Thousands of B.C. students return for part-time in-class instruction

MORE than 157,000 kindergarten to Grade 12 students, representing nearly 30% of B.C.’s total school population, were back in classrooms during the first week of the province’s gradual return to schools for in-class instruction under new health and safety guidelines.

“B.C. is fortunate to be in a position where we can welcome students and staff back to schools in greater numbers under the guidance of public health experts who have put in stringent and thorough health and safety measures that make it safe to do so,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “The opportunity for part-time in-class instruction between teachers, support staff and students has been welcomed by families who have exercised that choice.

“And those connections have been valuable for a significant number of B.C. families. We value the collaborative approach with school districts, education unions, principals and vice-principals, parent organizations and WorkSafeBC all working together to keep schools safe for students and staff, now and into the future.”

As of June 1, all kindergarten to Grade 5 students have the option to attend school half-time, while students in grades 6 to 12 can attend school the equivalent of one day a week. Students attending schools are limited to current density targets of 50% for kindergarten to Grade 5, and 20% for grades 6 to 12. Children of essential service workers and students who need additional support are still welcome to attend schools full-time this month.

“Boards of education have made extraordinary efforts in every district to ensure a smooth return to in-class learning,” said Stephanie Higginson, President, BC School Trustees Association. “The stories from students who attended school last week are overwhelmingly positive with expressions of joy at being able to see friends and teachers. Staff have worked hard to implement health and safety protocols in every school. Parents and students can be confident that districts are following the best public health advice to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone.”

All B.C. school districts have publicly available health and safety plans that reinforce the guidelines set out by B.C.’s provincial health officer, WorkSafeBC and the Ministry of Education.

If families change their minds about in-class learning, they are asked to contact their child’s school as soon as possible so the school can plan to support the child.