
Tofino sets municipal tax rates

Tofino’s residential property values are rising while businesses are declining.

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Amphitrite Point lighthouse on Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail during a massive winter storm. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet’s Official Community Plan public hearing goes ahead despite push back

A petition calling on Ucluelet council to postpone the May 13 virtual event fails to deter

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Most Read